Helen Keen knows that space and rocket science aren't the most obvious comedy show topics for a 'girl', particularly one who sounds as jolly hockey sticks as it's possible to get. But appearances can be deceptive, as the energetic and aptly-named Keen - actually from rural Yorkshire - demonstrates with the aid of some severe faced, dreamily ambitious scientists and a rather hot satanist.
If you like Robin Ince's School for Gifted Children you should love this show. Keen mixes fascinating offbeat facts about rockets and space travel with funny and wry observation, as well as throwing in some Struwwelpeter-esque shadow puppetry. Her enthusiasm for her subject is infectious, and the audience participation carried on beyond its alloted slot whenever the Russians or Americans were mentioned. And you totally have to hear the story about the bat bombs.
She also deserves massive props for dealing with, and incorporating, one of the most exasperating audience members we've ever seen. What started off as a bit of spirited front-row banter turned into pure interruption (nipping out halfway through an hour show to get a drink? At least he offered to get the comedian one). A note for anyone watching live comedy: the laughs don't come from the words themselves, they come from the rhythm and flow of how they're said. Disrupt a routine, destroy the tempo, and you can ruin an entire section. Our Camden berk should be grateful Keen was too sweet-natured to rip him apart for butting into the elegaic climax.
The award winning It Is Rocket Science! has been doing the rounds for a couple of years now but there are a few new sections to freshen it up for an Edinburgh run. Helen Keen doesn't often perform it in its entirety in London and we wholeheartedly recommend you catch it tonight, before it takes off into the dark again.
Helen Keen: It Is Rocket Science! is on tonight at 9pm at the Etcetera Theatre, above the Oxford Arms, 265 Camden High Street. The Camden Fringe runs until 29th August.