Meta StuffPhilosophyPop CultureScience

The Science of Laughter

I love comedy, and I love science. And I love it when those two things are put together.

Here’s a selection of shows where they do just that:


1) It Is Rocket Science

Created by Helen Keen, It Is Rocket Science is a series of short radio programmes about the history of space exploration and astronomy in general, as told by Helen, and The Voice of Space, a supercomputer she built (played by Peter Serafinowicz, who also voices every historical figure in the programmes).

All of the first series is currently uploaded to Youtube, and for the Brits, the second series is currently airing on the BBC iPlayer.


2) Look Around You

Made by Peter Serafinowicz (who you may remember from several seconds previously), Look Around You is series of shorts parodying with vicious accuracy the kind of educational science films that tend to be shown in schools.

Full of cheerful synthesiser music, bizarre experiments, and a clueless (but authorititive) narrator, you’ll get a kick out of this series if you’ve ever noticed just how badly adults often try to explain science to children.

Both series 1 and 2 are availiable on Youtube.


3) Red Dwarf

Some younger readers may not be aware of this cult British sitcom, created by Doug Grant and Rob Naylor, but it’s a cracker.

Dave Lister is the last human being in the universe, cryogenically frozen for smuggling cats, and unfrozen in deep space, 3,000,000 years in the future. His only companions are a senile computer, a neurotic android, a creature that evolved from Lister’s cat, and a hologram of his former bunkmate, resurrected to annoy him sane.

Red Dwarf may sound like just a wacky sitcom, but it’s actually more of a claustrophobic character study, that uses the sci-fi setting to explore fundamental philosophical questions about time travel, skepticism, and the nature of loneliness.

Also board games.

This one’s a little bit harder to get hold of, but the entire series is availiable on DVD for cheap. They’re also scattered about here and there on Youtube, here’s the first one.


4) The Infinite Monkey Cage

Presented by stand-up Robin Ince, and physicist Brian Cox (whose tremblingly beautiful face you might remember from the series Wonders Of The Universe), The Infinite Moneky Cage is a radio discussion show that tackles almost any scientific subject you can think of, from why people enjoy music, to what the actual molecular logistics of Santa Claus would be.

Recent episodes are availaible on the BBC iPlayer (which even non-Brits can listen to), and older episodes are availiable to buy, or listen to in podcast form.


Are there any I’ve missed? Like the stuff I’ve mentioned?

Recommend more in the comments!

Previous post

An Ex-Christian Testimonial (Making Fun of Ex-Gay Conversion)

Next post

Human Rights, Health Care, and Skepticism



Alex Hoyle is a blogger, student, transvestite, and occasional stand-up comedian from Bristol, England. He can be found on Twitter as @alexdhoyle.


  1. June 2, 2012 at 12:02 pm —

    Winning description of Brian Cox’s face. I will probably steal it.
    This isn’t quite a series, but it does take down woo so very humorously:
    That Mitchell and Webb Look: Homeopathic A&E

  2. June 2, 2012 at 5:06 pm —

    Look Around You! I love that show! I’ve never laughed so hard at someone bleeding from the ears.

Leave a reply