Can you teach someone to be funny? Is it wrong to laugh at things that are challenging or upsetting? How can we use humour to help understand and make meaning from current university research?

These are the type of questions being asked, and answered, on You’re Up Next, a new podcast from Bright Club Ireland which will be released starting next Wednesday, 27 May 2020. The podcast series will be hosted by Dr. Jessamyn Fairfield, a lecturer in the School of Physics in NUI Galway and the founder and director of Bright Club Ireland. The series is produced by Shaun O’Boyle and Maurice Kelliher, and you can listen to a preview here:

The five episodes of You’re Up Next will talk about comedy, as well as new ideas of engaging the public with science, research, and academia. Creative approaches and problems are shared from international ‘guest ranters’ including: Dr Shane Bergin of UCD, a noted science education expert; stand-up comedian and former Bright Club coordinator Áine Gallagher; science event producer Hana Ayoob; engagement producer for Science Friday Kyle Marian Viterbo; and Bright Club UK founder Dr Steve Cross. These experts from Ireland, the UK, and the US will not only discuss science comedy, but also themes of equity, access, and who can call themselves a scientist.

You’re Up Next will be available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and on most podcast platforms.

Transcript of preview:

I think it’s really important that science and knowledge aren’t locked behind a wall or up in an ivory tower. I guess that’s why we wanted to make a Bright Club podcast, to talk about using comedy to communicate science, how it’s gone for Bright Club Ireland, which I’ve been running with a dedicated team for the last five years in Ireland, but also just to talk about: What does it mean to communicate science? What does it mean to do comedy? How do you listen to the audience? How do you learn from the audience, and ensure that you’re not just putting someone up on a pedestal, but in a bar instead of in a lecture theatre? And also, what can we learn from other people, some of whom have been involved in Bright Club and some of whom haven’t at all.

I’m also really interested in where science communication and public engagement are going, because I think there’s been so much development over the last ten years, and I hope that the field and the broader community continue to evolve and change and get better and better. I really think that recent events have shown the importance of science communication and the importance of science to improving society, as a tool for giving people better lives and improving quality of life, but also a way to give understanding and even meaning to life.

I think that this is also something that comedy is really valuable for. People might think of science and comedy as two opposites, or two sides; that you have to choose science or you have to choose art, you have to choose science or you have to choose creativity. But I think that comedy and other performing arts give us a way to understand the world around us and each other better, and they give us a way to make meaning out of the things that happen and that are happening. So they’re two really important things to me – science and comedy – and I think they’re two really important lenses that are complementary for understanding the world better. I’m really excited for the podcast, to see it come together and to be able to share some of what we’ve done with Bright Club, but also be able to hear from some people who are doing their own incredible projects and get a little taste of what might be next for the world, in terms of science and public engagement and also in terms of comedy.