NED: Ideas you’ll never have
Dylan Cole @ Gluttony – Pig Tales
10:50pm, Tue 19 Feb 2013
Like most people who abjectly fail to achieve anything with their own lives, I love me some TED talks: there’s some utterly inspirational stuff in there, and – despite constantly telling myself that I really should absorb their wisdom in a timely manner – I’ve been collecting my daily Talk for safekeeping for years now… in fact, I’ve got over fifteen hundred Talks saved, ready to inspire me. Yet another Massive List of Things To Do :}
Because of the reference to TED, I really wanted to see this purported parody – so much so that I bailed on an opening-night Insomnia Cat because of the (self-inflicted) tight scheduling between the shows, and I couldn’t get a good feel of the Cat‘s running time (as it turns out, I could have just squeezed both shows in this evening, but hindsight is a lovely thing, isn’t it?). Insomnia Cat didn’t miss out – I saw that the following evening – but it meant that the day felt a little short. Poor planning!
NED presents three speakers (all played by Dylan Cole, differentiated by mannerisms and the smallest of “costume” changes), each of whom have fifteen minutes to present their knowledge; Dr John Hatzenberger opened proceedings with The Science of Possibility which – whilst funny to me – seemed to be a bit distant from the rest of the dozen-or-so audience. But the true genius of that segment wasn’t realised until the other two gave it context; Hatzenberger name-drops his employer (the University of Oxcamprincetonyale), and introduces the character of young Sally (whilst building up, then destroying her hopes and dreams).
Joel Ham – who appeared to be suffering from an almost Monk-ish OCD – then introduced the theme of Choice in his presentation Being successful, happy and generally alright through achieving your goals, aspirations and being true to yourself. Ham was hysterical with his oddball pronunciations and Coke product placements, and his theory of Three Choices – that, at any given time, people always have the option to choose between Love, Hope, or More Choices – was a blinder.
Finally, Professor Jeffery De Hollander presented a very highbrow approach to Art in his talk Creating the Creation of Creativity. In comparing Sally’s doodles with da Vinci and Dali, he generates laughs of the most deliciously absurd kind, whilst calling back to more research from Oxcamprincetonyale and Choices; De Hollander even ends on the wonderful note that the best way to overcome the fear of the blank page is to do something (a sober message that felt a little out-of-place with the rest of the show’s humorous content, but one that I should remember).
NED was a really fun piss-take of the academic wankery that can invade TED Talks, but it seems to have a fondness for the source material as well; this wasn’t a cold-hearted butchering of the spirit of TED. I loved the constant callbacks: the university, the inexplicable wizard references, and especially the evolution of Sally, whose dream to be a bird / cat / helicopter was constantly being twisted. Whilst it took a while to get going, NED definitely delivered some decent giggles.