First things first, we’d better define a skeptic. Skepticism is a school of rational thought which prefers critical thinking and evidence over believing in stuff.
Given Doug Stanhope’s quote “Once you start spotting some bullshit, then you start spotting it all”, it’s no surprise that comedians – famed for their observations – often end up on the skeptic end of the spectrum.
Why not sceptic? Sounds more like a tank full of poo.
Your classic skeptic is probably an atheist with a love for nerdy things, science, evidence and either laughing or despairing at the ability of people to believe in stupid things.
You’ll see examples of skepticism in comedy in general, like this awesome sketch by Mitchell and Webb on homeopathy:
We’ve already shared with you Kate Smurthwaite’s views on atheism, but they’re worth another look:
Kate’s point being that peer-reviewed evidence matters to her more than centuries-old beliefs. Kate has appeared in a number of skeptic contexts, including the InKredulous podcast from Merseyside Skeptics Society.
Coming in from the science-porn angle is Robin Ince. Robin has performed with Professor Brian Cox as part of the Infinite Monkey Cage shows. He’s also appeared at skeptic conferences, such as QEDcon and even has his own page on the Committee For Skeptical Inquiry website.
His angle is that science is more amazing than the spiritual magical thinking others subscribe to:
When we described Mitch Benn’s most recent touring show Don’t Believe a Word, we put him in the skeptical camp too.
Mitch has also appeared at QEDcon. His views are rationalist at heart. His pro-vaccination song is a good example of the sort of thing that skeptics also campaign for.
Can you believe there are people out there trying to stop kids from being vaccinated!?
There’s a strange cross-over between the skeptics and the comedy world. They can both be found in the same function rooms above pubs!
Skeptics in the Pub is a network of organisations who run talks in pubs for people of a skeptical persuasion. Some comedians perform at these events, some comedians are involved.
Iszi Lawrence has been involved in the running of Oxford Skeptics in the Pub and shows up all over the Skeptic world, including providing a rather Radio 4 voiceover cue to the Skeptics Guide To The Universe podcast.
Here she is at the British Humanist Association talking about love:
While it’s great that a lot of comedians draw inspiration from mundane, unimportant or abstract things, I find it inspiring to see comedians taking on serious subjects and using comedy to bring them into focus.