About This Episode
Nobody would deny that Jay Leno, the legendary host of The Tonight Show, is an expert about two things: comedy, and cars. In this episode of StarTalk, our host, Neil deGrasse Tyson, dives into both, with a little help from his in-studio guest, engineer Bill Nye the Science Guy, and comic co-host Matt Kirshen. First up, Jay shares one of his earliest memories rocking the house (an apartment in the Bronx) when he was just 4 or 5. Then he tells Neil a joke and explains why it works: “It’s like a verbal form of magic.” Next, you’ll hear Neil, Matt and Bill debate whether there is a formula to comedy, and why some jokes are still funny no matter how often you hear them. Explore the impact of political correctness and the increasing level of social sensitivity on the business of comedy. Then the conversation turns to whether millennials are smarter than either older or younger demographic cohorts, and Mona Chalabi stops by to add some hard data to the discussion. Turning to cars, you’ll find out what it was like when Neil took a 165 mph joyride in Jay Leno’s 245mph “Ecojet” super car that runs on alternative fuel. Review the history of the automobile, including why electric cars didn’t catch on even though NYC had charging stations every 10 blocks in 1908, and find out why cars, which are responsible for so much pollution today, were once the solution to “horse pollution.” You’ll also hear about the time Neil and Bill took a selfie with former President Barack Obama at the White House, and how Neil almost blew the moment. Plus, in a StarTalk first, gear head Bill introduces his own “Nye in the City” segment, where he gets under an exotic car to “turn some wrenches” and talk about the future of cars and why bow ties are safer than neck ties when working around rotating machinery.