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Overthinking the simple things: David Rees talks at Huge

We tend to talk about complicated things. Last week at Huge, the National Geographic TV host argued that the simplest topics are fascinating, too.

David Rees, right, being interviewed by Bill Wasik of the New York Times, at Huge. (Photo by Brady Dale)

David Rees’s comedy has taken many forms. He started making webcomics without drawing and then became a political cartoonist and then an author and now he has a show on the National Geographic channel called Going Deep with David Rees.

In it, Rees finds some topic that seems unexplorably simple and then goes into it so deeply that you realize there’s much more to every topic than you thought possible.

Or, as he put it, “It’s a how-to show that teaches you how to do the things you think you know how to do.”

Last Wednesday, Rees spoke to a packed house at the offices of Huge, in Dumbo.

The New York Times Magazine’s Bill Wasik moderated the conversation with Rees. The first season finale of Going Deep with David Rees airs tonight.

Here are a few of Rees’s standout observations from over the course of the evening:

  • On the shows simple topics: “Nothing is inherently boring. Everything is made of molecules and experienced by humans. Once you have molecules and humans involved, it is going to be incredible.”
  • On the origins of the show: Rees did a humorous but informative book on pencil sharpening, the method of which is basically the recipe for the show. “Oh shit, I have been sharpening pencils for four years. I did not expect that.” Here he is sharpening the favorite pencil of Liz Danzico.
  • On becoming an expert on pencil sharpening: “Once you really focus on anything, it’s going to blow your mind.”
  • On evolved technology: “You want to talk about a technology that represents literally centuries of engineering improvements and materials science and design? It’s called a pencil.”
  • On drinking super pure water: “Drinking super pure water is like drinking a ghost.”
  • On his Aphex Twin-Taylor Swift mashups: “It’s really important in your creative life that you have something that reflects play.” And, “The opposite of play is not work. The opposite of play is depression.”

Watch the entire talk below. It’s a good one.

Companies: Huge
Series: Brooklyn

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