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Dr. Bunhead's Receipes for Disaster
The Malay Mail
Dr Bunhead's "Recipes for Disaster"
is an entertaining yet educational affair

By Amir Hafizi

If anything, Dr Bunhead's Recipes for Disaster shows that you can't keep a good scientist down. Dr Bunhead (whose real name is Tom Pringle) was having a bad day last Saturday. The Actors Studio Bangsar was only half-full for the 5pm show; he had just completed another tiring performance at 3pm; the audience was a bit unresponsive and worse of all, Andrew, the boy who supposedly ‘ruined' his show two days back, decided that it was time for another session on stage.

"If I could have seen that it was you, I wouldn't have invited you up here," joked the harried ‘doctor'. "Anyway, there's no way I could get out of this, could I?"

Nope. Not a chance.

However, Bunhead carried on with it. He had Andrew holding a torch as he blew custard powder out of a tube towards the flame, making a cloud of explosion which delighted the children in the audience.

It was just one of the many pyrotechnics which littered the show. There were no less than 20 explosions in the hour and a half performance, each bigger and louder than the last.

After completing each loud bang, Bunhead would say his catchphrase – "Call that an explosion?" – and proceed to do even bigger, more dangerous stunts.

He set his partially bald head on fire, just for kicks, using the highly flammable hydrogen gas. Then he went on and demonstrated the properties of liquid oxygen – a vital component of rocket fuel – in making small embers burst into flame.

Sure, this is something for kids, but the flammables could satisfy even the most sadistic of pyromaniacs.

"All of these are real science experiments," said Bunhead at the beginning of the show.

Parents need not be alarmed, as it would be quite doubtful that your toddler or preteen child could get a hold of a can of rocket fuel or a tank of hydrogen gas. Unless you give them a credit card, of course.

Plus, Bunhead makes very good points on safety.

"What I'm doing is NOT stupid and totally irresponsible," he would say, as he handled some highly volatile substances. "What I'm GOING to do IS stupid and totally irresponsible."

His focus on safety was also very evident when inviting people on stage as lab assistants.

He made sure that Andrew's hands and head were turned away from the flames; when he fired his laser-guided potato bazooka, Bunhead made certain that the audience in the firing line moved away.

There were not just explosions and fireworks in the show. Some of the experiments were highly entertaining and interesting, without the use of big bangs or fancy combustion.

For instance, Bunhead demonstrated what it meant when breakfast cereal boxes claim that they have iron in the flakes – they really do!

Bunhead made cereals move towards a particular direction using a very powerful magnet. "Our breakfast cereals are actually magnetic!" That revelation was cool.

Now, even though the experiments were indeed the stars of the show, Pringle's performance as the good doctor was also a vital element.

If only science was this interesting back in school. Full of explosions, a wacky teacher and, of course, a hefty dose of fart jokes.

Toilet humour could always captivate the most discerning of all audiences – children. Dr Bunhead's Recipes for Disaster has that in abundance.

With every fart or references to excreta, Bunhead was teaching the kids (and adults) some of the fundamental principles in basic science.

He managed to justify each of the fireworks and sneakily insert some scientific facts into each of his stunts. He explained about the essential components in combustion, energy and erm… err… things with molecular structure, gluons, quarks and expanding coke bottles.

Maybe the Ministry of Education should look into inserting some poop humour into the syllabus to keep the kids interested.

Anyway, the show could also entertain and educate lots of adults as well. In fact, some of the biggest laughs came from the parents as Bunhead sneaks a mild innuendo or two in his experiments.

There was one when oblong balloons dipped in a canister filled with liquid nitrogen would shrink and then expand as the air heated up outside of the container.

"There is a reason for everything, ladies," said Bunhead.

Some adults may walk away feeling rather smart that they have learned some primary school science.

"I guess you've redeemed yourself, Andrew," said Bunhead, after another successful experiment with the nine-year-old boy's help. "I can't give you a Nobel Prize, but I do have some Nobel Stickers."

All in all, Dr Bunhead's Recipes for Disaster is an interesting show for the geek in all of us. Pringle's performance, like any experiment, could have been better if he had the right atmospheric conditions, i.e. more participatory observers. Then again, all shows would.