Ben Miller to educate and entertain with ‘Stand-Up Science’ show at Joystick

On Saturday, April 15, NYC-based comedian Ben Miller will perform at the Joystick Comedy Arcade for his Stand-Up Science tour, educating and entertaining audiences.


Darren Chen

A microphone placed on the stage for the Open Mic Night at the Joystick Comedy Arcade in Iowa City on Monday, December 6, 2022.

Stella Shipman, Arts Reporter

Although experimentation with lasers, humidity response polymers, and 3-D printed cookies might not sound particularly humorous, they led one comic to a hit stand-up career. Ben Miller never expected to be a comedian until he started cracking jokes about science.

Miller will perform his Stand-Up Science show at Joystick Comedy Arcade on Saturday.

Miller is a New York-based comedian who has performed stand-up for six years since graduating college. He attended Columbia University, from which he earned a degree in materials science and engineering.

Miller was passionate about both science and comedy, but it wasn’t until graduation that he combined them in a show that everyone enjoyed.

“For a while, I was very hesitant to talk about being a scientist on stage and everyone being like ‘you’re pretentious, how dare you,’”  Miller said. “I thought they’d boot me off the stage or whatever. But people actually seem to be very supportive.”

This has proven true, with Miller named the top roast battler in New York City. He has performed in all of NYC’s most popular comedy clubs and some of the nation’s biggest comedy festivals.

In 2023, he also became the first stand-up comedian selected by the National Parks Arts Foundation for an artist residency at the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

Miller’s show at Joystick is part of his international tour through the U.S. and the U.K. His Stand-Up Science show was completely sold out at the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe Festival for performance art.

The show was developed from Miller’s web series that he created during the lockdown period of the COVID-19 pandemic. The episodes that Miller filmed for the series featured the use of pictures, graphs, and videos. This has been incorporated into his live shows for a multimedia approach to stand-up.

Travis Coltrain, the talent booker and events manager at Joystick, wrote the comedy arcade is excited to host Miller.

“I thought his science show would be a great fit for both Joystick and Iowa City as a whole,” Coltrain wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan. “We have a huge science department and a bunch of students that I knew would love his style of comedy.”

Coltrain expects Joystick audiences to be just as enthusiastic as they typically are for most other acts, adding that the comedy arcade won Little Village’s best new business of 2023 and Little Village’s best stand-up comic of 2022.

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Joystick continues to provide plentiful opportunities for comedians in Iowa City to pursue their dreams, especially because comedy is such a social bright spot.

“Following the pandemic everyone was desperate for a good time, for places and activities where they could escape the world outside,” Coltrain wrote. “Comedy allows for that escape, even now. It gives a place where people can come together, laugh and just forget about the stress of life.”

Miller said he believes comedy can be used to cope with and understand serious issues, but he also values comedy for its ability to simply make people happy. For his show on Saturday, he hopes that he can educate and entertain audiences.

“I mean, overall, laughing is a nice time,” said Miller. “But I think, also, one of the things I love about comedy as an art form is you can take some of the more serious or potentially taboo topics and make them not only accessible but find the joy in them, and the ability to sort of transmute pain into something fun and entertaining.”

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