Earlier this year at the Philadelphia Science Festival, I teamed up with comedians to dramatize (term used very loosely) real life events from the history of science and medicine. We've done it three years running, and it works like this: I give a monologue on a historical topic, then the improv group does a comedy riff on the crazy historical stories I share. And, I kid you not, people laugh.
Because despite what you think, history, science, and professors are (well, can be) funny.
Expanding on our popular act from the Science Festival, I am again teaming up with Philly Improv Theater’s Improv House Team "Asteroid!" to create a full hour of spontaneous comedy inspired by brutally honest science. The event – this Thursday through Sunday at the Fringe Festival – is called “Study Hall.” In it, I will exploit every ounce of my tenure to lecture on a wide variety of topics (many not appropriate for kids) and Asteroid! will warp each lesson into outrageous scenes on the spot.
What makes this so funny? Asteroid! member Jessica Ross says that “it's like taking the most interesting class in school and then getting to see the class clowns make fun of it.” For the improv artists, the format is a challenge they enjoy. As Asteroid!’s Lora Magaldi told me: “It's a great way to learn to listen to information because you need to remember as many details as possible and then be able to extract them over the course of the show.” And I can tell you that the whole troupe are true improve/comedy professionals, and it has been a joy to work with them.