Why and how did you start to do science comedy?
How: In 2013 I started to participate in Science Slams, a format, in which scientists present their own research in an entertaining way within 10 minutes. I’ve won the first European Science Slam championship in 2014. Soon after I published my first popular science book and joined the Science Comedy group “Science Busters”.
Why: It is hard not to talk about something, that you find truly interesting. And if you make it entertaining, you might reach people, that don’t feel very attracted to science to begin with.
Do you enjoy most the scientific part or the comic one? Why?
In this Science Comedy group that I’m in, we have a comedian (Martin Puntigam) who is leading through the show as MC with two scientists on his side. On stage, the comedic part is therefore outsourced, from the scientist’s perspective. This allows the comedian to go all in on the comedic part and the scientists to double down on the facts. For me, this is convenient, since I feel much more at home in the world of science, than that of comedy.
If you had to choose only one “definition“ would you consider yourself a scientist, or rather a comedian ?
Do you have any particular hobby? Is scientific comedy itself a hobby for you?
I like to list heavy weights, so I look more frightening on stage.
Do you think humor is an effective way to teach something, even when it comes to complex subjects, such as science?
It depends on the depth of the subject, that you want to go into. Humor can be a great way to get people interested in topics, that they didn’t expect to be interesting to begin with. Ideally some will follow up on it by readying relevant books or even choosing scientific careers themselves. Humor can act as the gateway drug, leading down a path to more complex subjects.
Would you suggest other effective ways to communicate science to people?
Be a cool person so that others want to be like you. Then talk about science a lot.
Which field of science would you consider comedy most suitable for?
Life is weird, so biology definitely delivers some nice material.
Do you have any specific source of inspiration?
Not really on the comedic part. But for science communication in general, I like to extensively listen to podcasts such as Making Sense from Sam Harris.
Please give some advice to aspiring science comedians.
Find a video of someone who does what you want to do. Then look at it so many times, until you can’t see it anymore, but feel like you’ve understood, how they do it. Also try to play at locations, where people drink a lot.