Simon Pampena in The Maths Olympics [FringeTIX]
Simon Pampena @ Le Cascadeur
2:00pm, Sat 18 Feb 2012
Having seen Simon Pampena’s show last year, I remarked that I was a bit underwhelmed by the content of the show; but there was enough potential in Pampena – and, more importantly, enough hope in me – to warrant a Second Chance, and inclusion on The Shortlist.
But, as I waited in the shade by the side of Le Cascadeur, my hope dissipated a bit: as Pampena performed his soundcheck, all I could hear outside was material from last year’s show. And I became a bit worried – had I just signed up for a repeat performance under a different name?
There was a pretty reasonable crowd in – maybe thirty or forty people – and as soon as we were settled Pampena came storming in, his Australian-flag cape flowing behind him. Accompanied by his faithful PowerPoint presentation, he opens with a brief description of the Maths Olympics, throws in his rendition of Brainiac, then ducks back to the Australian love of sport as linking material… leading to Olympic medal tally results, and the dubious Jamaican “joke”.
And, at that point, about ninety percent of the material was completely familiar to me. I was disheartened, to say the least.
But then some new material appeared; Pampena returned to the Maths Olympics, showing off a number of the “sexy” contestants and country statistics, and applied the same comparison that he’d used with the Olympic medals – a nice touch. There was a pretty funny mock-ad for the fictitious Pythagora’s Theorem TV show, and he grabbed the rowdiest crowd member for a bit of Sudoku action (using AFL teams instead of numbers). There’s a few more rap songs, and the youngster in the front row got to dress up as Pi-Man – and was asked to solve a rearrangement of Euler’s Identity (a real Maths Olympics question).
So, despite being initially disappointed, I left The Maths Olympics reasonably happy I’d given Pampena a Second Chance. Though the material was still a little patchy, and the delivery sometimes veered into uncomfortable territory, it was a much more satisfying performance than last year’s effort. But it’s very much aimed at the more junior mathematicians, and the comedic aspects aren’t strong enough by themselves… so I’m not sure I’ll be prioritising Pampena’s Third Chance.