Edward James

Edinburgh Fringe review: Dan Schreiber, Cockblocked From Outer Space

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Dan Schreiber is best known as a QI elf and co-creator of The Museum Of Curiosity, but he is also an accomplished standup – and his debut Fringe show, Cockblocked From Outer Space, is designed to prove it.

He starts by showing weird & wonderful headlines from around the world, including a brazilian city being on werewolf alert after a hoax spooked one of its top news outlets. Schreiber explains how he grew up in Hong Kong, moved to Australia and graduated from a hippy school with no meaningful qualifications, and then moved to England. He has since been fascinated by the pursuit of knowledge, but lacks the experience and papers necessary to go into any specific academic field

Through his research for QI and its radio spinoffs, Schreiber has met people with incredible, specific job titles such as “pubic lice hunter” and “NASA Sniffer”. He remains fascinated by these people, but never considered himself a geek until much later in life, when he retrospectively realised that his school nickname in Hong Kong (Dandan), was not just a play on his name but also an insult in Cantonese.

Schreiber has a lot of knowledge and a great sense of humour, but that hasn’t worked out well for him in the romantic arena – as exemplified in a few stories where he attempts to chat up girls by listing interesting facts, with limited success. The one time he does get close, going on a date with an employee of NASA, Schreiber is quite literally Cockblocked From Outer Space, as Commander Hadfield sends her an email, mid-date, from the International Space Station.

As Schreiber points out, it’s difficult to meet people when you’re a geek, because the one place all geeks hang out is the library, and you’re not allowed to talk. The closest most nerds get to the opposite sex is the nude scenes in Game of Thrones, a show containing the perfect fantasy venn diagram for geeks.

All of these topics paint a picture of Schreiber’s upbringing, and pigeon-hole him as somebody who studies the weird and wonderful rather than experiencing it. However he has recently challenged this by taking himself on small adventures, firstly joining Brian Blessed on his climbing adventures, and then going to a conspiracy theory meeting in London to discuss the possibility that the Middle Ages never happened, among other ideas.

He becomes obsessed with the idea that mythologies, languages, and skills are disappearing through history, and discusses how he would use a time machine to visit the much smaller moments in history that don’t meet the headlines, but show much more about the people involved.

If you are a geek (and you probably are, if you’re reading comedy reviews), Dan Schreiber is the perfect comedian for you. His show contains equal helpings of fascinating trivia, humorous anecdotes, and razor-sharp observations.

Date of live review: 21 August 2014 @ Underbelly

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