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Communicating through humour: A project of stand-up comedy about science

Authors: Bruno Pinto, David Marçal, Sofia Vaz

Ref.: Public Understanding of Science 0(0), 1-18 (2013)

Abstract: A study of a project on science stand-up comedy developed in Portugal between 2009 and 2013 is presented, in which thirteen scientists, coordinated by a science communicator and a professional actor, created and presented comedy acts. Eleven of these scientists were asked about their motivations to participate, the process of performance development and the perceived value of the project. Personal motivations were highly important, but professional reasons were also mentioned. Working in a group with the guidance of coordinators, testing and re-writing the texts and gradually gaining confidence on stage were considered fundamental in the development of the shows. Additionally, a questionnaire revealed that the audience, most of whom were young adults, and held a higher education degree, were satisfied with the show. Overall, both participating scientists and audience members considered that stand-up comedy has potential for science communication.