After completing his undergraduate biology degree at the University of California, San Diego, Tim Lee worked at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography for a while before he realized he needed a doctorate to do the interesting work. But by the time he finished his Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis, he had realized he hated academia.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, Brian Malow, who calls himself “earth’s premier science comedian,” and Norm Goldblatt, a physicist who performs standup as a side gig, have been telling science jokes for years.
“It’s not as limiting as it sounds,” Mr. Malow said. “Science is in everything.”
Even so, Mr. Malow finds he sometimes needs to add footnotes. One joke he tells is, “I used to be an astronomer, but then I got stuck on the day shift.”
“When I have a savvier audience,” Mr. Malow said, “I have to point out that joke could be offensive to solar or radio astronomers,” who do work during the day. And since many telescopes now can be operated remotely, even astronomers working with optical telescopes now do much of their work during the day shift.
“That joke is kind of weird that way,” Mr. Malow said. “We have that traditional image of an astronomer. Astronomers should work at night, theoretically. It’s fun to say that.”
Mr. Malow said that he expected the science comedy field to grow. “That won’t be a niche at all,” he said. “That’ll be too broad. It’ll be, ‘I just do humor about the spleen.’ ”