The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

November 26, 2013

‘MythBusters’ brings nerd cool to live audiences

BOISE, Idaho — If you were one of those inquisitive children who grew up salvaging magnets from broken electronics and emptying flash powder from unraveled ladyfingers to create a kid-sized dynamite stick, it’s impossible not to feel jealous of Adam Savage.

Along with “MythBusters” co-host Jamie Hyneman, the 46-year-old has spent much of his adult life building cool stuff, blowing up cooler stuff, and answering all the random questions that intrigue pint- and full-size mad scientists. Now in its 11th season, “Myth-Busters” is the most recognizable Discovery Channel show.

Things just keep getting better. On the “MythBusters: Behind the Myths Tour,” the duo gets to share its passion for science, engineering and problem solving in person with its happily nerdy fans.

On TV, “MythBusters” uses irreverence and humor to almost “trick” people into learning. As the men gleefully explode toilets, construct tree cannons and launch lawn chairs skyward with balloons, they act as avatars for the audience, experientially conveying what things feels like.

That doesn’t work as well on a stage, Savage says: “Because when you’re up on stage in front of a bunch of people, like it or not, you are the ringleader.” So on the “Behind the Myths” live show, which was developed in 2011, Savage and Hyneman utilize their audience.

“It is a key difference between what we do on ’MythBusters’ itself and what we do on the stage,” he says. “We realized if we started bringing people up on stage, every audience member we bring up, whether they’re 7 or 70, becomes the audience’s avatar for what’s happening.

“One of the very first things we do in these shows is we pit a small child against a really big dude. And we work it so the kid wins - in several different ways. And it’s really, really fun to watch. It’s not only funny, but in the end, you’ve actually learned a few things about mechanical advantages - and cheating.”

Savage’s mischievous attitude is key to the chemistry of “MythBusters.” Next to Hyneman’s more reserved personality, he is the overenthusiastic goof in all of us. Part of that characteristic comes from his upbringing; Savage dabbled in acting as a kid: “I actually played Mr. Whipple’s stock boy in a Charmin commercial,” he says.

But most of Savage’s exuberance is fueled by his joy for creating. Before “MythBusters,” he was a graphic designer, theater carpenter, set designer, painter, model maker - “you name it,” he says. “Toy prototyper. All these different professions that involved actually physically making and designing things.”

The zany, excited guy on TV? That’s basically Savage in real life.

“But if there was one part of ’MythBusters’ that I wouldn’t trade for any other, it’s how much we’ve actually learned. Because I’d spent 10 years in the special-effects industry as a model maker and an effects technician. I thought that I came to this show in 2002 with REAL skills. And I’ll tell you, I didn’t know s-t back then. What I have learned in the past 10 years dwarfs everything I learned leading up to it.”

Still, even the experts keep learning. If you’re one of those wannabe “Myth-Busters” who has walked the line between safety and stupidity, don’t feel too bad. Two years ago, the “MythBusters” crew accidentally overshot a cannonball — big time. It put a hole through the bedroom wall of a sleeping couple’s home, bounced through traffic and hit another house before breaking a parked minivan’s window.

“That was very scary,” Savage admits. “I’m really, really grateful that no one was hurt.”

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Rare summer relief for gasoline prices

    The gasoline price roller coaster is running a strange course this summer.

    August 2, 2014

  • Poll finds public ready to close book on 2 wars

    Three in four Americans think history will judge the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as failures, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that shows that about the same percentage think it was right to pull forces from the two countries.

    August 2, 2014

  • Rain of asteroids melted early Earth, boiled its oceans

    When you look up at the moon’s pockmarked face, you’re actually staring at Earth’s early history. The rain of asteroids that pummeled the lunar surface hit our planet too - it’s just that erosion and plate tectonics blotted out the evidence. In fact, no rocks anywhere in the world survived to tell the story of the first 500 million years of Earth’s 4.5 billion-year existence, a tumultuous period of frequent impacts known darkly as the Hadean.

    August 1, 2014

  • As U.S. job market strengthens, many don’t feel it

    For millions of workers, happy days aren’t quite here again.

    August 1, 2014

  • Energy boom brings new focus on rail, pipeline safety

    The sharp increase in U.S. oil production and its promise of energy independence is coming with a disastrous byproduct: spills that threaten lives, communities and the environment.

    August 1, 2014

  • Deep-sea octopus goes without food for 4.5 years while watching eggs

    Talk about extreme parenting: Scientists have found a deep-sea octopus mama that faithfully guards the same clutch of eggs for an incredible 4 1/2 years — a record.

    July 31, 2014

  • Study finds 35 percent in U.S. facing debt collectors

    More than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies, according to a study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute.

    July 30, 2014

  • U.S. blasts Israel for Kerry criticism

    The Obama administration pushed back strongly Monday at a torrent of Israeli criticism over Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest bid to secure a cease-fire with Hamas, accusing some in Israel of launching a “misinformation campaign” against the top American diplomat.

    July 29, 2014

  • Outlook on Medicare finances improves

    Medicare’s finances are looking brighter, the government said Monday. The program’s giant hospital trust fund won’t be exhausted until 2030 — four years later than last year’s estimate.

    July 29, 2014

  • Plan to simplify 2015 health renewals may backfire

    If you have health insurance on your job, you probably don’t give much thought to each year’s renewal. But make the same assumption in one of the new health law plans, and it could lead to costly surprises.

    July 28, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video