A panel interview with the beautiful and delicious Kari Byron of the MythBusters
Our very own Dazvsemir and Kari Byron. See how HAPPY he is!
Kari Byron of Mythbusters held a press conference as part of her appearance at the April 2007 26th I-Con at Stony Brook, NY. When Dazvsemir and I entered the small classroom where the conference took place Byron was already sitting at a desk, kicking at the floor with her knee-high boots and chatting about weather and traffic. Although there were few reporters, a good amount of camera equipment was aimed at her. The room was filling up, but people were having trouble finding the right place in the labyrinthine classroom wing of the sports complex.
The first official question aimed at her was about her favorite myth, which turned out to be the myth of the exploding pants (or trousers, if you will) of New Zealand. Turns out the explosions had to do with a herbicide used in the 1930’s which then reacted with the cloth of the farmers who sprayed it all over their pants as well as the ragwort they were trying to eliminate. Byron loves myths with historical origins and generally loves explosions which, by default, made that one a favorite. It was also a myth the myth busters did not expect to be true, but which turned out to be another example of truth being stranger than fiction.
The questions poured in after this and Byron was asked about her favorite coworker, to which she diplomatically replied that it’s like asking a mother who her favorite child was. The show itself was discussed. The format is two myths per episode and ten days for research, per myth. Results are never ever faked. The story of how Byron ended up on the show preceded with some information about herself in general.
Byron is an artist, which can be ascertained by visiting her website where strange creatures are constructed out of a variety of materials (she did not mention the site herself, but it is worth mentioning). Sculpting helped her get her foot in the door but it was actually her behind that got her on the show. She didn’t discuss this, but part of her Discovery Channel biography gives away that Jamie Hyneman, the co-host and idea-man of the show, needed a scan of a person’s butt and Byron’s happened to be “in the right place at the right time”.
Someone asked about a previous job as a mannequin and Kari confirmed that it really happened. The self-same biography mentions this oddest of odd jobs and it appears that everyone asks her about it. The highlight of her stint as a mannequin/shop-lifter scrutinizer was the capture of a girl who was trying to get away with four pair of leather pants.
But back to the show. Byron has scars from dealing with Buster, the crash test dummy who often participates where the human cast cannot. He is just over 200 lbs and Byron has been trapped underneath him before. Mythbusters is at this point looking for a new crash test dummy since Buster has been smashed up and rebuilt so much that “the only original parts left are his face and one foot.” Byron has been instrumental in Buster’s past reconstructions.
What does Kari Byron hate? She hates “oogy boogie”. This means that she doesn’t care about trying to figure out if something is true when there is no science to it. She, for example, doesn’t care to find out whether or not plants have feelings (especially because she is a vegetarian). She is willing to work only with something that is concrete.
New myths being worked on at the time of the interview (and apparently aired just last week) were to do with snow . Can avalanches really be created by yodeling? Can a tongue really get stuck to a frozen pole? There are also some new airbag myths being sifted through.
Where do all these ideas come from? Often, from the viewers. The Internet has been perpetuating much misinformation and people want to know what’s true and what’s not. For example, what of the Darwin Awards, are those true?
There are daily challenges to myth busts. An expert can apparently be found in absolutely anything, no matter how obscure a field. The myth busters do a lot of revisiting of episodes and as Byron tells it, “we are willing to admit we made a lot of mistakes.” In fact, fan sites at Discovery have “entire threads dedicated to just how wrong we are.”
So what if things just aren’t coming together? Sometimes, the myth busters will just give up on a myth that’s going nowhere. But there are also myths that are busted but the results are so controversial that they are not aired. For example, the episode about throwing your body over grenades to save friends was not aired. There have also been cases where products of sponsors of the show were proven ineffective and those episodes are only aired in Europe.
Byron is not really the type to bask in her own glory. She says that she is often embarrassed watching herself on TV. She does love watching the Dirty Jobs guy and American Chopper though. What she did like watching of herself was a spoof of the show currently on youtube.com. “If people are spoofing you, you’re doing alright.” Speaking of youtube, check out this episode of Mentos and Coke in case you somehow managed to never see it. Kari Byron would love for that craze to fade away.
So, outside of geek and weirdo conventions like the I-Con, where else can Kari Byron be found? Probably just the set of Mythbusters. She doesn’t usually do conventions and has nothing to do with anything Hollywood. She does do a lot of college talks, but does not solicit attention. She is a self-proclaimed homebody who just loves staying around San Francisco where she lives with her husband and three dogs.
Article and Photography Copyright © 2007 to Eat the Lemons