Lines of Best Fit is a science-themed improv comedy show that brings together improvisors and scientists to explore science in a fun and creative way. I started Lines of Best Fit as part of my PhD, and seeing my vision come to life has been one of the most enjoyable parts of my project.
The audience applauds as two scientists sit down and the improvisors stand up. Professor Anita Ho-Baillie and Dr Fengwang Li have just finished answering some audience questions about their research: capturing and ‘bottling’ sunlight to use as a renewable fuel. The improvisors follow with a flurry of improvised scenes involving trapped electrons, tense negotiations to buy Indium, strange sandwiches, and an advertisement for the Australian sun.
These scenes were from one of the Lines of Best Fit shows I organised in National Science Week last year, in collaboration with Sydney Nano and with the support of Inspiring NSW. (More information about the these shows)
Since launching in December of 2021, at Improv Theatre Sydney’s Comedy Festival, I’ve hosted 12 shows, with another one coming up on March 18th. So how have the shows changed since National Science Week last year?
The National Science Week shows were the first time a Lines of Best Fit show had featured more than one science talk, and two science talks per show has now become typical. Having two scientists keeps the shows feeling dynamic and provides some variety in the topics. I’ve also settled on longer science talks of around 7-8 minutes, having originally started with a cap of 5 minutes.
Audiences told me they preferred the longer talks which had more detail, and it also gives the improvisors more material to work with when creating scenes, creating a better show overall. The shows still involve a Q&A, and I’ve been considering alternative ways to involve audiences, such as allowing them to suggest ideas for improvised scenes.
I have also been working to improve the marketing and online presence of Lines of Best Fit. As science communicators, we sometimes overlook the importance of promoting events or can find it difficult to do. In October last year, I connected with the Innovation Hub at the University after receiving a Student Innovation Award for Social Impact for Lines of Best Fit.
With their guidance, I was encouraged to set up a website with a mailing list and an Instagram page to promote the shows and build a following. Although progress is slow, it has been very rewarding to see people with no connection to me start to follow these online pages.
If you’d like to check out a show, the next performance of Lines of Best Fit is happening at 7pm, March 18th, at Improv Theatre Sydney.The show features two scientists – insect ecologist Tanya Latty and astrophysicist Kovi Rose. Tickets are available here: bit.ly/LoBF_Mar2023
Lines of Best Fit
When: 7pm, Saturday 18 March 2023
Where: Improv Theatre Sydney, 44-54 Botany Rd, Redfern
More information and bookings
Guest blog by Olivia McRae, science communicator and PhD student at the University of Sydney.