Ben Moor is performing Twelve at the Hen & Chickens, London N1 (0171-704 2001) to 2 Aug (not Mondays) and A Supercollider for the Family at the Battersea Arts Centre, London SW11 (0171-223 2223) on 3 Aug

Ben Moor is one of life's originals. I mean, how many other comedians would base material around scientific propositions and give their shows titles like "It Takes Forever If You Go By Inertia"?

After graduating in history, Moor turned to science for comic inspiration because "I saw a gap in the market. There are lots of stand-ups doing observational comedy about their own lives, but not that many doing observational comedy about electrons. So you stand out. Producers think, `Let's get that geeky bloke with glasses, that Magnus Pyke type'. Science can be really, really funny. It's neglected by the mainstream of comedy because it's a challenge to write and present in an accessible way. I'd rather not do jokes about what you find in the fridge or the difficulty of catching a bus, but about the amazing thing that is a quark. It takes my imagination in a different direction from others." You can say that again.

He hopes that his discussions of quantum physics on stage do not alienate those of us not quite so up to speed on the subject. "A lot of it is inaccessible," he concedes, "but there's no harm in trying an alternative to all that other stuff. If it makes one person come up to me in the bar afterwards and ask about science, then it's worth it."

Moor, who has been compared with both Lewis Carroll and Saki, likes to conjure up his own unique world on stage. In the two shows he is performing at present - Twelve and A Supercollider forthe Family - he revels in telling fantastical stories. In one, a miniaturised Pope fights with a RoboBuddha and King Confucius.

"I use science to launch into a world of wonder with its own set of logic," he explains. "If we get people's imagination clicked in by taking them away from the normal world through particle physics, then they'll be open to other, more stupid ideas like miniaturised Popes. Shallow waters lead to deeper waters. It's fine, as long as you want to have a swim in the lake in the first place.

"I'm saying to audiences, `Here's my world. Relax for a while, give me your imaginations and I'll take you away,' " Moor concludes. "I do nothing about sex or politics or human nature. My act has nothing to do with what goes on in this world at all. There is no similarity between me and, say, Mark Thomas. He's about what's going on, and I'm about what isn't."


The very talented impressionist Alistair McGowan - the man who sounds more like Alan Hansen than Alan Hansen does - appears alongside the accomplished Paul Tonkinson and Otis Cannelloni at the Hackney Empire, London E8 (0181-985 2424) tonight