Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas

5 lightbulbs with the words Caabret of Dangerous Ideas underneath


The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas (CoDI) provides an informal but high-profile platform for researchers to discuss their work with members of the public. It is curated by the University of Edinburgh as part of Beltane Public Engagement Network, produced by Fair Pley, and compered by comedian Susan Morrison.

CoDI shows are designed to be as interactive and human as possible – they’re not the place for lectures. For this reason, CoDI has three rules:

  • At least 50% of the show must be spent on discussion with the audience
  • No slides or any other electronic presentations (like videos)
  • Really, we mean it, NO slides or any other electronic presentations!

The provocative topics inspire questions and debate, bringing researchers and audience to new perspectives, knowledge and, occasionally, strong emotion! Our expert compere ensures shows are always entertaining and never overstep the mark.


CoDI started at the Edinburgh Fringe in the summer of 2013. Like most fun-but-slightly-scary things, it was the brainchild of Susan Morrison; Lara Isbel helped develop the initial concept, then Stephen Wright (Fair Pley), Sarah Anderson (The University of Edinburgh/Beltane Network) and Susan ran with it.

The first summer was painful – we learned the hard way about how the expectations of the Fringe beast and university people can differ. However, we survived, and enough of our performers enjoyed it that we went on to do a second and third year. The summer of 2020 will be CoDI’s eight year at the Edinburgh Fringe!


First and foremost, CoDI would not happen without the many brave, enthusiastic and good-willed researchers who’ve been involved, and their supporters. With over 230 CoDI performances to date, there are now many, many CoDI alumni. Researchers/performers have been from universities in Edinburgh and beyond.

Other key people who’ve helped it happen:

  • Susan Morrison – resident compere for all years who can always find the bright side
  • Stephen Wright, Fair Pley – (very patient) producer who had faith in us even when we lost him money
  • Fiona Murray – programme curator from 2019
  • Sarah Anderson – original programme curator and shepherd of researchers 2013-2018
  • Dee Davison – programme curator for year 2015 (Sarah’s maternity cover)
  • Silje Graffer, Lucy Gibbons, Alex Oates, Alexandra Cameron, Tabitha James, Lola Moutel-Davesne, Isabel Duffy – incredibly capable interns who pretty much ran the show from June onwards in 2014 (Silje), 2015 (Lucy), 2016 (Alex), 2017 (Tabitha and Alexandra), 2018 (Lola) and 2019 (Isabel).
  • Heriot-Watt Engage – the team supports Heriot-Watt researchers performing at CoDI
  • Dawn Smith – as Edinburgh Napier’s Public Engagement Officer, Dawn supports Edinburgh Napier researchers performing at CoDI
  • The Stand Comedy Club – they keep wanting us back each August!

There are many more people who could be on here: like raising a child, CoDI really does take a village!

What Can I Do?

You can perform or, if that’s not for you, please come to the shows and tell your friends about them.