Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dork Side of the Moon finds the funny in Monday's solar eclipse

Science is in, y'all

Posted by Jakob Lazzaro on Thu, Aug 17, 2017 at 4:47 PM

click to enlarge Kasha Patel works at NASA — and jokes about it. - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Kasha Patel works at NASA — and jokes about it.
If the world hasn’t ended after Monday’s apoc-eclipse, or if it has and you’d like to laugh instead of cry, head to the Charleston Music Hall for a science comedy show. Eclipse Comedy Night: Celebrating the Dork Side of the Moon is hosted by Charleston comedian and podcast creator Vince Fabra and features two comedians from Washington, D.C. — Robert Mac, winner of Comedy Central’s National Award, and Kasha Patel, a part-time stand-up comic and full-time science writer for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Patel says her three-year old science-themed variety show, a blend of science jokes, stories, and songs, served as the inspiration for Eclipse Comedy Night. However, there’s a twist — the two will only perform stand up.

“We'll joke about science as well as our backgrounds,” Patel sayas. “As you can guess, ‘science comedy’ is very rare in the United States. I have yet to find another regularly occurring science comedy show in the U.S. besides mine.”

After graduating from Wake Forest University with a chemistry degree, Patel attended Boston University for a masters in science journalism. That’s where she first tried her hand at comedy, but Patel says she didn’t start out as a science comedian.

“It’s easier, at least when you’re beginning, to write things that you know — which is your life,” Patel said. “As opposed to science, where it’s like I’m reading a study and thinking ‘How can I make a joke about this?’”

Patel credits her co-workers at NASA for her focus on science comedy.

“When I moved to Maryland for my job, people found I did stand-up comedy and they were like ‘Oh, do you do science jokes?’" says Patel. “I kept getting the question asked to me so much that I started feeling guilty. I was like ‘man, I really need to revisit this again and do these science jokes.’”

For the first show, Patel advertised to D.C.’s scientific community. It was a success, and the ball kept rolling from there.

“It was kind of a feedback loop,” Patel said. “I would write more science jokes, people would get excited, I would get excited about how excited they would get, so then I would keep writing more science jokes and do more shows.”

Although he has no scientific background, fellow headliner Robert Mac holds his own during the show. After meeting at a D.C. comedy show, Patel invited Mac to perform in hers. He accepted, and the pair hit it off.

“He was really excited,” Patel said. “When he did my show he wore a lab coat and everything.”

With the help of Mac’s agency, Eclipse Comedy Night marks Patel’s first science comedy show outside of D.C., and she’s drawing up plans for a national tour. Her main goal? Increasing interest in science.

“I just want to make science comedy a little more widespread,” Patel said. “To whet people’s appetite, so they’ll be more interested in science and they can go explore on their own and realize ‘Hey, science isn’t so scary. In fact, it’s very entertaining and funny.’”

The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets, which cost $25, are currently on sale online and at the Charleston Music Hall box office.

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