NYC’s Radiolab, the free-form yet meticulously choreographed science podcast featuring Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, brings its new stage show, Apocalyptical, to Seattle this November. The show, as the title suggests, is about endings, from huge (the extinction of the dinosaurs) to small (two men facing death), which is an ironic choice for a couple of guys at the top of their game.
The podcast comes across as extremely spontaneous. How much of that is real and how much is artifice?
Robert: We’ll do it once, and then we realize we don’t know something. So we go and find the person who knows it, and then do it again, and do it again, and do it again. So you get a pastiche of layered conversations.
Give a little preview of one of the endings that you talk about in Apocalyptical.
Jad: I was reading a story I knew front to back, which was the extinction of the dinosaurs. But it was so much more violent and sudden than we had ever imagined. Robert: The theory proposed here is really radical. You think they got cold and sick, and then there were volcanoes, and then a million years later they disappeared. This is an argument that says it was—bang—bye.
What can the audience expect to get out of seeing a radio show live?
Jad: They can get the shock of seeing our physical presences and the inevitable disappointment that comes with suddenly matching the very untelegenic bodies to the voices. Robert: The program we do on the radio is pretty much aimed at your ear and the mind behind your ear. This is an eyeball one, where we get to experiment with things that you look at. It’s more athletic and sort of physical.
How is doing the show live different from recording it in the studio for you?
Robert: It’s a way to find out how good you are at storytelling when you’re talking to breathing people. You can hear the snores or feel it in the air. Jad: For me, when you actually go to another city and get onto a stage in front of real human beings, it’s like therapy. Robert: It does explain why he licks everybody. Jad: That’s just sexual.
This article appeared in the November 2013 issue of Seattle Met.