If you make someone laugh, you know they’re listening. And once they’re listening, they’re paying attention. And once they’re paying attention, you can make a connection, drive empathy, and generate understanding. Sadly, our world is one in which science needs allies. At Caveat, a new performance space on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, science’s unlikely, though remarkably effective, ally is comedy. For the past few weeks, I’ve been consumed with NaNoWriMo and the first draft of my second novel. Having surpassed 30,000 words in 17 days, a comedy show is what I needed tonight. Plus, this gave me a chance to check out a cool new event space, hear from Dustin Growick, a scientist I admire, talking about his love for dinosaurs, and learn something about science and art. A perfect combo.
The event, aptly named Dinosaurs vs. Paintings, pitted two teams against one another to talk about which field of study is most impressive. It’s a funny debate combo, and the host, Meg Pierson, was delightfully self-deprecating and unapologetically passionate in her love for a good battle between academics. Along the way, the audience learned about the latest anatomical discoveries in paleontology (feathers, colors, and teeth, oh my!), the insanely forward-thinking insight that Hieronymus Bosch wrapped around his Garden of Earthly Delights, the Gardner Museum heist, and the vast variety of flora and fauna that existed during the time of the dinosaurs (~165 million years of time if you want specifics.)
Every minute, I found myself saying to my friends, “Really? That’s true? I had no idea!” And that’s the point of Caveat. The world may feel like it’s on fire at this strange moment in our history, and it’s still full of amazing discoveries and insights. While we may be completely wrapped up in our own day-to-day lives and times, our existence as a species is just the blink of an eye as far as the Universe is concerned. This too shall pass, and our job is to make the most of it while we’re here. It’s a humbling insight, and that alone was worth the price of admission.
Thank you Caveat and all the performers for a wonderful evening. I’m sure I’ll be back, ready to laugh and learn. Check out their full event calendar for science, comedy, books, live podcast recordings, and more.