I’d Rather Be Kari Byron

Whenever I’m asked about my dream job, I feel like I should say, “I want to be a writer!” (Full enthusiasm, exclamation points and all.) That is what I’m going to school for, after all. But really, my first thought is always, “I want to be Kari Byron!”

In case you don’t know, Kari Byron is the only female Mythbuster. She earns her living by using her artistic and scientific skills (and, since it’s TV and this is America, her cute smile and quirky wardrobe) on one of the Discovery Channel’s most popular shows to…well…bust myths. Meaning she does crazy scientific experiments and TV presentation all day. Meaning she blows stuff up, sets things on fire, and shoots things on a regular basis. Because there are so many nerds out there (myself included) who must know: Can you unlock a door by shooting it? Can you split a tree in half with an arrow and dynamite? Is it really better to hit the ground running? Can you literally knock someone’s socks off?

I’m aware that “Kari Byron” is not a job description. Even when she was on maternity leave, no one could really fill her shoes (the girl who replaced her for a few episodes, Jessi, had a similar chubby-cheeked edginess, but she wasn’t as charismatic, as sharp or as, well, Kari). But how cool would it be to have a job that meant constantly learning and experimenting? True, you could go to school and become an actual scientist, but scientists don’t tend to have fans, and it must be great for the self esteem to have fans. And Kari is one of the most popular Mythbusters. Perhaps this is because she is the only girl (and a cute one, at that) on a show that is most likely watched mainly by boys who would have a crush on her and girls who would like to be her. How wonderful to find a profession where being smart and artsy can make you popular. Famous, actually, without the burden of being tabloid famous.

Look at her bio:

“Artist” was only one of many hats she wore while searching for her place in the world. Her sculpting skills and love for odd jobs soon led her into the field of model-making and toy-prototyping, which led to a job with Jamie Hyneman at M5 Industries. It was at M5 that Kari got her big break with MythBusters.

I would love to have “artist” be only one of my many hats. The fact is, my brain can’t survive on art alone. I am a middle-brain person, as opposed to using primarily the right or left half of my brain. You might say it’s because I’m a Libra, if you believe in such things. You might say it’s because (and I can’t prove this, but I believe it to be true) my kindergarten teacher took the pencil out of my left hand and put it in my right (when learning the Pledge of Allegiance, I was told to put the hand I wrote with over my heart–the teacher must have assumed we were all right-handed–and I put my left hand over my heart almost every time). Either way, I crave the tangible, the provable, the scientific. But not to the point where I’d ever want to go to school for science. I live in the middle ground. Which is why Kari’s job would be perfect.

Once, when writing a short story, I beat a pumpkin with a ketchup bottle in an attempt to figure out whether a blow to the head would kill my character or simply set her bleeding. I would have loved to be able to use ballistics gel and a mock skeleton, maybe an impact meter, to get really accurate results. Of course, even with only the pumpkin for a gauge, I soon learned that if that kind of research is necessary in a story, I’m probably getting too bogged down in details and forgetting what the story is about. As a writer, I find it hard to balance the two sides of my brain. If I were Kari Byron, I bet I could do it.
Other reasons I would like to be Kari Byron:

  • She even kicks ass when she’s pregnant. Kari busted quite a few myths even while waddling through the late stages of pregnancy, while always keeping in mind the safety of her baby.
  • She gets to shoot all kinds of guns. If I recall correctly, she once shot a bazooka.
  • She is an artist with a day job–a day job she seems to love.

Sure, there are times when her work is probably mind-numbing and back-breaking (would you like to construct a zeppelin-sized balloon out of lead foil?) but I would guess the rewards outweigh the costs. Of course I do. It’s my fantasy, not my reality.


  • Asa Maria says:

    Great post Laura and I totally relate to keeping the two sides of my brain separate and not get too detailed oriented on step-by-step procedures when writing stories. I do find though, that my scientist way of looking at the world helps me when looking at stories and essays. I seem to often come at them from a different angle than a non-scientist.
    Oh, and Mythbusters is the best thing ever!

  • Sam Ligon says:

    Does that photo caption really say Chicks with Guns… Are So Frickin Hot?

    I also like MythBusters, though it often seems that I’ve never heard of the “myths” in question, and that all of them are just an excuse to blow shit up.

  • Marcus says:

    “But how cool would it be to have a job that meant constantly learning and experimenting?”

    And this is where MFA-toting, editor-by-day me says, sagely, “But isn’t that what writers do?”

    Now to go wipe the pretentiousness off myself and watch Kari blow shit up…

    • Laura says:

      It is what writers do, in a sense, but not in such a concrete way. And when you write a story, there’s no impact meter or high-speed camera footage to help prove whether the experiment was successful or not. There are just readers and editors who rarely agree about the success of a literary experiment.

  • Asa Maria says:

    Oh and Laura, if you like Mythbusters, you might love Junkjard Wars:http://www.ovguide.com/tv/junkyard_wars.htm#
    Two teams each get their own “expert” and can only use what they find in the junkjard to build the machine or thing required to finish a challenge.

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