September 17, 2013

A night with Adam Buxton


He kind of looks like Steve Jobs in that picture.

I went along to see Adam Buxton at the Union Chapel in Islington last night, called ‘Kernel Panic’. As I have been shockingly bad at writing on this blog lately, I thought this might be a timely excuse to have a good old duck’n’waffle (my new term for ‘waffling” yeah that’ll definitely catch on).

Not that anyone would have really noticed or PANICKED, but I always feel bad when I haven’t written about something outside of ‘the working day’ for a while. It’s a little pinch to myself to step away and do something that’s not just sitting staring at a screen. OH WAIT.

So here it is, a blog post that is actually about staring at screens – how very relevant. I’m going to give you my long-winded, rambling review of the Adam Buxton gig (is it called a gig, if it’s a comedian playing random stuff on his computer?)

Anyway, I first came across Adam Buxton a few years ago at an awards ceremony for Stuff magazine, I was working for P&G at the time and a campaign we’d launched for Duracell had been nominated for some sort of manly gadget award. We had sat down for our dinner with other marketing execs and Buxton came on armed with a MacBook Pro, and before we knew what was going on or who he was, he’d had us all in fits of uncontrollable giggles as he surfaced some hilarious (and pretty indecent) YouTube comments.

His whole act that night was taking the mick out of people who wrote the weirdest, most bonkers comments (most of which were spelt incorrectly or had unfortunate malapropisms). Grammar police and punctuation detectives in the audience laughing ‘ho ho!!’ Good lord, people get so angry on the Internet – that was the message. And let’s be honest, it’s so funny watching people get angry and on the Internet (mainly just about mainstream music videos). My personal favourites are the ‘smug commenters’ who clearly wear aviators as they type.

This comical YouTube analysis is Buxton’s most well-known act. And it’s genius. He reads out the most ridiculous YouTube comments from the depths of the Internet, bringing them to life with a brilliant, sarcastic commentary to show the type of beings we currently mingle with unknowingly in society. For a televised version of this type of humour, you can visit this link showing Buxton hosting Never Mind the Buzzcocks (oh what a brilliant invention this TV show is).  I’ve just had a little Google, and it looks like the Comedy Reviewer from the Telegraph thinks Buxton doesn’t need his old YouTube material any more. I did think that he’d done a similiar act a few years ago, but if it ain’t broke….

Last night was a better, bigger performance, but he still only came armed with his MacBook Pro. He’s this middle-aged, cool Dad, geeky type, who clearly knows way too much about HTML, the Internet, and binary code, and other things no one really knows that much about. It’s clear that these three things, plus many more (including hardcore editing skills) means this man can deliver a mean presentation. He knows how to work the room using only Internet memes let me tell you.

The fascinating thing about the performance is that, he simply told stories us through his laptop. They were not in chronological or in fact any logical order. He just took us on a magic carpet ride of his MacBook of Wonders. Essentially we can all relate to this, a guy with his laptop, showing us all his favourite Internet discoveries. It sounds pretty simple, but it the actual set up of his presentation would have seriously complicated. It definitely named and shamed any PowerPoint professionals in the audience that’s for sure. It was like he had literally choreographed his laptop to perform and he just kept relaxed. His whole presentation looked so effortless, so sleekily put together, which each slide, video or GIF seamlessly tying into one another.

Another thing he made me realise is how much we are all so programmed to enjoy watching things on the screen. Although Buxton was talking over his slides, we were all glued to the screen, finding all the moving pictures and folder clicking mesmerising because it was so familiar to us. We are in an era now where it is sort of frowned upon if you’re a young worker and not to be able to create images, to code things and make things ourselves with the ever-evolving technology we have. Buxton is a talented guy who knows how to make people laugh by showing funny videos. It’s basically a larger-scale version of your lunchbreak at work – and he’s getting paid to do it infront of 1,000 people at a time.

Let this be a lesson to you all – if you are good at telling stories, in whatever random way it might be, enjoy creating things, imagining up ideas – it’s easier to spread your message now than ever before. All you need is an Internet connection and preferably a computer that doesn’t crash. And Twitter. And Photoshop.

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