What Neil deGrasse Tyson has learned from standup comedians

Jay Welch writes in: "I was reading an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson on Vox where he talks about handheld vs lavalier mics, and I thought it was an interesting snippet that might fit well on Sandpaper Suit. Thought I'd pass it along. Interesting way to think about the mic that we don't hear often."

Todd VanDerWerff: What have you learned in working with stand-up comedians that you've taken into your own speaking gigs?

Neil deGrasse Tyson: [...] [W]hat I get from comedians are things like timing and how we know that one word is funnier than another word. It could be simple things like, does the word rhyme with some other word you just used or little things that I see them invoke in their craft.

At a minimum, for example, the host might say, "Would you like a lavalier mic?" [a small microphone usually clipped to one's clothing] and I say, "No, I want a handheld mic." Have you ever offered a lavalier mic to a stand-up comedian? No, they want the handheld mic. The handheld mic is a prop, it's a tool, it's a device. Your imagination can make it something in the moment.

Related: I think it's weird that late night spots are often the first time a comic tells jokes without holding a mic.


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