What is Stand Up Philosophy

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This blog charts my attempts, in whatever way I can, and whenever I can, and as honestly as possible, to stand up for thinking - real thinking, whether in philosophy or politics, or maths - Because thinking needs standing up for!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What made you a stand up philosopher?

" Time bought me here "
The idea of stand up philosophy was born really from three things.
Firstly and most deeply, running through my show is my simple love for philosophy and for the problems it asks. Most particularly I love thought when it challenges our expectations about what the world is - be it our perceptions of the importance of Time or the balance of perception and reality, or the idea of freedom, philosophy has much to ask of us, and much to challenge us with. To perform philosophy is therefore to liberate some of the most powerful of ideas, and beautifully written intense words, from their traditional scholarly context, and introduce them into new contexts, so that many can feel their force and challenge.
Secondly the idea of stand up philosophy has appealed to me because of my own rather unique circumstances. I have a 'condition' which was, say thirty years ago, called mild dyslexia, but had by twenty years ago become severe dyslexia (although I has remained the same) and then changed by some odd 'medical' metamorphosis, a decade ago or so to 'Dyspraxia', before finally dropping off all scales, and the spectrum, to become what it always was - an oddity (which actually was a great relief). Suffice it to say that between my thoughts and my fingers a strange miasma exists. So that however clear an idea is in my head, and however subtle the way I think I am writing it is, however nuanced, and intricate, what actually appears on the page has spelling that would disgrace an eleven year old and far more critically, grammar that at times would disgrace an infant school. While at the same time, every piece of paper I lay my hands on ends up crumpled... All of which means means I do not really fit in neatly with traditional academia, which perfectly naturally, tends to judge on the written word, and to be somewhat suspicious of the spoken.
Finally, partly perhaps because of the dyslexia, I have always loved teaching, and presenting ideas so that everyone or any one can get something out of them, and have the chance to use them. Professionally I teach maths, but always, in my brief university career, loved teaching philosophy, and the show was a natural extension of that love. It just felt right, to still be presenting the ideas and thoughts I valued most... a feeling that was confirmed both when I started my stand up routine and when a very wide variety of audiences seemed to really engage with the show, which then developed to include more and more philosophy, but also became more varied, as the routines included some performances which drew upon my other storytelling / dramatic shows.

The result is a show that is I hope at once true to philosophical roots, but highly varied and engaging performances, from clear expositions of complex ideas, through to dramatic and powerful renditions of a philosophy, or perhaps the moment the philosopher suddenly had 'THAT IDEA', to crowd-pleasing, audience-participation, storytelling style pieces which remain quirkily thoughtful, and surprisingly complex. A sequence of performances and styles which create a show which I hope straddles many divides and is capable at once of making professional philosophers smile, while it engages those who have a passing knowledge of the ideas, and intrigues and encourages the lay person, but above all, and at all levels remains splendid entertainment.

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