Frisky Q&A: “Daily Show” Correspondent Jessica Williams Gets Scientific

Last week, “Daily Show” correspondent Jessica Williams paid a visit to the NYU science labs to conduct some #EmojiScience experiments. The GE #EmojiScience campaign set out to prove that there’s science in everything by creating experiments that relate to emojis. Scientists then sent out Snapchat footage of celebrity guests like Bill Nye, Gary Vaynerchu, Baratunde Thurston and Williams conducting them. At the lab, I watched the research team light a taco on fire (scientifically, of course) in a plea for Apple to add a taco emoji and discovered beakers full of neon liquids that fizzed just like in the movies. For a person who reads and writes all day at work and thus hasn’t done a science experiment since maybe 11th grade, it was a grand adventure. I watched Williams conduct experiments that involved electric-shocking a pickle (at least, that’s what it looked like!) and making color-changing tie-dye water; but first, she sat down with me for a quick chat about science, street harassment and internet cats.The Frisky: What brings you to #EmojiScience?

Jessica Williams: I really like science but it’s never been accessible to me, I’m more of a writer and comedian. Emoji just seemed like the best possible way for me to get into science, so I’m excited that science has been dumbed down for me enough that I can participate in experiments. This seemed like a good, fun opportunity.

Which emoji do you think would inspire the weirdest experiment of all?

Probably the salsa girl. What about the two cat girls? They definitely that would inspire some sort of weird science experiment that I will hopefully not have to participate in. I mostly don’t like internet cat culture, very controversially. I don’t like cats, I’m so allergic I have to carry an EpiPen for cats.

Is the allergy the reason you don’t like them?

No they also just seem really bitchy, they all seem rude and mischievous. Did you ever see that movie “Cats & Dogs” when it came out?

Yes! The cats were assholes.

The cats were like villains and I was like “yeah, yeah they are.”

You have a point there.

Are you a cat lover?

I’m a hardcore cat lover. But hey, if you could ask a rocket scientist any question, what would you ask?

How can we make rockets more reliable? How can we make space travel not as scary? It’s nothing about math, I don’t have any questions about math, oh my gosh, no, but how can we make space travel not such a dangerous experience? That’s the one thing — I’m so fascinated by space but I don’t really want to go to space because it seems so not safe.

According to #EmojiScience, there’s science in everything. So if there’s science in everything, what do you think we should do in our everyday life to challenge our minds more?

How about a science Fact-A-Day? Not too overboard, but maybe following a Twitter account that has cool science facts. Slowly accumulating that over time, you’ll just know a bunch of facts — just memorization. But I’m too afraid to do experiments on my own. I’m not going to be like, “Go conduct an experiment with like a beaker and a fire!” I will not condone that. Because I feel like if I do that I’m going to set my hair on fire.

Do you think there’s some mythical scientific law that could help with the issues you talk about on “The Daily Show,” like a law that would stop catcallers or prevent sexual assault?

Yeah, it should be “don’t do it.” What is the probability that when you catcall at a woman, she’s genuinely going to enjoy it and be flattered and give you her number and then sleep with you? The probability is zero percent. It’s a zero percent chance. That’s my scientific method. The method is that as soon as you catcall me, it’s a zero percent chance that we will be speaking.

What emojis do you think are missing from the canon?

Oh, this my favorite one, the shotgun [as in, the hand gesture]. I just want to send a shotgun.

Update on Dec 22, 2014: I’d previously referred to the hypothetical rocket scientist in an earlier question as “him,” but I removed the pronoun, because hi internalized sexism! I definitely don’t want to imply that a scientist would automatically be a dude.