Nerd Comedy: Comedy of Science


Photo by Tomiris Gumar

The audience sits in their seats, the lights go out, the show starts and Lee welcomes the audience and starts the standup. The stand up is hosted in a theater. The attendees and participants spoke of this building as very mystical and abandoned feeling.

Nerd Comedy is an intelligent comedy standup, located in the Harding Community Center Theater on 3096 Harding Street. Tim Lee is the chief host of the show, pre-scientist, and now comedian. He starts off the show with humor and a science-focused PowerPoint presentation and ends with a scientific and audience interacted olympiad. 

Lee was pulled to nature during childhood, which drew him to study biology. After getting his Ph.D., he realized the paperwork burdened him and that he wanted to change the direction of his career. 

“I loved joking around with my friends, that’s why I got interested in comedy,” Lee stated.

He was inspired to transition from a biologist in a white lab coat burdened by research papers to a microphone-holding comedian. 

He started his career in comedy in San Francisco, where stand-up comedy was prevalent. Lee faced the challenge of writing his own stand-ups, to him it was the hardest part of starting his career. However, with years of experience and comedic tours, he improved his skills and now can improvise quite good punch lines that will not leave a single person indifferent. Currently, Lee works in Carlsbad further developing his standup.

Lee’s comedy is based on his personal experience, knowledge of science, and interactions with the audience. Throughout the show, you could become a target of punch lines and even participate in the olympiad and get a trophy.

“The show incorporates a fun amount of science that made everyone at the show laugh,” sophomore Petyr Dimmick, who attended Lee’s show, said.

Two couples from the audience compete in the science olympiad at the end of the standup. The other audiences are the juries and scorekeepers. The active role of the crowd makes the show unique in its own way.
(Photo by Tomiris Gumar)

Lee’s connection between science and comedy came from his father. Lee’s father introduced him to “the funny side of science.” He used funny analogies to explain the basics of science to his son. 

Despite the fact that the doctor himself is performing on the stage, Lee’s comedy is down to earth. As Dimmick said, the standup was entertaining no matter what type of humor you have. The standup doesn’t feel like an academic seminar. Lee uses humor to reveal the comedy behind the science. Even non-scientists will be lured into the visual presentation of funny scientific concepts. 

Lee implemented something serious and strictly structured such as science into the sphere of sarcasm and jokes. The connection between science and comedy might be a bit questionable to the audience. To address this, Lee used an example of Thomas Edison’s biography to describe what science and comedy have in common. 

“Edison was curious enough to ask questions, creative enough to generate hypotheses, and logical enough to test them,” Lee said. “In comedy, you have to be curious enough to ask good questions and be creative enough to create punch lines and logical enough to jump from your hypothesis to your conclusion in a funny way.” 

The couple on the left receiving their trophy of victory in the scientific olympiad against the couple on the right. The olympiad was pretty intensive and tricky.
(Photo by Tomiris Gumar)

Lee clarified that science is not all about being in a lab and generating calculation models in the computer.

The comedian believes that laughter makes life easier, that’s the main motivation of hosting his standup. For Lee, comedy was the exit from his burdening life of constant paperwork.

He welcomes everyone older than the age of 12 to come and have some good time and experience something unique. 

Lee invites all sorts of comics to host his show. Each Friday the audience gets an absolutely different and extraordinary dose of humor. 

The attendees are not required to provide a negative COVID-19 test or vaccination proof. Wearing a mask, keeping a distance, and having a good time is all that is required to have fun at the stand up show. 

To learn more about Lee, check out his website.