June 3, 2018 9:30 pm
Today’s guest post is by Jen Walsh, who manages StarTalk’s Twitter and Google+ communities and its weekly email newsletter. She’d like to note that she is NOT an astrophysicist, though she really likes digital media and space puns. You can follow her personal Twitter @notjenwalsh.
What do sock monkeys, StarTalk All Stars, and science puns have in common? This past Monday, they were all featured in All-Stars host Natalia Reagan‘s science/comedy variety show at Caveat. That Human Show featured a cast of scientists and comics, including fellow All-Star and neuroscientist Heather Berlin and StarTalk writer/comic co-host Sarah Siskind.
One of my favorite things about working with the StarTalk All-Stars is discovering all of the incredible things our hosts do outside of the podcast. What you hear on the show is truly just the tip of the iceberg with these folks – our All-Stars are authors, researchers, TV hosts, and so much more. When Natalia, a primatologist and comedian, invited me to see her perform in a sketch show she’d written and produced, I jumped at the chance to check it out.
Caveat is an intimate space that looks like if a mad scientist and Don Draper started an interior design firm. The walls surrounding the stage are lined with newly released books, and the space feels like it’s halfway between a traditional cabaret and an academic club. Caveat co-founder Ben Lillie describes the venue as “the newest home in New York City for intelligent nightlife,” and That Human Show’s uber-nerdy sketch comedy as intelligent nightlife at its most fun.
The show opened with Natalia introducing us to Martine the Disco Sock Monkey and Martine’s best friend, Sock Cousteau (Rachel Scherer and Austin Sanders). These aren’t your kid’s sock monkeys – they’re globetrotters who met at a foam party in Ibiza and have since settled down in Brooklyn. The show’s one-man house band, Rob Reagan, soon joined on stage.
The intervening sketches featured an interview with StarTalk All-Stars guest, paleoanthropologist Shara Bailey, about teeth, science communicator Dustin Growick confronting dinosaur puppets about their untimely demise, a “Know Your Neanderthal” game show, “Social Justice Storytime” with anthropologist and comedian Kyle Marian, and a fake ad for a 1-900-SCIENCE-AND-CHILL with some killer pick-up lines.
One of my favorite sketches featured a zombified Natalia interviewing Heather about their mutual love of brains – eating and studying them, respectively. It was a lot of fun to see two of our All-Stars bantering back and forth in such an intimate setting, especially when you can laugh and learn something new at the same time.
Our very own Sarah Siskind ended the show with a PowerPoint about the 2007 horror film Teeth, ending with a jazzy (and NSFW) show tune about vagina dentata.
“That Human Show” proved to be an intriguing adventure into the intersection of science and comedy, which is where we live here at StarTalk. I hope the show returns soon so more audiences can experience its pure, geeky joy. It’s a show that answers the tough questions, like “Who would you rather pick up your dry cleaning – a giant ground sloth or a woolly mammoth?”
Natalia has appeared in several events this week as part of Caveat’s Underground Science Festival. Tomorrow, 6/4, she’ll be co-hosting Science for Social Change, an event examining hot-button social issues through the lens of science. Learn more and buy tickets here.