Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I am not great with maths. I never have been. I’m not proud of it, but it’s a reality I’ve come to accept. You might then wonder why I decided to go and view a show ostensibly about maths.
Well, it just so happens that the show is hosted by Australian mathematician, author and YouTuber Matt Parker, who just happens to be part of Festival of the Spoken Nerd, and is hilarious.
His audience will almost certainly fall inside one of two camps, those there for the maths, and those there for the comedy — although as demonstrated in a venn diagram there is at least some overlap.
As a fan of comedy - and most certainly not of maths - I can assure you that there is plenty of content if you’re similarly inclined. If you have even a passing interest in geek or nerd culture, there are jokes and references here you will appreciate. I briefly got a cold sweat when the first formulas were thrown up on screen, but that could just have been a normal sweat given how warm the totally sold out space was.
The show takes us through some historic examples of how companies have gotten the maths wrong to interesting and hilarious effect. We take a deep dive at the failures of McDonalds and Pepsi, the lack of imagination of Baskin Robbins, and the automatic price algorithm that failed on Amazon to crazy results. Oh, there’s also a cameo by Gandhi, and if you’ve been following the theme you might already be able to guess why.
Matt continues to be his charming, personable self, interacting with the audience as though they were friends rather than paying spectators to his passion for maths. He certainly knows his audience, able to easily garner support for the geometrically incorrect football stadium road sign, and genuine applause for his doughnut. It was slightly lost on me, but I was certainly glad to be there for the ride. Matt is naturally funny, and his show is accommodating to us who aren’t mathematicians and software developers — a key and obvious demographic in his fanbase.
It’s not a necessity to enjoy maths to watch this show, but you’ll certainly get more from it if you do. Either way, you should see this show, and if nothing else has convinced you, Humble Pi has Pac-Man and lasers!