When describing the type of reactions he endeavors to provoke in his new show Brain Candy Live!, Adam Savage turns to a saying first muttered by playwright David Mamet: “A standing ovation can be extorted from the audience. A gasp cannot.”
Savage and his Brain Candy co-star Michael Stevens are hoping to make Atlantic City audiences gasp when they come to Caesars Atlantic City’s Circus Maximus Theater 9 p.m. Friday, March 10. The odds are stacked in their favor, as a more entertaining team of questioners and cavillers has perhaps never been assembled. Savage is best known for his work on the massively successful Discovery Channel show “MythBusters.” Stevens is the mastermind behind the YouTube channel Vsauce, which has garnered millions of subscribers tackling such questions as “What color is a mirror” and “Why do we kiss?” Add in director Michael Webber, a talented magician, and you’ve got a solution — in the scientific sense of the word — bubbling over with creativity.
“We spent many days over the last year developing experiments on the phone and online. We traded stories back and forth about things we’re interested in,” Savage says of their process developing the show. “We slowly built a list that wound up being way too long. It was very organic, and we’re still modifying and tweaking things on the road.”
The partnership between Savage and Stevens is a match made in geek heaven, and came about partly because of the well-known distaste between Savage and his “MythBusters” costar Jamie Hyneman. Though respectful of each other’s work, with an onscreen chemistry that kept the show running for 14 years — Savage playing the goofy, energetic science nerd and Hyneman the gruff, grumpy straight man — it’s no secret that off-screen, the two MythBusters were tolerant of each other at best. As the two no longer wished to tour together, Brain Candy Live! was born.
The show is stacked with interactive demonstrations, fascinating machines and whimsical experiments, resulting in an experience that is described as a “two-hour play date with Walt Disney, Willy Wonka and Albert Einstein.” In helping build the show, Savage pulled on experience from his myth busting days; but Brain Candy, he says, is an entirely different beast.
“It’s rapidly different from what I did on ‘MythBusters,’” he explains. “You have and audience that you can listen to and respond to. It’s a grand conversation.”
His passion for that “grand conversation” is what has kept Savage tinkering and toying for years. It boils down to storytelling, he explains, not just experiments, electrolytes and explosions. Savage knows that the truly gasp-worthy moments are born of the fusion of science and art.
There is a somewhat antiquated belief that with age comes wisdom and eventual greatness. Whi…
“People think that science and art are at different ends of the bandwagon, but both are versions of storytelling,” he says with fervor. “Science is technical and art is emotion, but those are just the broad strokes. Both can cross over. Both are ways we figure out the world.
“Science isn’t, ‘Hey water boils at 180 degrees Celsius,’ because that’s incomplete. It boils at 180 degrees Celsius at sea level. When you unpack why it boils at that temperature when at sea level and why it doesn’t when it’s not — that’s a story. That’s when science becomes clear, and people begin to understand.”
5 of Adam Savage’s best science quotes:
• “I reject your reality and substitute my own.”
• “Failure is always an option.”
• “In the spirit of science, there really is no such thing as a ‘failed experiment.’ Any test that yields valid data is a valid test.”
• “It’s sort of a mental attitude about critical thinking and curiosity. It’s about mindset of looking at the world in a playful and curious and creative way.”
• “Remember kids, the only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down.”