Stand-Up Philosophy – Free

Stand-Up Philosophy is a low-key, quirky little Free Fringe show featuring professional philosophers sharing thoughts, answering questions, and trying their hands at comedy. Although it has more to recommend as philosophy than stand-up or performance it is a fun way for philosophy buffs at a loose end to spend an hour.

If you are attracted for its philosophy then you will find a fun little enterprise that is right up your street.

Charlie Duncan Saffrey, a visiting lecturer at the University of Westminster, compères for a trio of different philosophers discussing a new topic every day. He creates a supportive and welcoming atmosphere for the would-be comics, some of whom are visibly nervous, though studying how comedy showcase MCs create enthusiasm in a room would help start the show off with greater energy. The comedic material itself is often clumsy, pun-based, and awkward; if Duncan Saffrey wanted to boost the stand-up element of the performance then booking a professional comic to close out would help. The show is certainly friendly, but could look more professional: insisting that sets be memorised rather than read from paper and that performers utilise the microphone would improve the image.

But when the segways into philosophical arguments are made the show is educational and thought-provoking. The audience has a chance to put queries to the philosophers, all of whom are charming and approachable, which will slake the thirst for deep thinking that any experts in the audience who felt that the preceding routine lacked detail might have. There is also the chance of hearing about an esoteric topic outside what might be considered academically mainstream: Patrick Levy, for instance, touched on the philosophy of sleep, which in four years of university study this reviewer had never encountered.

If you are attracted to Stand-Up Philosophy for its comedy then it may not be for you; if you are attracted for its philosophy then you will find a fun little enterprise that is right up your street.

Reviews by Oliver Lennard

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The Blurb

Bored of mindless comedy shows? Then come to Stand-up Philosophy. It's a kind of live philosophy which is like stand-up comedy – only it's philosophical. In each show a different line-up of the Fringe's top stand-up comedians will join professional philosophers in trying to answer the big questions of philosophy, making an argument as well as doing jokes! (Although there are also plenty of jokes). Each show has a different line-up, a different philosophical theme, and a chance to argue about truth, meaning and value... For details of shows, themes and line-ups see