The Humble Quest for Universal Genius

Trying to find a new Renaissance Man (or Woman) in an hour is no easy task, but it is one that The Humble Quest for Universal Genius attempts with great enthusiasm. Over the course of the gameshow’s ten performances, host Matthew Crosby pits two comedians a day against each other to compete in a series of rounds ranging from Art to Mathematics, Wit to Hunting (yes, really), to see which of them is a ‘true genius’, showing greatness in a variety of different fields. 

Crosby has certainly crafted an interesting and varied game that ought to ensure there is never a dull moment.

The contestants I observed, Josh Widdecombe and Joel Dommett, were humble in their descriptions of how they would consider themselves to be a genius; Dommett can tell the time and Widdecombe always manages to choose the best cheese and tomato croissant at Pret a Manger. As the game began, however, they managed to prove their intelligence – and humour – more ably, whether through continuing a story in the style of its author or trying to define expressions from a Bulgarian phrasebook. With the rounds overseen by Crosby and the eccentric figure of Dr. Clogs, the arbitrator of genius, Widdecombe and Dommett battled it out to see who would be crowned as the show’s universal genius.

Crosby has certainly crafted an interesting and varied game that ought to ensure there is never a dull moment; from the translations in the Languages round to the use of Nerf guns in the Hunting round, however, there are several occasions where there is a lull in the proceedings. This can be attributed to the fact that the game show, unlike those on television, is presented live and unedited, but it also gives an indication of its playful, loose nature. 

The competition is never especially serious, and it is clear that all involved are amused as much by the rounds themselves as what results from them. Although the premise is a promising one, and Widdecombe and Dommett are wonderful comedians – a particular highlight being the round in which they have to make up answers to a series of childrens’ jokes – The Humble Quest for Universal Genius is certainly an amusing show, but only up to a point.

Broadway Baby Radio interview with Joel Dommett

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The Blurb

Hosted by Matthew Crosby (Pappy’s), The Humble Quest makes a triumphant return to Edinburgh. Witness two top comedians going head-to-head against each other in an epic battle of ingenuity, wit and skill. The aim is simple: to find a true modern-day Renaissance Man or Woman. From art, science and languages, to poetry, mathematics and, of course, hunting, we will leave no part of the contestants’ brains untested. It’s been 500 years since Da Vinci and Galileo. It’s time to find a new Universal Genius… 'The bastard child of QI and Shooting Stars' (Chortle.co.uk).

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