Rational Comedy for an Irrational Planet May 28, 2009

Rational Comedy for an Irrational Planet

Every so often, I go to this show in Chicago where the actors perform 30 plays in 60 minutes. The plays can be funny, sad, political, symbolic, etc. Each of them has a cryptic title that may or may not tell you what the play is about…

Last year, one of the plays I saw was titled “Helium.” When they performed it, the stage became dark. When the lights came up, one man stood in the center of the stage holding a very large beach ball. He didn’t move. The lights went out again for a brief moment. When they came back up, two other actors were standing on either side of him, holding smaller beach balls.

Then, the two actors with the smaller beach balls began to run around the center guy. After about 10 seconds of this, the play ended.

I understood it. I thought it was funny, especially given the serious nature of some of the other plays. Apparently, only three other people in the audience felt the same way. The rest of the crowd just looked puzzled and lost.

That gives you a good idea of what sort of humor gets me going… and probably why I’m single.

So it’s no surprise that I loved Brian Malow when I saw a clip of him on YouTube last year — Malow is a Science Comedian. He’s like a one man version of The Big Bang Theory.

The Agnostic and Atheist Student Association at UC Davis is bringing Malow to their campus and the event is open to the public!


Like the poster says, the event is on Monday, June 1st at 8:30 p.m. at the Davis Varsity Theatre. Tickets are $6 in advance (info for that here) and $8 at the door.

Go support the group and meet other like-minded science geeks 🙂

If I were living within 200 miles of Davis, I would totally go to this.

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  • Nick

    Hemant, could you explain to me the meaning? I’m assuming that having the two smaller balls ‘magically’ appear was a reference to God?

  • chatterbox

    Nick, I think the smaller beach balls are electrons rotating around the nucleus of the helium atom (the big beach ball).

  • Polly

    He: 2 protons with (on average) 2 neutrons in the nucleus, represented by the beach ball + 2 electrons orbiting represented by the (completely out of proportion) “smaller” beach balls = 1 uncharged atom of noble gas.

    I love “The Big Bang Theory.” I needed more science in my entertainment diet. And it’s set in my hometown!

  • Helium… yeah, more in the audience would have gotten it if the single big ball were replaced with 4 big balls stuck together (2 one color and 2 another color).

    For single science nerds…
    Sometimes I which there was a “dumb” pill that we could take that temporarily lowers our IQ 20 points so that we can be more “normal” in social situations. After about an hour, the pill wears off. That would be convenient in lots of situations where we don’t have access to alcohol or don’t want alcohol’s side-effects.

  • Nick

    Oh, duh, of course. Wasn’t thinking that way…jeez, and I’m a big science person. Thanks

  • Epistaxis

    The poster is confusing: how do you pronounce his name? “Malthw?”

  • Thanks for the post! Wish you could make it to the show!

    Here’s my take on Helium

    And a bit on Evolution.


  • RPJ

    I got that the beach balls could be seen as a model of the helium atom, but fail to see how that could be humorous or poignant. It seems more like a “meh” demonstration in 8th grade science by a teacher who doesn’t have the resources to produce a more interesting example.

    Is that really the “joke”, or was there some other meaning?

  • Is that really the “joke”, or was there some other meaning?

    You have to see the show to understand this skit’s place. By itself, it’s not funny. When mixed in with very serious monologues and political satire, this was completely random (and welcome).

  • I don’t get this whole idea that you can either be smart/geeky, or you can be social, but not both. They’re not mutually exclusive, people. But if you’re smart, and you think that entitles you to act like a condescending prick (not that I’m accusing anyone of this), then maybe you will find it hard to interact socially.

  • Brian Mallow came to Sacramento’s Darwin Day this year. He was hilarious!

  • Luke

    Hey Hemant-
    I run tech for Too Much Light and was happy to see you at the show recently. Didn’t get the chance to say hello, unfortunately. “Helium” is one of my favorite science plays.

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