22 July 2003

Blogging from Boise

Part 4: Play behaviour of unrestrained primates

One of the things that has apparently become a tradition at the Animal Behavior Society meetings is an evening presentation of "acaoke" (ah-kay-o-kee): "academic karaoke." It owes a lot more to improve, theatresports, and Whose Line is it Anyway? than karaoke, though.

What happens is that the organizers collect a large number of slides (or, these days, Power Point diagrams). The "speaker" gets up and begins presenting his talk, using the slides provided. Except the speaker has no idea what the images on the next slide will be! So you may be talking about the historical background of Darwin's ideas (or, last night, his lesser known relative, "George Dubya Darwin"), and suddenly be faced with a slide of copulating lions, a cute child, a hideous graph, or a slide proclaiming in huge hot pink letters, "Size might matter!"

Like all improv, it can be laboured and painful to watch at its worst, but screamingly funny and inspired at its best.

I think I'll do it for this year's department Christmas party.

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