Comedy and Communication
On Monday 8 March 2021, we celebrated International Women’s Day with an hour long live-streamed panel discussion titled Comedy and Communication, looking at how we can all use comedy techniques in our STEM communications and teaching.
The discussion was hosted by comedy and science writer Dr Helen Pilcher, who spoke to maths teacher Susan Okereke, comedian and science comedy producer Kyle Marian Viterbo, and biologist, YouTuber and science communicator Dr Sally Le Page.
About our speakers
Dr Helen Pilcher
Dr Helen Pilcher is a tea-drinking, biscuit-nibbling science and comedy writer with a PhD in cell biology. A former reporter for Nature, she now specialises in quirky, off-the-wall science and writes for the likes of Science Focus, BBC Wildlife and The Guardian. Unusually for a self-proclaimed geek, Helen was a stand-up comedian before the arrival of children meant she couldn’t physically stay awake after 9pm.
Her first book, Bring Back the King: The New Science of De-extinction, was described by comedian Sara Pasco as “science at its funniest”. Her most recent book, Life Changing: How Humans are Altering Life on Earth features strategic moos, golden gnus and spider goats.
Kyle Marian Viterbo
Kyle Marian Viterbo is a comedian, producer, science communications consultant and former physical anthropologist. She produces and hosts socially-mindful, inclusive & accessible comedy shows. Since 2014, she has been training UK and US academics to translate their work into comedy, storytelling and live experiences.
Kyle currently works as an engagement producer at Science Friday, a science news media organisation nationally-syndicated across US public radio. She created The Symposium: Academic StandUp, a show and workshop series that uses sharp, socially-mindful comedy to challenge academic norms and champion inclusive science communication, and has previously worked with Guerilla Science, Buzzfeed, and others.
At the beginning of the pandemic, she co-created, Asians Strike Back: A Coronavirus Comedy & Science Show, which tackled anti-Asian racism and sought to debunk misconceptions about the novel coronavirus before it arrived in the US. The show was featured in the news at NowThis, South China Morning Post and Bedford & Bowery.
Susan Okereke is a maths educator who passionately believes that numeracy (the ability to use maths in a real life context) is an essential basic skill that everyone should be confident at, like reading and writing. She challenges negative views of maths by creating and delivering maths content in a way that is accessible, memorable and confidence building. She believes Maths is everywhere & for everyone!
While teaching maths in a London secondary school, she also co-hosts the Maths Appeal Podcast with Bobby Seagull, and often sets the puzzle for Today for BBC Radio 4.
Dr Sally Le Page
Sally Le Page is a biologist, YouTuber and science communicator and her personal mission is to bring science further into pop culture so that people enjoy and appreciate it in the same way they enjoy music, sport or literature. She makes videos about science and biology on her YouTube channel, Shed Science, and has worked closely with companies such as General Electric and Discovery to share her passion for science to an audience of millions. Her PhD was on fruit flies and how family ties affect how they behave towards one another.