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The funny science guy

Comedian Jono Zalay talks neuroscience, comedy and giving cocaine to rats


Lots of people who hold two titles at once, it’s nothing new. You can be a mother and a CEO, a teacher and a soccer coach, the list goes on and on. But how about a comedian scientist?

San Diego native Jono Zalay started performing standup comedy while studying neuroscience at Boston University. It’s been 10 years since he decided to pursue a comedy career, and it doesn’t seem to be bad call, as he has been featured as one of Comedy Central’s “Comics to Watch’” and is touring all around the U.S. performing his “scientifically accurate comedy.” He comes to Mac’s Bar Wednesday.

City Pulse talked with Zalay about his background and his comedic approach.

How would you describe your style?

I went to grad school for several years, and I started comedy around the same time. I was simultaneously pursuing science and comedy, and it sort of influenced how I made jokes, where it’s more from that analytical perspective. So it’s observational from a scientific perspective.

What made you decide to pursue comedy as a career?

I always looked at the world as sort of hilarious; I was drawn to the absurdity. When I found out there was an outlet for that, like doing stand-up and open mics, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, finally a way to pour out my silly thoughts!’ They were taking up so much space in my brain, and I wanted to get everyone in on the fun.

What did you originally want to do with your neuroscience degree?

I was studying drug abuse, actually, so what I was doing was giving cocaine to rats. (Laughs.) That’s the one thing I got paid to do, give cocaine to rats. It was a fun job.

How would you describe your show?

It’s very well informed. (Laughs.) I could cite my act the way I could a science paper; everything I say has a certain level of truth to it. I have your average dick jokes or whatever, it’s just that they come from a much more scientific perspective.

Is there anything else you think we should know?

I’ve got a great mustache. I worked hard on that.

Jono Zalay

With Nick Leydorf and Louis D. Michael

7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15


Mac’s Bar

2700 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing

(517) 484-6795, macsbar.com


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