From a court martial for Edmund Blackadder to a whole host of problems for Basil Fawlty, communication problems are embedded at the root of our comedy culture. “Send three-and-fourpence, we’re going to a dance” was the famously misheard radio transmission from World War One. Presumably those at headquarters thought that the incident was a joke to relieve tension in the trenches, and didn’t realise that the front line wanted more men because they were about to attack.
The case of Tim Ngwena reportedly commenting that York is too geek-ridden, when he in fact said ‘geese’, is amusing. But it raises a serious question; are there really too many geeks at York? The answer to this depends on several things. Firstly, whom you define as a ‘geek’, and secondly, how many geeks would constitute as too many.
Firstly, we must find an definition of the term ‘geek’. The dictionary provides us with three options. A) A person regarded as foolish, inept, or clumsy. B) A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept. C) A carnival performer whose show consists of bizarre acts, such as biting the head off a live chicken.
Let us consider these. There is a notable absence of those who might fit into category C roaming around campus, which is a sad oversight in my opinion. Perhaps York could introduce courses that would attract more of these types, such as an Animal Mutilation for Purposes of Amusement BA. Those who fit into category A can be written off, as neither clumsiness nor foolishness fit into a single stereotype that can be identified as too numerous amongst students. Definition B, on the other hand, conjures up images of nerdy-looking, glasses-wearing obsessives. While demonstrating impressive abilities in the scientific field, they will probably be uncomfortable around large groups of people, and are most likely introverts at heart. Put simply, the ‘genius loner’.
The burning question now remains – are there too many of these people at York?
Looking at the facts, some of the best inventions in the world wer from these socially inept genii. Frank Whittle spent his spare time reading in the library, before going on to invent the jet engine. Konrad Zuse resigned from a perfectly interesting job building aircraft to work in his parents’ apartment to create the first computer, and George de Mestral spent his childhood designing planes rather than playing football. Oh, and he later invented Velcro.
Too many of these people? Why would we ever want less of them?