Stand-up Philosophy #3: ‘Time (and Memory)’

Tuesday 3rd July

Back for a third time at the Jeremy Bentham, this time our theme was ‘Time’. What is it? Could we ever travel backwards through it? And why is there never enough of it to both do the washing up AND go to the pub?

Featured Acts:

Creator of ‘The Geekatorium’ (Leicester Square Theatre) “Deft characterisation…highly likely to make you laugh.” – ThreeWeeks
– arguing that even if time travel was possible, we shouldn’t do it – here’s a badly shot video of it!


Philosopher and writer
– warning us not to try stepping into rivers and explaining why time is impossible to talk about, as featured in this equally badly-shot video:

Prizewinning Science Fiction author
– warning us to beware of the stories created by time and memory. Here’s the (still bad) video:

Top comedian and star of TV’s ‘Stand-up Hero’. “Delightfully offbeat” –
– Talking about the effect of the past on identity (Annoyingly the video ran out of memory…)


Stand-up Philosophy 2# ‘Justice’

Stand-up Philosophy is definitely working. The audience for the second show saw a line-up of acts who were pretty much perfect in terms of them all being extremely proficient comedy performers, as well as all having interesting and different takes on the question of Justice…

DOUGIE WALKER opened the show pretty much perfectly with a thing called ‘What’s so fucking great about fairness anyway?’, in which he argued that a lot of the principles of fairness which we associate with the notion of ‘justice’ (ie treating people the same, etc) don’t really work. He nevertheless argued (with some success) that justice would have to be in some way connected with empathy.

LINDSAY SHARMAN talked about a variety of problems associated with Justice, but in particular raised some really interesting points about whether a person can be just or unjust to their future self. (She was also very funny – out of all the philosophers involved in the show, she the one about whom most people came up afterwards and said, “she was really funny”).

TONY DUNN approached the problem with an analysis of how justice might apply to psychopaths, considering the fact that it doesn’t make sense to punish psychopaths because their inability to empathise with others means that they often can’t really believe that they’ve done anything wrong. Added to the difficulties when it comes to identifying psychopaths, and the fact that they nevertheless have to be prevented from doing harm to others, he claimed (quite convincingly, if somewhat depressingly) that perfect justice is impossible in any world which contains psychopaths.

And the former solicitor and now top stand-up ANDREW WATTS headlined the show with a new and fascinating spin on the question, pointing out that the principle that legal judgments must set precedents in order for later cases to be just, had thrown up all kinds of bizarre anomalies when it came to the practical application of justice; he illustrated this somewhat brilliantly with the problems surrounding the legal status of necrophilia…