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November 17, 2017

A Q&A with Adam Savage from 'Mythbusters'

His all-ages show 'Brain Candy Live' is coming to Philly this weekend

Adam Savage, widely known for his role as the former co-host of the Emmy-nominated Discovery series "MythBusters," is soon coming to Philly.

He, and YouTube star Michael Stevens, are bringing their show "Brain Candy Live" to the Academy of Music on Sunday, Nov. 19.

Ahead of the family-friendly performance, Savage chatted with PhillyVoice about curiosity, the coolest thing he's built and how "Mythbusters" and "Brain Candy Live" relate.

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Q. The official description says 'Brain Candy Live' is like 'a two-hour play date with Walt Disney, Willy Wonka and Albert Einstein.' Sounds awesome, but can you explain what the show is and what attendees can expect?

A. It's a two-hour celebration of the pleasure of learning new things, ultimately. We classify 'Brain Candy' as that feeling you get when you hear a fact that widens your world, that gives you a little more perspective, that makes you make that sound, 'Ah!'

So, in practical terms, it's as if your high school science teacher has a Las Vegas-sized budget.

We spend two hours teaching the audience how to deep dive into the physics of things like smoke, air and atmosphere. Honestly, by the time we're done, the audience understands some of that stuff on an almost molecular level.

Q. I heard there are ping pong balls involved somehow?

A. [Laughs] yeah, we use ping pong balls to great effect in several different segments, including in an explosion.

Q. Do you think 'Brain Candy Live' helps fill a void for fans who miss watching you on 'Mythbusters?'

A. Fans of 'Mythbusters' will definitely find that the DNA of the show is deeply baked into 'Brain Candy Live,' and yet, it's also an entirely new thing. That's what's really fun about doing it.

I loved doing 'Mythbusters' for 15 years. Now I'm doing other stuff but, of course, 'Mythbusters' is always going to be a part of what I do – that type of exploration, storytelling and fun.  

Q. So much of your work has been a mix of science, education and entertainment; what's the hardest part about being an educator and what makes it worthwhile?

A. Ultimately, educating is storytelling. Science is simply a method of telling stories about how the world works. It's the way in which we take the data that we have and put it in context that we understand – that is both the hardest part and it's also the most rewarding.

Q. Where do you think your sense of curiosity came from?

A. I was well-encouraged by my parents, who were curious and intellectual. 

You know, I think that curiosity is an innate human trait. Every generation of humans since we were in caves has sent its best and its brightest to the limits to find out what's going on. That's just part of being a human.

Q. I like to doodle when I brainstorm. Is there anything you do to help get into a creative mindset?

A. What a lovely question. No one has asked me that. Yeah, I walk around my office and I organize things. I doodle a tremendous amount. When I can't think of what to do, I clean something up. 

Q. What's the coolest thing you've built, that you can thing of right now?

A. Oh! Without a doubt, my kids [laughs].