Review of Simon Watt: Frogs and Friends

By Carmel Shortall

Simon WattIt’s unusual to find a fringe show that informs, entertains and disgusts in equal measures but Simon Watt: Frogs and Friends does the job admirably. Part lecture, part slide show and part stand-up comedy, the show has a serious side – raising awareness of conservation issues and the threats faced by creatures not quite as cute as say, the panda with its “monochrome charisma.”

When Simon Watt and The Ugly Animal Preservation Society launched an online campaign to find the ugliest mascot for the society, he wasn’t expecting to get hate mail from four-year olds. But the campaign took off and, despite close competition from the Proboscis Monkey, the Black Crested Macaque (its bum, not its face) and – the stuff of nightmares – the Gob faced squid (see below – nice teeth!), the ultimate winner was the Blobfish. Described by Robin Ince as the Liberal Democrat of ugly creatures, it now adorns the cover of Simon’s new book, The Ugly Animals: We Can’t All Be Pandas.

Various cities have elected their own ugly mascots by now and, incidentally, the Gob faced squid is Edinburgh’s ugly mascot. Just saying.gob faced squid

It’s not all doom and gloom: of all the creatures losing their woodland or rainforest habitats, we learn that the (perfectly hideous) pubic louse is also in danger from deforestation, due in no small part to the prevalence of Brazilian waxing. Every cloud … eh?

But among some of the most endangered animals of all are frogs and toads – including two thirds of all frogs – and this show is about frogs after all. We learn fascinating frog-related facts and are introduced to some of the most venomous on the planet – a hipster frog with lethal moustaches; the Horny toad which shoots venomous blood from its eyes (“every goth’s dream”) and the Colorado toad – if you get caught with more than ten of these in Nebraska you get done for ‘possession’!

Clever and funny, this show has its heart in the right place – see it if you can. Or get the book!

Simon Watt is a biologist involved in such TV and radio programmes as Inside Nature’s Giants and The Infinite Monkey Cage with Brian Cox and Robin Ince.

This is the adults-only version of the show but more child-friendly versions exist. Check out websites: www.uglyanimalsoc.com and www.readysteadyscience.com as well as Twitter: @simondwatt and @uglyanimals.

Last show is tonight at 6.30pm at the Camden Comedy Club, upstairs at the Camden Head, 100 Camden High Street. Tickets £5.

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