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Episode 176: Nerdist Podcast
Danica McKellar
Nerdist PodcastNerdist Podcast

Nerdist Podcast: Danica McKellar

The guys sit down with Danica McKellar for a stellar conversation about growing up Winnie Cooper, her passion for math and how to give children confidence through education. Danica is WAY smart. She has a theorem named after her for crapsake! This ep takes wonderful turns that you may not expect!

Click here for more information on Danica and check out her bestselling books on math!

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    Danica rocks!

    I’m a big Tom Lehrer fan too. Just a heads up that The Onion interviewed Tom back in 2000…,13660/

    Since he granted them an interview, he may grant one to Nerdist. I would love to hear that interview!

  2. Ana says:

    I can’t watch it. :/

  3. Jed says:

    Danica just sparked my interest in Math back up again.
    Just pulled out my old Calculus text book!

  4. Joe Palen says:

    My old hardcover copy of “A History of Mathematics” is now sitting on my kitchen table (thanks to this episode of the podcast).

    As a fellow math major (though my name is not on any theorems) and performer (albeit in obscurity), I’m inspired by Danica’s integration of her diverse talents.

    I’ve always kept the two worlds separate… but now the juices are flowing (eww!)… thinking about merging (math & performing).

    Parenthetically Yours… Joe

  5. This was a fun podcast. I am thrilled that there books out there to help get more people into math.

    In other news, thanks to Netflix Streaming (they should sponsor one of the Nerdist Industries podcats!) I was able to see “Jane White is Sick and Twisted.”

    Is Jane White sick and twisted? Yes.

    This was not the worst movie I saw this weekend. If you are into movies with tons and tons of references to TV shows up to the 2001ish then this movie is for YOU.

    The movie is packed with tons of comedians you might recognize from other places. This includes our very own Chris Hardwick and the lovely Dana Mckellar!

    If you have Netflix streaming, you like weird humor, and you have about 90 minuets to kill–toss this baby in your instant queue.

  6. gaba says:

    thanks for this. what a great mix of people.

  7. Jon says:

    Sorry I’m late to the comment thread, but I just caught this and had to ask Chris…why did your mock intro sound like Neil Diamond?

    Not a complaint. Use it all the time. Great work.

  8. Sporin says:

    GREAT episode, wife and I were both so impressed we immediately ordered one of her books for our 9 year old son (it must be nearly as relavent for boys as well as girls, right?)

    Keep up the great work Nerds!

  9. Patti says:

    Great podcast! Chris seemed so genuinely interested in talking with a lady math nerd. Girls can be pretty and intelligent. It’s true! I think it’s great that Danica is writing books to help young girls understand math. I wish someone had done that when I was younger. Math was my least favorite subject. *hangs head in shame* Also, Jonah first mentioned, and then Chris reiterated that The Nerdist Way is helping kids. Well, if a 50 year old is a kid, then it’s true for me, too. Thanks, Chris. <3

  10. Matt H. says:

    Loved this podcast, guys. I was a math major at Georgia Tech and ate it up through differential equations, but I burned out during the proof writing courses. I hope that Danica continues writing books for higher and higher levels of math because that fear of failure can paralyze you whether you’re learning pre-algebra or number theory.

  11. mmia says:

    I loved this podcast, another great one from you guys. I’m not sure how this is going to fly on here but here it goes. This whole podcast was really cool and inspiring for women, one thing that struck me though was when Chris asked about why women date dickheads in college and not nice nerdy guys. Maybe I just here this too often about how nice guys never get the girl like that’s a girls fault or if she’s not into you she must only date assholes. This is a stereotype that seems to really take old on the Internets and it kind of takes away from the otherwise inspiring message this podcast had.

  12. Marq Gorton says:

    Just listened to it this morning on my way to class. Pretty great podcast; she really brings the best of nerdity (nerditude?) out.

  13. Pretty Avid says:

    wait…I’m usually not this trolly, but…that was easily the least interesting podcast in the history of nerdist. Is it weird to feel that way? I genuinely love ALL of the nerdists podcast. I’ve heard every single one during my commute to work over the years and this one bored me to tears. (I sobbed for 3 to 4 minutes). Danica is hot, very intelligent, well meaning etc, and that makes for a great person, but it makes for a (Edutainment program they make you watch in school on those tv cart things) esque podcast.

    Troll over. thanks, sorry.

  14. @WookiePants: AHA! That sounds right! I could probably start a whole other podcast of “Nerdist Corrections”. Sorry about that but thanks for the info.

    Also, here’s my nerd correction for YOU: “Wookiee” has two “e”s. 🙂

    *Wipes even more spittle from mouth*

  15. Brad says:

    This episode illustrates unequivocally why Nerdist inc. is one of the best podcast entelechies in existence! The hosts jovial chemistry and the open and intelligent conversation are refreshing. Nerdist has a knack for bringing in those elusive “ah ha! ” guests, i.e. people whom we know of or remember vaguely, but who are secretly (to me at least) paragons of coolness! Thank you for the hundreds of great free podcasts and for exhibiting an ideological equanimity with which I can relax and enjoy my burrito.

  16. J M says:

    I can’t be the only one who accidentally read the link like this: “Click here for more information on Danica and check out her bestselling books on METH!” I’ve watched too much breaking bad.

    Great podcast, loved it.

  17. Justin Wiseman says:

    She was WONDERFUL on this episode!! #Nerdist

  18. dennis says:

    that pod cast with Danica was ……. Amazing!

  19. WookiePants says:

    Nerd correction: Peter Weller has a Master’s degree in Roman and Renaissance Art at Syracuse University and occasionally teaches courses in ancient history. He starred as architect Frank Lloyd Wright at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in ‘Frank’s Home’.

    Tom Hulce was the voice of Quasimodo in Disney’s ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’, which made $325 million at the box office. He’s done some production and cameos since.

    *wipes spittle from corners of mouth*

  20. Jillian says:

    My favorite Tom Lehrer song- “The Irish Ballad”.

  21. ambkat says:

    Just ordered her books for my 13 year old daughter. Nerdist: making the world smarter one middle-schooler at a time.

  22. Paul G says:

    I’m just excited that there’s now someone on twitter named “DopplerChewie”

  23. Beetlebrox says:

    Great episode. I’m going to have to get her books for my daughter.

  24. Vincent K. says:

    This was a great episode! I met Danica McKellar about twenty years ago and I’m still smitten.

  25. John Edgington says:

    Doppler Chewie is now a meme. Great episode guys!!

  26. Vincent S says:

    Awesome person and gorgeous as hell. I was bummed when “enjoy your burrito” somehow wasn’t reverse engineered to a mathematical equation. If she had notice? I have to be on the colossally massive list of meat sacks that didn’t immediately realise what her paper title was about… I feel sad.

  27. Luke says:

    As someone who works in the field of mathematics, it is always fascinating to hear how my field is represented in the popular media. I’ve seen McKellar’s book at the bookstore before and taking a look at it, she seems to do a good job at getting to her target audience.

    Her point about having a physical book is very true. No greater pleasure in life then having a physical mathematics book sitting open and reading – mine is open to a page on Lebesgue measure theory – for hours.

    Chris, you must try and get Tom Lehrer on the show! He would be such an amazing guest and I’d love to just here him talk about anything. He doesn’t have much time left on the planet (he is 83 after all) and I’d kill a pigeon to hear an interview.

  28. gary says:

    There is something wonderful in this podcast, something primarily Nerdy that boils down to the really cute girl who joins Math Team and suddenly the guys around her are utterly charmed and trying to impress her regardless of their own achievements. I got this huge flashback to Mu Alpha Theta bus trips in high school where you were one of 2 other guys who wanted the attention of the smart, cute girl.

    Honestly, I hope this doesn’t change for you guys. There is something completely endearing abou it.

  29. Jen says:

    Loved this episode. My favorite Tom Lehrer song is Be Prepared. ‘don’t solicit for your sister, that’s not nice …’

    I sent you guys a card c/o Nerdmelt. there’s a little something for each of you inside, the thing for Chris is pi related. Hope you enjoy it.


  30. Three Toes of Fury says:

    Chris: Sweet tap dancing hezues….i just saw the partnership announcement on AICN!!! [email protected]$king-believable. I cannot wait for the Nerdist youtube channel to drop. #giddee-up!

    Peace .n. [email protected]


  31. three toes of fury says:


    WOO HOO!! The nerdist symbol just appeared in my bookmark toolbar and next to the website link!! Clearly a super sciency person has found a way to make it happen. Germ..aka NDT…could it be you that did such a thing! Well done heeding Chris’s advice and doing something constructive with your time. Perhaps next you could make me a nice fresh batch of snickerdoodles?

    Peace and Haaachooo…”SCIENCE!”


  32. Kenadee says:

    Danica seems really cool and smart also, loved the Tom Lehrer nerd-out at the end. And as a middle school girl I’ll have to check out Danica’s books. One of my favorites! Keep up the good work.

  33. Mister Joe Shmoe says:

    today in math class i finally understood what were working on and the math high i got from it encourged me to all this things i’ve been putting off and it encourged me ask out this girl i like but that all ended when she turned me down

  34. Germ: well, Dr. T, since you used that one long science word mash-up at the end, I totally believe you!

  35. Kevin says:

    Dakota Fanning is 18 so I don’t think there is anything wrong with them dressing her up like a sexy adult. Good ep.

  36. John48221 says:

    That was a great episode. In college I loved calculus so much that I took the same class twice (Incomplete and my first D in my life) then I took business calculus and using applications made a big difference and I got an A and I couldn’t remember anything from those first two attempts. My daughter is in middle school so I may have to get those books now.

  37. Thomas says:

    Could she and Natalie Portman get “married”?

  38. Tom Steele says:

    I read children’s books all the time because they’re quick easy reads, But I _still_ can’t get into Harry Potter, because so many other Fantasy series are done SOOOO much better. I don’t get it at all. A true fantasy nerd would read something else. (Goes down shooting with pbnews)

  39. pbnews says:

    This was a fantastic Nerdist episode. Great guest, and I really like the ‘sincere’ Chris. Being into Harry Potter as a grown man is not ‘nerdy’, though, it’s immature (I know I’ll get crap for this on this site, but those books are for children).

  40. Matt Grandis says:

    This gave me a brain boner. Danica McKellar is obviously a good person.

  41. Germ says:

    Chris: I didn’t want to out myself but I’m Neil Degrasse Tyson so I know a little about educating the kids, and I don’t even use pseudoscience. Make me a youtube apology video and I’ll consider coming back on your show. quarkspacetimegluonsdarkmattersingularity.

  42. Germ: …because she’s trying to reach young girls and make math interesting to them. Young kids are frightened by “hard science.” What have YOU done for education lately? Hmmmm??? I’m guessing very little. *stares disapprovingly at your snarky comment*

    Try refocusing that sarcastic energy and do something good for the world. C’mon! Do it! You’re smart!

  43. Ben Z says:

    The first few times I ever drank (and any time I was drunk), I would do calculus problems in my head to convince myself that I hadn’t destroyed my math abilities. Then again, I was a mathematics major in college.

  44. Justin says:

    I’m flipping out…I JUST watched that episode of IT Crowd today with the new emergency number. Just watched it like an hour ago! I haven’t watched the show in months! Crazy.

  45. Germ says:

    But seriously, one of her books has horoscopes. Nothing says hard science and logic like Astrology…

  46. Germ says:

    Danica Mckellar FTWinnie! *kills self*

  47. Other than HIMYM, the only thing I’ve seen her in is “The Super Mario Bros. Super Show”. This’ll be interesting.

  48. corey says:

    Another great podcast, they keep getting better. Great Talking Dead as well last night. I feel like I need to re-watch Wonder Years from start to finish ASAP after this. “Shes wicked smart.” in my best/annoying Boston accent.