During his “meteoric” rise from little-known planetarium director to instantly (and internationally) recognized spokesman for the importance of science in our daily lives, Neil deGrasse Tyson has often used humor to convey his passionately plain-spoken message that a curiosity about our ever-awesome universe has a place in our popular culture — and that an education in science is something to be celebrated, not shied away from.
Having brought his enthusiasm for all things terrestrial and beyond to late night talk shows, kid-skewed specials and TV toons (inspiring friend/fan Seth MacFarlane to tailor the 21st century Cosmos miniseries to his communication skills), it was a natural progression for the New York City-born astrophysicist to explore the frontiers of that place where Laughs and Learning meet — creating StarTalk, a weekly podcast and spinoff series on the Nat Geo Channel whose live-on-stage incarnation comes to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre tonight.
Co-hosted with comedian and voice actor (Bob’s Burgers) Eugene Mirman, StarTalk Live! “bridges the intersection between pop culture and science with clarity, humor and passion, covering captivating subjects like space travel, human intelligence, sex, extra-terrestrial life, the Big Bang, the future of our Earth and the environment,” according to its press material.
Like its web- and cable-based components, the format puts a fun (but never fictional) spin on the latest news from the scientific community — a topic that even manages to trump the campaign-trail gossip every now and then, as with the recent confirmation of Einstein’s “gravitational waves” theory. It does so with the input of figures from the worlds of scientific research and show business, amassing a guest register that’s included everyone from real-life Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin to Starship Enterprise navigator George “Sulu” Takei, from Presidents Carter and Clinton to prestidigitators Penn and Teller.
Unspecified “special guests” are promised for tonight’s 7:30 p.m. program, with tickets ($39.50 – $59.50) still available right here.