SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara Zoo shows that science and research can sometimes be a laughing matter.
A cleverly crafted stage show called Improvology creates the blend that leaves the audience learning and laughing at the same time.
Marketing Director Dean Noble is the host who coaxes stories from one or two researchers on a stage. From there he pauses, brings up comedians and an on-the-spot skit is created. It often involves sound effects, voice manipulation, singing or body gyrations.
"We're the only zoo on the planet that does anything like this," said Noble.
The show takes place only a few times a year. The next show is Thursday June 15 at 7:30 p.m.
The comedy stars come in from the Los Angeles area and have seen air time on national TV shows and improv stages in Hollywood. The team includes actors Michael McShane, Stephen Kearin, Brian Lohmann, and Kelly Holden-Bashar along with a musical team of Konrad Kono on keyboards with Dr. Michael Schindlinger on bass.
"These are some of the best improvisational comedians," Noble said. Afterwards, "people say 'I haven't laughed that hard in a long time!'"
It's not uncommon for a story line to veer off into a Shakespeare version of the research, or a journey led by Nancy Drew. The actors are not told of the general topic until the night of the show.
The performances at times includes guests from the audience helping out with suggestions or even a brief role on the stage.
The show runs about 90 minutes and is geared to all ages above about fourth grade.
For more information and tickets contact the Santa Barbara Zoo https://www.sbzoo.org/