Comedian Kasha Patel studies science of laughter

Comedian and science writer Kasha Patel. (Photo: Twitter with permission from Kasha Patel)

A science writer by day and stand-up comedian by night, Kasha Patel has pinpointed some shared constants in her seemingly disparate occupations. “In a way, they’re not that different,” says Patel, 27. “The premise of my joke is often like the lede or headline of my story – it has to be short, succinct and understandable.” As the founder and host of the live variety show “DC Science Comedy,” Patel has leaned on that approach over the past four years while building the intellectually stimulating series into a staple of the District of Columbia’s stand-up scene. Patel, who works as a digital storyteller at the NASA Earth Observatory, further combined her areas of expertise during a TEDx Talk in November, when she used metrics such as “premise time vs. laugh time” to break down the effectiveness of her jokes. Mapping out her ideal D.C. day, Patel stays on brand, working in a scientific study and a stand-up show:

I would wake up late, which means someone else would walk my dog, Marco – I call him Marco Barco – because it’s just so early in the morning to do that.

My favorite brunch place is The Coupe. I really like their French toast and their omelettes. And they always give animal crackers with their hot chocolate, which is great. If I were to pick a person to dine with there, it would be pretty sweet to have a conversation with John Mulaney about his days in D.C., because when you listen to his stand-up it sounds like he was reckless!


If I were more famous in this world, I would just have had a scientific study published. I recently analyzed a bunch of my jokes to see which ones are the most effective, so one of my goals is to make that into a more formalized study and publish it. So in my ideal world, I would be invited on “The Kojo Nnamdi Show” to get interviewed, and people would be calling in to ask me all of these questions that I would be able to answer and inspire people about science humor.

Then I would visit my dog, since I didn’t take him out on the morning walk because I was sleeping. We would go out on a nice walk to Great Falls – because I do really like just being out in nature – and bring a picnic. What I want to say here is really dumb: When I was young, I used to really like Quiznos. I don’t even know if it exists anymore? But Quiznos would be open and I’d get the chicken mesquite sandwich. And I’m a huge tennis fan, so I would invite Serena Williams on my hiking date.

In this ideal world, I’m really athletic – meaning I’m not tired after that however-many-hours hike. So I’d come back to D.C. and play ultimate frisbee. We would win, of course, and I would score a lot.

My favorite restaurant in D.C. is Copycat Co. on H Street, near where I live. Their baos are so good, and they always give you Goldfish – apparently I’m really into the comfort of free stuff. I also really like the skewers because they’re nice and spicy.

I would have a show that night at Warner Theatre – that’s where I saw John Mulaney when he came. I would be headlining my own science comedy show, and John Mulaney would be at the show with me. I feel like I’m saying his name a lot? Don’t make it sound like I’m obsessed with him . . .



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