Scott Golder is an academic in life, but a comedian at heart. He was always sure he would go to college and receive a doctorate.
He has studied linguistics and computer science at Harvard University, was a graduate student at MIT Media Laboratory’s Sociable Media Group and has worked for Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Microsoft. He is now a graduate student at Cornell University.
Despite his serious resume, his skills in improvisation and stand-up comedy have earned him the title of Funniest Person in Ithaca.
ComedyFLOPs, Finger Lakes Original Pranksters, an organization formed in 2011, recognized Golder at its festival Feb. 18.
Assistant News Editor Elma Gonzalez sat down with Golder to talk about his hobby and his performance at the festival.
Elma Gonzalez: Why are you doing comedy?
Scott Golder: I’ve always really enjoyed comedy. It was really big in the ’80s [and] ’90s in the television shows. They televised comics, and I remember staying up when I was a kid — Friday or Saturday nights or whatever — and watching the stand-up shows on TV. I took … some improv classes and some acting classes even as far back as middle school. I was never really serious about it. I’d been writing more stand-up, [but] I never got to perform it. But then I decided if I don’t do it now, when am I ever going to do it?
EG: How are comedy and your work as a computer science researcher related?
SG: It’s a lot like being an academic. I am doing a Ph.D. in sociology, and I actually think that comedians and sociologists have a lot in common. You have to be able to identify what is weird about the world. You sort of have to be able to look at the world and look at the familiar with an unfamiliar point of view and be able to figure out what is weird about it.
EG: How do you prepare for your stand-up?
SG: I’m very new at this. I have been on stage four times total, so I am giving you the perspective of someone who is really just muddling his way through for the first couple of times. I don’t really sit down and write, and maybe that will develop, but I will keep notes all the time when I’m driving or when I’m walking. These things are fleeting, so I write them down, and that’s basically how I work.
EG: How did you do in ComedyFLOPs?
SG: Awesome. I won a trophy and 100 bucks. The trophy was kind of one of those awesomely Ithaca things. You ever see something and say, “That is so Ithaca” because it was made by somebody local? … It looked like it was made with parts that they found. It’s just this oddball collection of things, and it really comes together. It weighs a ton. It’s very heavy. I’m pretty sure it’s made of a hub cap, but I really like it. I have it on top of a cabinet in my living room right now. It’s very cool. I feel phenomenally lucky and grateful because there were a lot of really good comics there — most of them far more experienced than I was. Everyone was really funny, and I’m just glad to see that Ithaca has a ton of comedic talent.
EG: What is it like to be the funniest man here?
SG: It sort of tells me even though I’m just getting started, maybe I shouldn’t give up on it, that there is something to it, and I think I’ll keep pursuing it. Certainly if this whole Ph.D. thing doesn’t work out, I’ll go become a comedian or something like that.