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But Seriously…

But Seriously...


Conversations with a science comedian.
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Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Hello! Come in! Have a seat by the fire. Ooh, not so close! That’s better.

Let me tell you a bit about myself…Brian Malow in the Daily Planet

Unlike many of the bloggers here, I am not a doctor.  I sometimes say I play one in the broken dreams of my parents. And people laugh, although it isn’t a joke.

Or maybe it is a joke but it’s also the truth.

…which makes me think of wave-particle duality.  Perhaps someday I’ll develop my own quantum theory of humor, describing how sentences may exhibit properties of both jokes and truth.

But not today.  Today is for telling you about this blog.

If the Earth lost its gravity
and you went to school
the school would not be there.
And on the way home
You would not be there.
       – Brian Malow, 2nd grade

It seems I’ve been pondering the deep philosophical questions all my life.

I really should’ve become a scientist but, instead, I became a comedian.  Perhaps the two aren’t so different.

Isaac Asimov once said, “The most exciting phrase to hear in science – the one that heralds new discoveries – is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny.’”

This is true for comedians as well.  In fact, I can assure you, very few comedians have cried out, “Eureka!” for any reason at all in the past 2000 years.

See?  We’ve already learned something.  That’s the kind of comedian I am.  We laugh and learn.  In theory, anyway.

But seriously…  this blog will not just showcase the inane ramblings of a carbon-based comedian.  Oh, I’m sure there will be plenty of that.  But it won’t be merely monologue.  Often it will be dialogue, a term which also traces back to ancient Greece.

Brian Malow and physicist Dean Lee

Interviewing physicist Dean Lee about the Higgs Boson

I love conversation.  And I have a bias toward scientists and writers, artists and thinkers.  I’m insatiably curious and I love to ask questions. I like to learn and I like to share what I learn. I like to turn people on to ideas and the people who have them.

So you can expect to see a lot of interviews here, fun and informative, serious and light-hearted – in video, audio, and old-fashioned text.  If you can think of another format or medium, I’ll try that, too.

I like all the branches of science but you may catch me gravitating toward astronomy and physics. It’s probably genetic.

If you’re curious how I became a science comedian, here’s how I explained it to Symmetry Magazine a few years ago.

I think I’ve had the most unusual career of any comedian I know. While my peers are hoping for shows on NBC, ABC, and CBS, I’m scoring deals with NSF, AAAS, JPL and NIST. They’re being interviewed by pop culture magazines; I’m being interviewed by particle physics magazines.

I love it! I’ve performed for math teachers in Ft. Worth and for science teachers in Rochester.  For Cassini scientists at JPL.

Brian and EO Wilson

With Lord of the Ants, E.O. Wilson

I’ve entertained a uranium symposium in Colorado. Plant pathologists at NCSU. The American Chemical Society. The National Research Council of Canada. Superfund researchers.

By request, I delivered an infectious-disease-themed comedy show at an outlet of the National Academies.

I’ve produced science videos for Time Magazine. I’ve been to SpaceX and the Googleplex. I’ve interviewed Vatican astronomers and famous science fiction writers, discoverers of exoplanets and Kuiper Belt objects, insects and salamanders.

Brian Malow with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Really, what is there to say?

I’ve talked about ants with E.O. Wilson and neutron stars with Neil deGrasse Tyson. I’ve told my joke about Hawking Radiation to Stephen Hawking!

Brian Malow and Stephen Hawking

"What did the naked singularity say to the micro-black hole?"

And now I’ve got a full-time job in science communications at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.  What a long, strange trip it’s been.

 
I hope we’ll have a chance to get to know each other over time, and I’ll tell you these stories and more.  I look forward to introducing you to some amazing people as, together, we expand our universes.

 

 

Photos by Russ Creech, Karen Swain, Erika Vick
 

Brian Malow About the Author: Science comedian Brian Malow engages in lively conversation with scientists and writers for his own amusement and yours. Follow on Twitter @sciencecomedian.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.



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Comments 15 Comments

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  1. 1. davenussbaum 12:20 pm 01/28/2013

    “What did the naked singularity say to the micro-black hole?”

    What’s the answer??!?

    Link to this
  2. 2. curiouswavefunction 12:37 pm 01/28/2013

    Welcome! I love your performances and look forward to your posts. And what did the naked singularity say to the micro-black hole?

    Link to this
  3. 3. Bora Zivkovic 12:59 pm 01/28/2013

    Welcome to the Family!

    Link to this
  4. 4. Mind Greave 1:34 pm 01/28/2013

    You sound like the kind of person who has had a chance to do a few laps around our milky way, and have saved everybody else the hassle of making “that” trip, by going in there place, and being humble enough to share your experiences.

    Link to this
  5. 5. Aiya-Oba 5:37 pm 01/28/2013

    Marvelous, O’ marvelous Brian Malow.
    Science needs your kind of gusto,
    to be embraced by all the people.

    Link to this
  6. 6. aimee w 8:15 pm 01/28/2013

    welcome, Brian! great to see you here:)

    Link to this
  7. 7. CZHAbbott 8:17 pm 01/28/2013

    Welcome — Bora always finds the best bloggers!

    Link to this
  8. 8. CyrusRadfar 8:31 pm 01/28/2013

    I love seeing good things happen to great people. Was blessed to see him in candid action after a conference and he’s a breath of fresh air in comparison to the majority of humor out there. He also possesses, as he said, quite a love of science and fills a void in packaging science in an entertaining manner to inspire us to be more curious.

    Brilliant! Onward! This made my day.

    Link to this
  9. 9. Brian Malow in reply to Brian Malow 8:32 pm 01/28/2013

    Aw, thanks, Cyrus! See you soon!

    Link to this
  10. 10. Brian Malow in reply to Brian Malow 8:34 pm 01/28/2013

    Thanks for the kind words, everybody! It’s great to be here! (as my people say – my people, in this instance, being the comedians).

    Link to this
  11. 11. Brian Malow in reply to Brian Malow 8:43 pm 01/28/2013

    Okay, so the punch line to that joke… I must preface it by saying, you do understand that this joke was never intended for EVERYONE. It requires a bit of information for it to work. The few times I’ve used the bit in a show, I supplied the relevant information EARLIER in the show. Much earlier. Not immediately before the joke, because then it wouldn’t work as well.

    Also, there’s a great story that goes along with this joke. But I’ll have to save that for another time, another post.

    So, let me just tell you the joke and then explain…

    “What did the naked singularity say to the micro-black hole?”
    “Is that Hawking Radiation or are you just happy to see me?”

    Ha ha ha. Yes, I know. Real funny.

    But the joke has – if nothing else – a certain soundness… if you know… a micro-black hole might emit Hawking Radiation. And a naked singularity is a singularity not hidden behind an event horizon, so perhaps, theoretically, it might be seen.

    I’m here all week, folks!

    (please don’t judge me yet)

    Link to this
  12. 12. Glendon Mellow 6:28 am 01/29/2013

    So happy you’re on the network with us Brian! Welcome! Here’s some cheese.

    Link to this
  13. 13. kat6999 10:26 am 01/29/2013

    Great to see you here! I will be looking forward to your posts!

    Link to this
  14. 14. Jennifer Frazer 5:46 pm 01/29/2013

    Brian — Great to see you here! Welcome to the Sci Am community! Science + Comedy = Awesome.

    Link to this
  15. 15. sciencecomedian 7:48 pm 01/29/2013

    Thanks, Glendon and kat and Jennifer! I’ll try to keep it interesting. Or at least funny. Or at least not a total waste of time.

    Link to this

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