Sep 3

This October, Bristol will be hosting a comedy night with a difference! If you’re in the UK, join us for a night of laughter and hilarity at Colston Hall, hosted by Simon Watt (Inside Nature’s Giants, the Infinite Monkey Cage) as we seek to delve deep into some of the weirdest creatures on this earth. Move away from the Panda, Tiger and Penguin and think ugly. No animal is too ugly to enter these doors – the floodgates have opened to a new era where ugliness rules! Tickets on sale now at the bargain price of £10.75 - don’t miss out!

Stand Up for Ugly Animals Banner

Featuring:

Simon Watt
Simon Watt is a biologist, writer, science communicator, comedian and TV presenter. He runs Ready Steady Science, a science communication company committed to making information interesting and takes science based performances into schools, museums, theatres and festivals.  Simon also runs the Ugly Animal Preservation Society which is a comedy night with a conservation twist.

Sara Pascoe
English writer, comedienne and actress Sara Pascoe has appeared on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Stand Up for the Week and QI. Sara started stand-up in late 2007 and the following year was a runner-up in the Funny Women competition and placed third in the So You Think You’re Funny? new act competition.

Bec Hill
Aussie comic Bec Hill hails from Adelaide and started comedy in 2006 at the tender age of 19, when she made the national finals of the Raw new act competition. Two years later made her solo debut at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with her show If You Can Read This My Cape Fell Off. The show won her a Critic’s Choice Award and a plethora of positive reviews, and, buoyed by success, she voyaged to the UK to take part in the Edinburgh Fringe.
Having received glorious reviews for her Edinburgh shows from the likes of Chortle and The Scotsman, Hill is now firmly based in the UK. She continues to impress on the live circuit and has set up a bi-monthly pun-based comedy night called Pun-Run, which has become a hit with seasoned comics and punters alike.

Helen Arney
Thinking that she’d left her geek past behind after graduating in Physics from Imperial College, Helen Arney proved herself wrong when she turned to writing original and funny songs inspired by science. Since touring the UK in Uncaged Monkeys with Robin Ince and Brian Cox, she’s popped up on Channel 4, BBC 2, BBC Radio 3, Radio 4, 5 Live and 6 Music, and at the Edinburgh Fringe with her award-winning solo show ‘Voice of an Angle’.
Helen also presents science on Discovery Channel in ‘You Have Been Warned’ and has filled several notebooks with rhymes for Uranus.

Dan Schreiber
Dan Schreiber is co-producer/ creator of BBC’s The Museum of Curiosity and a stand-up comedian. He also co-hosts the podcast ‘No Such Thing as a Fish’ and is one of the notorious ‘Elves’ – more commonly known as researchers – on BBC 2′s QI.

Sarah Bennetto
Sarah Bennetto is a stand-up comic from Melbourne, Australia, now living and performing in the UK. She has appeared on stage, radio and television as a stand-up comic and presenter, and is responsible for experimental comedy collective Storytellers’ Club.
Since living in London, Sarah regularly pops up on the radio, and hosts a radio show for WorthyFM, live from the Glastonbury Music Festival. Sarah has hosted Storytellers’ Club and performed stand-up comedy at festivals around the country. On television, she has appeared on ITV’s Take The Mic and Dara O’Briain’s School of Hard Sums.

Elf Lyons
Elf Lyons is a stand-up comedian, writer, director and actress. She is a founder member and compere of “The Secret Comedians”, a small comedy collective which she started when studying at Bristol University, and has since transferred to East London. She is also a co-director of OddFlock, a London based theatre company made up of a group of Drama graduates from the University of Bristol. She was Funny Women Finalist & Runner Up in 2013.

Stand up for Ugly Animals is in association with ‘The Ugly Animal Preservation Society’, Wildscreen Festivals & the global conservation organisation WWF.

Sep 13

Its grouchy face and slimy, gelatinous body have won the blobfish the honour of becoming the official mascot of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society, as well as the unofficial title of world’s ugliest animal.

Public vote

First taking form as a science-themed comedy night, the society launched a campaign urging members of the public to vote for its mascot from a pool of ‘aesthetically challenged’ threatened species. The main aim of the campaign, which was run in conjunction with the National Science and Engineering Competition, was to draw attention to the threats facing these bizarre and often ignored creatures.

Our traditional approach to conservation is egotistical,” said biologist and TV presenter Simon Watt, president of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society. “We only protect the animals that we relate to because they’re cute, like pandas. If extinction threats are as bad as they seem, then focusing just on very charismatic megafauna is completely missing the point.”

The campaign featured eleven ‘ugly’ species, each of which was championed by a comedian and was promoted via a special YouTube video message before the public was asked to vote for their favourite. “I have nothing against pandas,” added Watt, “but they have their supporters. These species need help.”

Proboscis monkey image

Proboscis monkey males have enlarged noses

Blobfish emerges victorious

After around 88,000 video views and more than 3,000 votes, the campaign came to its conclusion at the British Science Festival in Newcastle with the announcement of the blobfish as the winner. Supported by comedian Paul Foot, this species received a whopping 795 votes and will now become the official mascot of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society.

Some would describe it as a bit ugly, but I think the sad face of the blobfish belies a kind and very wise little brain in there,” said Foot of his chosen species.

A strange, gelatinous creature, the blobfish lives off the coast of south-eastern Australia and Tasmania, where it lives at depths of between 600 and 1,200 metres and is rarely seen. Incredibly, the blobfish is able to thrive at these depths, despite the pressure being several dozen times higher than at the surface. With its body being just slightly denser than water, the blobfish spends its life bobbing around in the ocean, feeding on crabs and lobsters. However, fishing trawlers pose a significant threat to this aesthetically challenged species, as it becomes caught up in their nets.

Titicaca water frog image

The Critically Endangered Titicaca water frog

Daily extinctions

With an estimated 200 species going extinct each day, the Ugly Animal Preservation Society is keen to promote the conservation of less well known or less adored species, and Watt is pleased with the success of the campaign, saying, “We’ve needed an ugly face for endangered animals for a long time and I’ve been amazed by the public’s reaction.”

Watt also hopes that the attention given to these animals has brought a lighter side to conservation, and that it has highlighted the importance of habitat conservation.

Carly Waterman, from the Zoological Society of London’s EDGE of Existence programme which aims to highlight and conserve evolutionarily distinct, ‘one-of-a-kind’ species, praised the efforts of the campaign, saying, “A large proportion of the world’s biodiversity is being overlooked, so flying the flag for these species is a really positive thing.”

Axolotl image

The axolotl, an unusual amphibian

Other contenders

A whole host of fascinating creatures were in line for the title of world’s ugliest animal, including the flightless dung beetle, the European eel and the dromedary jumping-slug. In addition to the blobfish, the other four species in the top five following the public vote were the:

Read more on this story at BBC News – Blobfish wins ugliest animal vote and The Guardian – Blobfish voted world’s ugliest animal.

Watch Paul Foot’s acceptance speech on behalf of the blobfish.

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Text Author

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