On Friday, March 29, comedian Adam Conover visited the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco to perform a creative execution of stand-up comedy. Conover has discovered a new method to bring both relatability and applicability into the art form.
Fellow comedian Natasha Muse opened up the show before Conover appeared to deliver the main event of the night, titled “Mind Parasite LIVE.” Conover’s method of presentation fused with a lecture-style organization, quirky graphics and pure comedy served to educate and entertain the audience.
Conover used a powerpoint presentation as the main visual aid throughout his set. He demonstrated that this medium does not always have to be stolid or dull by littering the slides with cartoon illustrations, saturated colors and fun fonts. The titular star and focus of the evening was none other than parasites — both literal and figurative. Conover informatively lectured on specific types of parasites that affect small organisms such as snails or insects. This scientific information was a memorable segway into the figurative psychological parasites that influence human social behavior.
Specifically, Conover mentioned horrifying parasites such as the cordyceps, green-banded broodsac and emerald jewel wasp. In order to incite a disgusted reaction from the audience members and thus retain their heightened sensory attention, Conover described in acute detail the process of infestation and the gruesome deaths of the parasites’ hosts — cracking jokes along the way. Even when discussing repulsive content, the audience erupted in laughter constantly. For instance, when introducing the emerald jewel wasp, Conover said, “This proves that God does not exist; although I don’t want to step on anyone’s religion, if you believe in a God that created this thing, I am not in,” resulting in thundering laughter.
Conover also spent a substantial amount of time enlightening the audience about the mind parasites that are currently taking over societal development such as advertisements, drugs and technological algorithms. The amount of effort and research Conover put into preparing for the evening showed through the credible statistical data, scientific truths and personal experimentation that enriched the presentation.
He stated that the average person sees about 5,000 ads a day and then humorously backed up this information: He took pictures of every ad he came across throughout a day. When he showed the audience a picture of an ad for his show “Adam Ruins Everything” in a public urinal, they erupted in laughter once again. He further demonstrated the depth of his research by teaching the audience about low involvement processing and subsequently using a Corona ad to prove the theory.
The show became personally grounded when Conover discussed his alcohol addiction. After quitting drinking, he realized that alcoholism is so normalized in the United States that diagnosing it as a harmful habit becomes harder and harder. Conover elaborated on the other social issues that come with alcoholism, such as peer pressure. Sharing delicate personal background such as substance abuse in such a down-to-earth manner really highlights the improvement of Conover’s mental health since quitting and may unconsciously encourage some in the audience to cut back on potentially harmful substances to a moderate amount.
The show continued to explore technological advancement. Conover helpfully set up an analogy between evolution and algorithm testing. He developed the point that although algorithms started off simply as a method to get internet users to click or stay on a site longer, they can enforce much more harm than good to the general public.
He took the audience through another personal experiment in which he went incognito and searched up a controversial topic on YouTube. The autoplay function coupled with the plethora of problematic videos in the column on the right side caused this experiment to spiral into a deep pit of misleading information and severe bias. Seeing this hilariously unexpected and ridiculously detrimental escalation effectively warned the audience of the danger of popular search engines.
Providing social commentary through comedy and observational humor is clearly Conover’s forte. His flawless execution of heavily supported information embellishes his jokes and passion for the art form exceptionally. Conover is not afraid to get funky with his presentation style, and this fearlessness resulted in a thoroughly enjoyable evening in San Francisco.
Contact Sophie Kim at [email protected].