Photos by David Allen
After MythBusting their asses off on the Discovery Channel for the past 14 years, Adam Savage and co-host Jamie Hyneman have exposed more truths than Wikileaks. And now, as their show's ultimate episodes are about to air (the final season of MythBusters begins January 9), the destructive duo is touring the country together one last time. Ahead of their arrival, Savage speaks with PacificSD about science, storytelling and social media.
PacificSD: How would you describe the show?
ADAM SAVAGE: It's a magic show, except, instead of magic, it's science. It shares its structure with what you are familiar with in a magic show, which is separate vignettes or stunts or bits of storytelling. And like a magic show, we incorporate the audience. We bring about a dozen people up onstage throughout the evening, and it's really fun. It keeps the show different and it allows us more direct interaction with the audience. We just love doing it.
What's one element of the show that gets a big reaction from audiences?
We do all sorts of stuff in the show. We talk about behind-the-scenes stuff, and we give a glimpse into what we really love about explosions. There's one bit that I'm particularly fond of, when we have a physical contest between two audience members we call "gladiators." One is the tiniest little girl we can find, and the other is the biggest man we can find. With a little help from physics, we pretty much make sure that the little girl wins.
What's your favorite part about performing onstage, as opposed to on television?
It took me a long time to realize that the thing I love about doing the show is the storytelling. Really that's what it breaks down to. Humans are naturally addicted to storytelling; it's what we do as a species. MythBusters was a wonderful way to tell stories, but going onstage is completely different. I love the immediacy of it. I have a lot of friends who are standup comedians, which I consider the most difficult of the performing arts - seriously, the most difficult. And the thing about it that's difficult is being able to slow down and really hear the audience and react to them. A great comedian is not just rhetorically talking, but they are responding to the audience and having a conversation with them. I love doing that from the stage. It's a tremendous rush and a great education. I love being able to whip a crowd into a frenzy and talk about something that's really amazing to me all at the same time.
You live-tweeted your last day of filming in November. What was that experience like?
It was one of those rare social-media moments in which what I was doing was as cathartic for me as it was for the fans. I was thinking of it as just like, "Oh, this would be really nice," and the fans were so appreciative for including them in this goodbye. I didn't realize they would be so moved by it.
Now that the TV show is over, what's next for your career?
Jamie and I, along with Gail Berman at the Jackal Group, we sold a scripted dramedy to CBS a few weeks ago. It's about two special- effects guys based on Jamie and me who get tied up with clandestine government agencies. It's a really fun idea we're working on with Lilla and Nora Zuckerman, two amazing television writers from Fringe. I'm really psyched about this idea. It's going to be a lot of fun. Besides that, I've got a nice deep pitch deck and I'm working with my team to craft the next move.
What are you going to miss most about MythBusters?
I haven't the slightest idea. It's a reality that I can't quite conceive of
at this point. I'm still sort of fresh from the end. But we've produced 250 hours of this show with a crew of only about 17 people, and I love every single one of them. They're like family, and to realize that I'm not going to be working on set with those guys, it's really quite emotional.
Anything you're not going to miss?
Frankly, I know I'm not going to miss arguing with Jamie.
Jamie & Adam Unleashed San Diego Civic Theatre
1100 Third Ave., Downtown
1100 Third Ave., Downtown