FameLab UK is well underway in its 2017 season and we took this occasion to ask some of our wonderful FameLab Alumni to reminisce about their time in the competition. First up is our FameLab UK Winner 2016 Kyle Evans, a “folk singing mathematician, comedian & teacher” who has blown all our minds with his fantastic musical science comedy.
This time a year ago I had vaguely heard of Famelab a few times in passing but that was about the extent of it. I was in a creative rut and looking for something new to try in those first few days of the year when resolutions and promises come to the forefront of the mind. Generally in life I subscribe to the maxim that it’s better to regret something you have done than something you haven’t, so I filled in the form and forgot about it for a while.
A few weeks later I was called up to do a heat in Oxford (I live near Winchester so I got to know the A34 fairly intimiately – shout out to Tot Hill services) in a function room above a pub. I changed my mind about what I was going to talk about a few days before the heats and wrote a song about the Riemann hypothesis while cycling to work. As you do. It was deemed good enough to get me into the Oxford final where I talked about the mathematical ramifications of seemingly innocent 60’s pop music.
By this point I thought I was definitely pushing my luck but the audience seemed to love it and despite an incredibly strong field I was crowned the regional winner. I then went on to the London final where I was fairly gobsmacked to win the whole thing.
This has led to some incredible experiences: performing at Cheltenham Science Festival, giving talks to 500 teenage maths students, featuring on my favourite radio show More or Less and writing my first full-length comedy maths show Born to Sum. Considering I didn’t really know what Famelab was a year or so ago things have gone pretty well.
Generally in life I subscribe to the maxim that it’s better to regret something you have done than something you haven’t.
If I could give some advice to potential entrants it would be to do exactly as I did – don’t study old Famelab videos too thoroughly or try to do what other people have. Be your own person. There are some amazing things it could lead to, including the masterclass weekend if you get to the national final. This was a genuine ‘money can’t buy’ experience at which I met some wonderful people and gained an incredible insight into science communication.
Most importantly it has made my life more interesting. If nothing else that should be reason enough to give it a go.