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Matt Parker on being a stand up mathematician, his favourite number, and why your life expectancy will have gone up before you reach the end of this sentence

How does you become the expert ‘stand up mathematician’?
The trick is to find an obscure intersection of two industries so you have little competition! I work part-time as a stand-up and also a part-time "Maths Communicator" It’s  it's not a very crowded venn diagram.
 
What is the strangest statistic that your show reveals (apart from that 20 Americans are killed every year by cows)?
I was amazed at how optimistic all the statistics ended up being. In fact, life expectancy in the UK is going up so fast that if you spend two hours watching our show (with interval) your life expectance will have increased by 24 minutes. Which means you're really only wasting 1 hour and 36 minutes of your life...
 
Your show features the grim reaper – can you tell us any more?
We do our best to systematically kill off the audience as if they were a normal population ageing at the rate of one year every minute of the show. But one person will actually get to try their odds with the Grim Reaper, but just like the real-deal: you never know when he will appear or how he will finish you.
 
Is it more difficult to involve the audience in the show when the topic is mathematics?
The great thing about comedy as a very democratic art is that you can talk about whatever you want as long as the audience finds it funny.

So I make sure everything I do is entertaining in its own right and just happens to have maths as the subject matter.

You don't need to be a maths nerd and arrive for the show with a calculator to enjoy it (but for those that do, there's an extra dusting of hard-core maths jokes to keep them entertained).
 
Why are people not as excited about maths as you are?
I find that most people base their impression of maths on what the 14 year old version of themselves thought when they were forced to learn about trigonometry in Year 9. Very few of my opinions have remained unchanged since I was 14.

When people take a second-look at maths now that they're adults, they find it much bigger, more interesting and easier than when they were an adolescent.
 
Why is the number 496 (currently) your favourite?
The number 496 was my favourite because if you take all of the numbers that divide evenly into it (its factors: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 31, 62, 124,248) and add them together, they sum to 496. (1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 16 + 31+ 62 + 124 + 248 = 496) These are called "Perfect Numbers" and they're very rare; the next one after 496 is 8128.

But my favourite number is now 3435. 3435 is where shit's at.

Interview by Alasdair Morton

Your Days Are Numbered is at Leicester Square Theatre, WC2H 7BX
Apr 28, 7pm & 9.30pm/ Apr 29, 5.30pm/ Apr 30, 9pm


Tickets: £12 
Station: Leicester Square
Web: leicestersquarethetre.com


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Interview: Matt Parker on being a stand up mathematician
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