Decoding the 'Science of Stupid'
Nat Geo series with Seth Herzog explains why dimwit stunts frequently go wrong.
Tue, Jun 10, 2014 at 03:40 PM
The new show "Science of Stupid" will showcase how physics plays a role in our failures, whether it's riding a unicycle or bouncing on a pogo stick. (Photo: Nat Geo)
Because bravado often trumps common sense, there's no shortage of viral videos documenting the epic failures of human crash-test dummies who provide an endless amount of wince-worthy moments and fodder for TV shows like Comedy Central's "Tosh.0," MTV's "Ridiculousness" and VH1's "Fails." The new National Geographic series "Science of Stupid" puts a new twist on the genre, playing a clip and explaining what went wrong and why.
Premiering on June 13, with back-to-back half hour segments, the 14-episode series is hosted by actor and stand-up comedian Seth Herzog, who recently co-hosted the channel's interactive scientific trivia show "Duck Quacks Don't Echo" and is the resident comedian on the "Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon." He offers a taste of what to expect.
MNN: How did you become involved in "Science of Stupid?" Was it because of "Duck Quacks Don't Echo?"
Seth Herzog: I was asked if I wanted to host it after we finished shooting with "Duck Quacks." And I was thrilled to jump on board. Some of these videos are hilarious, and I couldn't wait to start talking about them. Even though I was the only host and there was no live audience like "Duck Quacks," I was still excited about sinking my teeth into this project. Not only do I get to give plenty of well-timed blank stares at the camera, but I got to be bloody from karate, I got to fake fly, I got to dance quite a bit, and we show you interesting science that might save your ass one day.
Ever try a stupid stunt (even as a kid)?
Oh yeah, as a kid, as a teen, as a young adult, and to some degree ... last week. I've tried plenty of stupid stunts. I'd build all sorts of ramps for my bicycle (one that isn't supposed to jump), and tried to build a smoke bomb once — it barely steamed. When I was younger I'd love jumping from heights that were just out of the norm and climbing buildings that shouldn't be climbed, and to this day, I still try and back flip off of almost anything I can.
You did some not particularly dangerous stunts on "Duck Quacks." What were the most memorable/fun ones?
It became quite clear a couple of episodes in that I was going to be the foil for all wacky/physical experiments, and I was fine with it! On the first day, I climbed the wall with vacuum packs dressed as a spider, which was in the last episode, and it was physically the hardest thing I've ever done. Plus I enjoyed dancing on "pudding," and racing a shrimp. All of it was a blast.
What are some of your favorite segments on this show?
On "Science of Stupid," there's a section of would-be karate "black belts" who can't break anything, no matter how hard they try. It never ceases to crack me up, and my throws to them are the funniest part of the series. Plus, I love parkour guys and the animals that miscalculate their jumps. They are adorably hilarious.
Do you write your script, or ad-lib?
Well, there was a script written when the show was bought from a British production [referring to the U.K version of "Science of Stupid," which is hosted by Richard Hammond]. So the production team and I re-wrote a lot of it, before and during the shooting. We would shoot a few different versions of almost every throw and return from every video, so there were tons of options. And I think they try to keep in the best ones, depending on what Nat Geo lets through.
Are you involved in choosing the clips?
Nah, the clips were already decided from the original production of the show that Nat Geo bought.
What are some of the most fascinating things viewers will learn?
Some of the things viewers will come away with is how airbags actually work, how planes and hang gliders work. Also there's a ton of stuff that is sort of instinctual for people who are active, but you've never heard anyone put it into words before. That's what I do.
Do you think it will inspire more stupid stunts despite the disclaimer?
There are a ton of disclaimers. I think three per show. But I think showing all the "experiments" people try to do — and fail — will no doubt inspire loads of guys to say, "I could make that work." And then ... we have season two!
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