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Adam Savage captivates with stories of his winding career

Former co-host of the Discovery Channel television series MythBusters Unchained Reaction, Adam Savage, speaks at Wilks Theater
Former co-host of the Discovery Channel television series MythBusters Unchained Reaction, Adam Savage, speaks at Wilks Theater

When Adam Savage walked on stage in the Wilks Theater in Armstrong Student Center at Miami University on Tuesday, the audience would’ve been satisfied if he talked about “Mythbusters” for an hour. Instead, Savage explained his treasure map of a career path while sprinkling in advice for the students in the crowd.

Savage’s career path includes working on commercials, prop making for theater, repairing R2-D2 and 14 years of Mythbusters.

When Savage began the rundown of his career that makes up the basis of his new autobiography “Every Tool’s a Hammer: Life Is What You Make It,” he went through many phases of his career and his thoughts about his bosses and jobs.

As Savage worked his way up in the world of prop making in San Francisco theater, he got a call from someone who would end up both his boss and colleague.

“I was getting this reputation in San Francisco for being able to solve specific mechanical problems,” Savage said. “I was getting weirder jobs which was really fun, and I got a call from this guy Jamie [Hyneman]. I didn't know Jamie at the time. I didn't even know of him but he ran a small special effects shop and he said ‘I’m working on this commercial and I'd love it if you’d come in and show me your portfolio.’”

After talking about his path from making props for commercials and films to “Mythbusters,” Savage imparted what he’s learned from his career thus far. He began by saying that success is what you want it to be.

Savage said his career may seem successful, but people only see so much when looking at someone else’s life.

“When looking back at a life it’s easy to see them as linear steps,” Savage said. “We love creating narratives, but from the inside everything I've just told you was triage decisions made under duress with imperfect amounts of information I had in the time I've just been describing to you.”

Savage’s list of advice included being kind and easy to work with, taking time to de-stress and investing in relationships. He said that all three of those have gotten him jobs and made his life easier while working.

After the talk, audience members rushed to the Armstrong atrium to meet Savage and get a copy of his new book.

One of those audience members was Troy Jones, a first-year biomedical engineering major. He said he attended because of his love for “Mythbusters,” but enjoyed all of the stories that Savage told.

“It was a little bit different than I was initially expecting,” Jones said. “But he gave a lot of minor insights to things that were very niche that I really liked. For example, like when it came to him working on ‘Star Wars’ I didn't realize the complexities behind the actual designs in the background.”

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Ethan Chapel, a senior robotics engineering major said he was lucky enough to get tickets to the sold-out show through a Makerspace event. Chapel said he immediately called his dad after the talk to tell him what Savage said because they both loved watching “Mythbusters.”

Despite his love for “Mythbusters,” Chapel said he liked the information Savage brought about his career that isn’t as widely known.

“I like how real he was about [his career],” Chapel said. “And he talked about early stages when he could have just talked about Mythbusters for an hour and people would have been fine with that.”