January 21, 2008

So, a Virus Walks Into a Bar...

Cruisin' 'round YouTube today I found a quirky making-of vid about science comedian Brian Malow's visit to the Koshland Science Museum here in D.C. back in May. Seems he was doing a show about infectious diseases to commemorate the museum opening a new display on the topic.



Back when I had time for life outside the office I used to docent at the Koshland, which is a relatively recent addition to the Washington museum scene. It's run by the National Academy of Sciences and sits on the corner of 6th and E NW near the NAS headquarters building.

What I love about the place is that it is the first science museum I've been to in a loooong time that is aimed at adults. Interactive displays and hands-on demos still apply, but the content is definitely written for high school and above. They also do a nice job appealing to "geek chic" in the city by hosting after-hours events such as book signings, wine-soaked mixers, and—apparently—stand-up routines.

Malow admits his repertoire is low on disease-related material, a fact made painfully obvious by the sound bites in this clip. This leads me to wonder, can there be good science-themed stand-up? And can science jokes ever be educational/inspiring, or are they merely for the pleasure of the already informed?

In school one of the most boring subjects for me was history, but my favorite stand-up artiste of all time, Eddie Izzard, seems to get some of his best material from topics like WWII and comparative religions. (If you have not yet experienced the joy that is Dress to Kill, check out the clip below.)



See? Genius. And pretty educational at the same time. So, fingers firmly crossed that when Malow makes a return visit to the Koshland in April to riff on time travel, neurology, and string theory, he'll have some Izzard-level material on hand.

1 comment:

Katy said...

I join your hope - the problem is that science is based in rules, not stories, and it's stories that make humor. Nevertheless, I think Watson & Crick could be a basis for humor, and seriously - string theory is just asking for the occasional guffaw.