A Conversation with Dan Aykroyd (Part 1)

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About This Episode

Is there a science of humor? Find out when Neil deGrasse Tyson sits down with Dan Aykroyd, founding Saturday Night Live cast member and star of classics like Ghostbusters and The Blues Brothers. Dan deconstructs comedic forms, from improv and sketch comedy to sitcoms and movies, touching upon the universality of humor. (He also hints about the possibility of a Trading Places sequel!) But it’s not all about the laughs: Dan and Neil also discuss the molecular composition of vodka, crystal skulls, the Earth’s molten iron core, and all of the ingredients that coalesced to form America’s homegrown music, the Blues. Comic co-host Chuck Nice volunteers his own take on comedy, including how science and comedy rely on experimentation, what makes a great joke, and an uncanny impersonation of Bill Cosby. Plus, Astrophysicist Charles Liu shares a U. of Michigan study on the impact of flatulence on comedy.

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: A Conversation with Dan Aykroyd (Part 1).

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  • gregory balteff

    dan is very intelligent ….

  • Elliott Gussow

    In my opinion, comedians are great philosophers.

    Gilda Ratner: It’s always something.

    Henny Youngman: A guys says, “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” The doctor says, “Don’t do that!”

  • Jeff R.

    Pure awesomeness!!! 🙂

  • Elliott Gussow

    Oops: Radner

  • Doug Fraser

    The funniest thing I ever heard about Dan Aykroyd was during an interview with Bill Murray . . . Dan was/is a believer in pseudoscience/paranormal stuff and when asked about that Bill Murray said “Dan considered Ghostbusters a documentary!” 🙂

  • Jason Allen

    What a treat, Huge fan of both of you guys. You are both inspirations and great men in your own right. Science IS the new Rock-N-Roll. If all the universe is fractal in nature and it seems to be as far as I can tell, at least I have not found a single thing that cannot be expressed through Fibonacci’s Sequence including gravity, time, galaxies, atoms, ocean currents, welling emotions, electricity, soundwaves, seashells, acorns, crystals, skulls, cone-shaped skulls, crystal cone shaped skulls, skullduggery…uhhh… eggs… coastlines… then it stands to reason that there is a science to humor because science is the language we use to communicate reality, and humor is the highest form of communication, other than the blues that is. 😀

  • Jason Allen

    PS, It occurs to me a fractal universe rules out entropy and leaves room for infinite expansion in both directions of time, space, dimension, gravity, order of magnitude could explain expansion, why matter and energy are interchangeable and cannot be destroyed. Did I just solve unified field theory? Surely not. Please tell me I’m wrong or that I heard it somewhere else from some one like you or Mr. Hawking or Michio Kaku.

  • I much prefer your show to tardis dyskinesia. Startalk is an astronomical good.

  • Jim

    Stand-up is *not* the purest form of comedy. Stand up comedians spend months or years perfecting a single hour long act. It’s meticulous work that is all about fine-tuning a few thousand words, putting them in the right order, and mastering the timing. Improv is comedy Id. You get out there and you just do it. No prep, always open to whatever happens in the moment. That is pure comedy.

  • Rick Smith

    I love these shows and one of the best comedic actors.

  • Peter

    Where can I get Neil’s waistcoat! Love it. 🙂

  • Robert H. Pike

    Ackroyd was brilliant…reminded me of the articulate stuff he did in Ghostbusters.

  • I never knew Dan was a UFOlogist. That’s awesome!

  • Mark

    why did iTunes download this episode one hundred and forty times?

    • Jeff

      Mark, believe me when I say I’m just as frustrated as you. Here’s what our webmistress said about this issue: “Our feed is fine, so it’s likely an iTunes or Podcasts app issue. Both are notoriously wonky, and I’ve yet to read of anyone that doesn’t hate iTunes 11.1 for one reason or another. If it won’t stop on its own, there should be a setting in there to manually (not automatically) update podcasts only, which may help for the time being.” I’m not sure this is the answer you were looking for, but it’s the only one we’ve got.

  • I found an article about the parkway Dan’s father helped build in Canada, Thought it was an interesting glimpse into the past. Great interviews Dan is an entertaining guy with so many interests.

  • Matt

    As a geologist, I started yelling at my laptop when Neil was talking out about being molten all the way down – it’s solid in the middle! Otherwise, cool interview! 😀

  • Rick

    It is a punch line. A Higgs boson walks into a church, the priest says “we don’t allow Higgs bosons in here” The Higgs boson says “but without me, you can’t have mass”

  • Pingback: This Sunday, Neil deGrasse Tyson has a “Conversation with Seth Meyers” | StarTalk Radio Show by Neil deGrasse Tyson()

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