The cosmos conspire to remind me that I should tell you guys about my favorite TV science nerds. I'm not going to waffle on too long, as I've got nine other windows open with stuff I ought to be doing, but today's YouTube link goes to a show called Stargazing Live: Back To Earth. It is a talk show about astronomy and astrophysics, hosted by an Irish stand-up comedian who read physics at uni and still plays enough video games to complain about the crouch button in FPSes and the song unlock paths in music games, and a Mancunian currently working with the LHC who is only the second person I know of to have both a PhD in physics and a musical credit on Top 10 pop album.

Dara O'Briain is a frequent-flyer on panel shows, and in his solo stand-up routine is infamous for picking on the front row right at the beginning of the show, and then returning to pick on them -- with ridiculously detailed references to the first round -- two hours later at the end. If you've only seen him on QI, fair warning: He sounds like he preps for his stage shows by slamming several espressos with an Adderall chaser. He's completely coherent and able to stay on topic, so I think he's more metaphorically high than actually so, but if you are personally seriously ADHD or have friends who are, you'll find the results of this particular mood hilarious. He likes to practice what Mark Crislip refers to as "evidence-based ridicule" when confronted with complete retardedness, like the hospital-fearing midwives who tried to tell him and his wife that natural childbirth was better and they shouldn't opt for an episiotomy because "tears heal better than cuts" (note: Mrs. O'Briain is actually Doctor Mrs. O'Briain, and works as a surgeon), homeopathic medicine (when someone tried to tell him that at least you couldn't overdose on real homeopathic remedies, he astutely pointed out that you can fucking drown), or science-fiction movies whose screenwriters have committed some sort of spectacularly epic Research Failure.

O'Briain is on Twitter, and in between sharing geeky things and making observations on the idiocy of the outside world, can often be found playing Twit-pong with his co-host, Brian Cox. Cox's Twitter feed is highly useful for figuring out when he's going to be on TV next (hint: he is constantly on TV, no really) and also just amusing in general. He tends to show up after he's had a few, right at that point where you're still perfectly coherent but liable to say anything that pops into your head. About half the time he's pissed in the British sense, watching $random_documentary on television and experiencing warm tipsy fuzzies over the miracle of science. The other half, he's pissed in the American sense, because some crank has just managed to get a few column inches in The Daily Mail again ("STUDY LINKS UNIVERSE TO ECONOMIC DOWNTURN, CANCER") and he's going to have to spend the next three months answering daft questions about nonexistent planets and poorly-translated bits of Nostradamus.

Comments

  1. Delurking to demand if you've read Tickling The English, O'Brien's record of taking a standup tour round England and the peculiarities of being Irish in England.

    Also, his RTE panel show, The Panel, which is a thing of beauty and a joy forever, especially the night they went on a 15 minute diversion about 80s children's TV puppet Bosco, resemblance to Andrew Maxwell thereof.

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