Today was indeed a treat. While rooting around for interesting new things to do the other day, I was delighted to find tickets still available for Jamie and Adam’s Behind the Myths Tour. These are the pseudo-scientist hosts of Discovery Channel’s hit show Mythbusters. If you’ve ever seen it, you realize that these are just a couple of boys with their toys, having a helluva good time, mainly blowing things up in the name of science. See, Adam explained that the subtle difference between them and what ‘real scientists’ do is that scientists write things down. He then went on to describe his dream job, which would be working in a testing lab for the likes of UL (or CSA), to help set safety ratings for all kinds of objects, by first determining their point of failure. I think he’s come pretty darned close to finding his calling, as the show was genuinely entertaining. After 10 years, these two definitely know how to work, okay, play, well together in their own sandbox.
This show would be a dream job for most guys I know, as I recall many a lunch conversation that started with, ‘I wonder what would happen if we…’ followed by a verb (e.g., launched/set fire to/exploded), suffixed with a random object or insect. It is nice to see the program rekindling an interest in science with kids today (did I just say that?!!? Mom, get out of my head!), as the audience contained a lot of them, completely enthralled by these real-life action heroes.
The performance contained a few odes to some of their biggest 3000 or so explosions in video montages, along with a couple of question and answer sessions; however, it mostly consisted of a series of stunts with the help of volunteers from the audience, each of whom had to bring a waiver with them on stage. When some of the participants presented the paper unsigned, the hosts just chuckled and said, ‘that’s fine, you can autograph it afterwards’. It was like being asked to help light things on fire by that cool science/gym teacher that you really wanted to trust, but in the back of your head, there was that niggling doubt that just maybe they were forgetting some critical tidbit of information. Like wearing fire-retardant clothes or goggles or something. Anywho…
One memorable stunt on the TV show involved interlacing the pages of two telephone books together like you would shuffle a deck of cards. The friction caused by the pages makes the books nearly impossible to pull apart. In fact, it took two tanks to finally do so in that experiment. For the stage version, a father and son team from the audience prepared the books that Adam then used to suspend himself from in a harness hoisted about twenty or so feet above the stage by Jamie. Now that’s impressive!
Another stunt had two volunteers racing against each other to fill two long tubes of water using the energy emitted while they bicycled. Of course, the twist was that a giant water balloon was also being filled over the head of the other person, so that whoever lost got drenched. Always a crowd pleaser!
A girl later volunteered to wear the suit of armour that Adam had worn when trying to agitate sharks as he wielded a broad sword on the ocean floor in the Bahamas. Only this time, they took the opportunity to pelt her with a massive paintball gun reminiscent of some kind of major war artillery, setting up a splatter board behind her, protecting the audience. Brave woman! And the stunts continued, much to the delight of all in attendance.
Now, given the premise of the show, their safety record is really quite impeccable. Nary but a few broken fingers from holding safety equipment, of all things. Of course, there was that little cannonball incident a few months back that forever changed their focus on safety… but hey, these things happen to the best of us when we build our own cannonballs and shoot them down a ravine and the ground’s too dry so they bounce through someone’s house, ricochet off a roof and finally come to rest on a minivan. Who can blame them? (Besides the insurance companies).
The greatest explosion they ever made, they both agreed, was the water heater, where they removed every possible safety device from the tank, placed it in the basement of a two-story skeleton of a house, and waited to see how long the pressure build-up would take for it to explode. The answer? Just over 40 minutes. It broke the cinder block footings as it shot up through the floorboards, ceiling, and roof like a rocket. The resulting thud was extremely satisfying for everyone involved. In a word? Awesome!
You really have to hand it to them, they’ve come a long way. I mean, Adam was a set designer, and Jamie had a degree in Russian linguistics. Yup, you read that right. Jamie also built his own kick-ass robot, and became a special effects expert, which is where he met Adam. The rest, as they say, is history. But that’s an entirely different channel.
P.S. If you want to see what other crazy antics these guys are getting up to, you can follow them on Twitter @donttrythis and @Jamienotweet.