Turning Science into Stand-up Gold

It’s February – we all need a laugh. Luckily there’s a growing number of scientists turned comedians, comedians turned scientists, comedians talking about science, and scientists just finding very funny ways to talk about what they do. While the work they do is decidedly laughable, it’s also doing some heavy lifting – helping make science more accessible, understandable, and engaging. So in the name of fostering science literacy and spreading science appreciation check out these 10 amazing science comics.

Helen Arney DaveThePhotographer, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Helen Arney is an award-winning stand-up comedian, musician, podcaster, and science communicator. She has worked on TV shows such as BBC’s ‘Live at the Electric’ and ‘Science Shack’, performed two critically acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe solo shows, and produced five albums. This comedian is energetic, funny, and a passionate advocate of education and creativity – with a great English accent to boot. Check out her website and this great highlights reel. *Bonus: For upcoming Valentines Day check out her songs “Statistically I Love You” and “Animals”.*
  • Perhaps being born in England and named Helen predisposes a person towards a career in science comedy? Helen Keen is an award-winning writer, broadcaster, and comedian from London. She’s appeared on StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson and now hosts her own radio show “It Is Rocket Science” on BBC4. She is a regular speaker at science festivals around the world, and her writing has been published in outlets including The Guardian, New Scientist, WIRED, and The Atlantic. Check out her website or her TED Video about imagination and space flight.
  • Shane Maus is a comedian who has appeared several times on the Conan O’Brien show and in 2007 won the Best Stand-Up comic award at HBO’s Comedy Art Festival. He currently hosts the “Here We Are” podcasts which interviews scientists and produces “Stand Up Science” shows around the US. Check out a highlight reel of the show and his website.
  • Kasha Patel is an accomplished comedian, writer, and actor. She is best known for her appearances on the late-night talk show ‘The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon’ and her stand-up comedy specials on Netflix. Kasha is renowned for her unique brand of observational and relatable humor, which often features stories from her own life experiences. Check out this popular TED talk where she analyzes her stand-up routine with the help of excel, while being funny, and WHILE talking about the importance of science communication! Then check out her website.
  • Matt Kirshen is a comedian and Cambridge mathematician. He has written for the Jim Jeffries Show and Arrested Development and has appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Halon, The Late Late Show, and Star Talk. Today he hosts the podcast “Probably Science” and is also doing a cross-country stand-up tour (mostly sold out but worth checking here.)
  • Chuck Nice is a veteran comedian, actor, and writer who has appeared on Comedy Central, NBC, and FOX. His brand of humor is smart, irreverent, and often self-deprecating. He has been described as a “master of the one-liner” and is a master of finding the funny in everyday life. In 2009 Dr. Neil de Grasse Tyson reached out to Nice to team up since then it’s been a cosmic bromance with the two often cohosting on Startalk or co-guesting on other shows. Check out his website, his other popular podcast “Playing with Science” and his climate campaign “Shhh It’s Real”.
  • With the handle @sceincecommedian, it’s not hard to guess that Brian Malow is a science comedian, writer, speaker, and storyteller. Brian’s mission is to inspire people to think differently, ask questions, and challenge assumptions; and to make science accessible and exciting. He’s appeared on television shows such as Late Night with David Letterman, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and TED Talks and has written for numerous publications, including Scientific American and Harvard Business Review. Check out his twitter and youtube.
  • Kyle Marian is a comedian, science communicator, and anthropologist. She is a community manager at the show Science Friday and also produces a monthly stand-up show in NY called “The Symposium” for academics and researchers. Her focus is making science accessible and inclusive – and introducing others to the humor of museum collections! Check out her website or one of her early stand-up acts.
  • Jeff Cadwell is a former civil and environmental engineer now making the round of late-night shows, touring with Jon Stewart, and blogging about science at the Huffington Post. Check out his website and his old but still timely post “It’s not the Heat, It’s the End of Humanity”.
  • With a Ph.D. from MIT, postdocs from IBM and NASA, and a prolific lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology researching computer simulations of synthetic and biological polymers and plant alkaloids Pete Ludovice has a pretty good cover. However, underneath this cover is a stand-out stand-up comic who’s also passionate about injecting humor into science learning. Check out this video of his routine or if you’re looking for something more academic check out these articles about adding humor into the STEMS classroom.
%d bloggers like this: