January 2010

Brian Malow: A Stand-Up Man for Science

Today, he continues to immerse himself in the latest print and online scientific stories daily, turning his brain into a giant scientific database. Physics and astronomy remain his favorite subjects, but he touches on all types of science in his comedy.

Malow’s foray into stand-up was not premeditated. “It’s certainly not a career I planned,” he says. “My friends thought I was pretty funny, but I was never labeled the class clown in school or anything like that.”

For more information

• Go to our podcast page to learn more about Brian Malow in a podcast in which he further discusses what it’s like telling jokes to scientists and details some of his recent efforts to improve science awareness and engender enthusiasm.

• You can visit Malow’s Web site at http://www.sciencecomedian.com

While living in Austin, Texas, he was encouraged to participate in a “funniest person in Austin” contest. Although he didn’t win, the positive feedback he received convinced him to try comedy.

Over the years, as Malow progressed from working the local comedy-club circuit to becoming a nationally known comedian, he began incorporating more science into his routine. “It proceeded through a natural evolution,” he says. “I had all this scientific information in my head, and, as I worked out some comedic material, some weird little fact would pop out that would fit in so well with the joke.”

Even so, Malow never really considered himself a “science comedian” until recently, after he started doing more shows for scientifically savvy audiences. While he tries to keep most of his science content at a level anyone can understand, he found occasional jokes based on obscure scientific references just didn’t work for a general audience. However, those same jokes would get big laughs from scientists, giving him a new outlet for his less traditional material.

A nice example is his one-liner: “I’m so spontaneous, I have a negative delta G.” Malow notes that joke would pass over the head of most people, but it’s a riot among chemists.

Malow really enjoys performing in front of scientific audiences, whether at universities, museums or companies like Apple or Dell. “Nothing is more fun than making scientists laugh. I feel that, if I can bring some levity into their science world, using their science terms, then I’ve done a great job.”

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How about a follow-up with some of his jokes?



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