By Tommy Tobin
What happens when a professor, three comedians, and a host walk into a bar? The answer is Oberon Theater’s monthly romp through a particular field of study, complete with laughs and lots of learning. Each instalment of “You’re the Expert” centers on a new expert, who along with three local comics and the host guides you through the halls of academe. At a recent performance, the expert was Rick Weissbourd. He introduced the crowd to the field of adolescent moral development. Professor Weissbourd is the Director of the Human Development and Psychology Program at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, and a lecturer at the Kennedy School.
Billed as a cross between NPR’s beloved “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” and “Inside the Actors’ Studio” for scientists, the Oberon’s show attempts to make academic subjects more accessible to the public. The comedians play games with the expert to see how a layperson might interpret some of the jargon or acronyms that professors are so prone to use. For example, Prof. Weissbourd judged how close the comics came to interpreting terms like “parental isolation” or “SEL.” Prof. Weissbourd even acted out a scene with an improv comedian about adolescent love. Emotions – and hilarity – ran high during Prof. Weissbourd’s standout performance.
After each 90-minute show, host Chris Duffy emcees an after-show with some top local comedians to perform some stand-up. Tickets to the follow-on performance are only $5 with paid admission to “You’re the Expert”, making the entertainment well worth the price for these sets. Because the audience at the after-show usually amounts to about 15 people, this quite an intimate performance. Most of the comedians were great, with stories ranging from meeting Harrison Ford on an elevator while telling dirty jokes to hosting exotic-pet podcasts. Although one or two of the half dozen acts missed the mark, the $5 ticket and some of the big laughs in the other acts made the aftershow a very enjoyable experience.
“You’re the Expert” takes place at the Oberon Theatre on Arrow Street adjacent to Harvard Yard and just a short 5-minute walk from Harvard Square or Holyoke Gate. If you can’t make it, every instalment of the show is also taped as a podcast. Tickets to the aftershow are $5 extra and may be purchased on site after the taping. Future performances and other information may be found at http://americanrepertorytheater.org/events/show/youre-expert. Past podcasts can be found at: theexpertshow.com/
3.5 stars out of 5.
Oberon Theatre, 2 Arrow Street, Cambridge, MA 02138