July 26, 2014 12:39 pm

“You can’t joke about Anencephaly” – Preview Big Brains at BAM Part 2

Photo of Heather Berlin, Mayim Bialik and Neil deGrasse Tyson taken by Elliot Severn.

Science on stage: neuroscientists Dr. Heather Berlin and Mayim Bialik and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Photo Credit: Elliot Severn.

“You can’t joke about Anencephaly.”

There may be no more qualified person on the planet to say that than Mayim Bialik. As a real life neuroscientist who plays one on the hit TV comedy, The Big Bang Theory, Mayim knows where the lines are. She knows what’s funny when it comes to dealing with people who fall outside the popular definitions of what can be considered normal – and even serves as the show’s go-to resource on matters of the brain.

(A person with anencephaly is somebody who is born without a major portion of their brain, and most children born with this birth defect do not survive.)

The balance of humor and science is in StarTalk Radio’s DNA. It’s a basic premise of the experiment, as Neil deGrasse Tyson likes to refer to the show. And if you’re a regular fan of the show, and especially of StarTalk Live!, you know that sometimes, the humor can be a little challenging for some of the scientists on stage, who aren’t typically used to explaining things while being bombarded by comedic pot shots lobbed at targets of opportunity by quick-witted comedians, or even by our equally quick-witted host Neil deGrasse Tyson and frequent guest/guest host Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Not so in StarTalk Live! Big Brains at BAM Part 2. The two neuroscientists in question, Heather Berlin and Mayim Bialik, are more than a match for Eugene Mirman, Michael Ian Black and Paul Rudd, hilarious as they were.

Heather has been here before, as one of our guests in Live at the Bell House: “The Space Between Your Ears” Part 1 and Part 2.

Mayim has to keep it together and stay in character as Amy Farrah Fowler no matter what Sheldon Cooper (aka Jim Parsons) throws at her. If you’re a fan of TBBT, you know the 3-time Emmy Award Nominee for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series can dish it out, too.

Obviously, StarTalk Live! is not a contest between the comedians and the scientists on stage. But if it were, then I would definitely score Round 2 of Big Brains at BAM in favor of the neuroscientists.

Although it may not have been a fair fight, because, as Mayim points out, “You can’t joke about Anencephaly. You just can’t.”

Listen to Part 2 this Sunday, July 27 at 7:00 PM ET on our website, iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn and SoundCloud. Part 3 will air next Sunday. (If you haven’t heard Part 1 yet, you can listen here now.)

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!

–Jeffrey Simons


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