Alumni vs Students Comedy Debate: 'We should chase idle dreams'

20 August 2012

Many of the world's greatest ideas have come during moments of idle dreaming.
Many of the world's greatest ideas have come during moments of idle dreaming.

Tim Kreider, author of We Learn Nothing, wrote in a recent New York Times article: "Archimedes' 'Eureka' in the bath, Newton's apple, Jekyll & Hyde and the benzene ring: history is full of stories of inspirations that come in idle moments and dreams. It almost makes you wonder whether loafers, goldbricks and no-accounts aren't responsible for more of the world's great ideas, inventions and masterpieces than the hardworking."

Renowned American novelist Thomas Pynchon, in his essay on 'sloth', wrote: "Idle dreaming is often the essence of what we do."

Sound compelling? Surely then we should chase idle dreams?

Surprisingly no, according to University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence and ABC Radio host Adam Spencer. Joining forces with alumna Fiona Roughley - a Gates scholar and dual University medallist - the pair will argue against that proposition in defence of their hard earned title as last year's winners of the University's Alumni versus Students Comedy Debate.

On Thursday 30 August, in a debate moderated by comedian and alumna Julie McCrossin, the trio will battle it out against three top student debaters.

Their competition is fierce - the student team comprises government and philosophy student Eleanor Gordon-Smith, who was ranked fourth best speaker in the world in 2010; Nick Kraegen, a NSW finalist in this year's Triple J Raw standup comedy competition; and economics/law student Edward Miller who is the University's 2012 Director of Debates, and more importantly claims an almost flawless record in arguing with his parents.

Established in 2006 the Comedy Debate is designed to be humorous as well as informative. It routinely attracts audiences of up to 400 people including a diverse range of both students and alumni.

So why wouldn't a Vice-Chancellor known for his own polymath tendencies and expansive thought support the concept of idle dreams? And has radio host Adam Spencer been spooked by his listener - cement plant worker Byron Jackson - who told him to get a "real job" and took him to work in the real world for a day?

Come find out and see these teams go head to head in what is bound to be an entertaining and amusing event.

Event details

What: 'We should chase idle dreams', the 2012 Alumni vs Students Comedy Debate 2012 

When: 6 to 8pm, Thursday 30 August, doors open at 5.30pm

Where: The Great Hall, the Quadrangle, Camperdown Campus

Cost: $20, University of Sydney alumni and staff $15, University of Sydney students $10

Enquiries: or 02 9036 9278

Book online now 

A cash bar will be available before and after the debate.

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Media enquiries: Sarah Stock, 9114 0748, 0419 278 715,