In Buxton, I found myself in a park with a professional falconer with his band of birds. He took a shine to me and put a half a frozen rat on my head so his falcon could land on my hair as it swooped down from a tree. I was not prepared for the claws in my scalp with the half eaten dead rat. I then bought a pirate ship about six feet long thinking I got a bargain for only £125 and it was probably worth thousands. I carried it on the train - changing at two stations - only to be told by my friends it was hideous and looked like it cost 80 pound.
Besides the mingling with the wonderful and weird, I love doing the show; all the theatres are tiered like wedding cakes and the audiences are smart and quick to get what I'm talking about. It's such a great feeling to be onstage and not feel the usual desperation to get a laugh.
This show is a joy to do, I think because I'm not focusing on myself but talking about something I'm passionate about and obsessed with; the brain. It's based on my book Sane New World where I've stolen the research from some of my heroes in neuroscience and spun it in comedy (so they won't sue me for plagiarism). It seems wherever I perform people want to know about how this mysterious thing on top of their necks works; after all, it's who they are. I think people are becoming more curious as to why they do what they do and why they live the way they live. It's because we're being dragged to death by a life of busy-ness and we live our lives with no brakes, only breakdowns. To 'know thyself' is coming back into fashion. I guess we're also starting to realize that no matter how much money you make, how famous you are or how powerful, if you aren't awake at the wheel or spend your life trying to achieve some goal without even enjoying it; you have nothing.
I love talking about the fact that technologically we're at the top of our games but as far as knowing how our brains work, we're in the dark ages. It's like we have this Ferrari on top of our head but no one gave us the keys. It's amazing to me this information isn't shouted from the rooftops and on every headline of all newspapers, which is that our minds are malleable, like play-dough we can intentionally change the structure and therefore the way we think and behave. We can unwire neurons and rewire new ones to break our old habits of thinking and create new ones that might give us a more flexible outlook and dare I say, happier life. And this is called neuroplasticity. Gloria Gaynor was wrong when she sang, "I am what I am." We aren't what we are, we have many possibilities so she's going to have to change those lyrics but it's going to be hard because not much rhymes with neuroplasticity. This gives me so much hope and I hope that spreads to the audience.