Alan Alda, Podcaster

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Manage episode 332514469 series 94072
By WNYC Studios and The New Yorker, WNYC Studios, and The New Yorker. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Alan Alda spent his early years in the burlesque theatres where his father, the actor Robert Alda, would perform. Those early years opened his eyes in more ways than one: “I was very aware of the naked women,” he told The New Yorker’s Michael Schulman, “but I was also aware of the comics.” Watching from the wings, Alda grew an appreciation for being funny, being creative, and being present. He put those skills to use for eleven years on “M*A*S*H” and in dozens of other performances on stage and screen—recently, as a divorce lawyer for Adam Driver’s character in “Marriage Story.” But it was only later in life that Alda realized his skills might be useful in another arena: science. Alda made it his crusade to help scientists communicate their ideas to a broad audience. “What occurred to me,” Alda told Schulman, “was that if we trained scientists starting from actually improvising, they would be able to relate to the audience the way they were relating to me.” He hosted a series of science programs and founded the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. He also started a podcast. On “Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda,” Alda interviews luminaries from the fields of science, politics, and entertainment, drawing on his training to make their specialist knowledge accessible to listeners. Interviewing, he thinks, isn’t unlike performing with a scene partner: “You have to relate to the other person,” says Alda. “You have to observe the other person. You have to be watching their face, their body and language” to determine what it is the guest “really means.” Plus, if you’re still looking for something for the kids to do this summer, have you considered Horse Camp? A comedy sketch by Emily Flake and Sarah Hutto.

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