On a recent Thursday night before his comedy show, Zachariah Baird stood hunched over a microscope on Kafe Kerouac’s stage, looking like a mad professor in plaid pants. This is a man who is unafraid to mix protozoology — that’s the study of protozoa, boys and girls — with comedy.
In other words, Baird is the kind of guy you want producing an old-school variety show.
His production chops will be on display May 18 and 19 when theater company Short North Stage presents “A Garden Variety Show” at the recently revived Garden Theater.
Once a popular vaudeville venue in the 1920s, the Garden Theater’s rich history — including stints as a flophouse and a church — informs “Garden Variety.”
“It’s meant to explicitly have the feeling of what it would be like to be in a variety show in the 1920s, if we were showcasing modern-day acts,” said Baird, the event’s emcee.
Joining him will be comedians Mike Kolar and Josh Gandee, poet Nick McRae, and dancers Coco Loupe and Noelle Chun with Noah Demland.
Baird has tried the variety show format before, at former restaurant Dragonfly Neo-V. He said he enjoys finding the right balance between comedy and the show’s other elements.
“How can comedy be used to create smooth transitions between the higher art that’s going to require a little more intellectual thought process?” he said. “By the time they get to the end, what I always like hearing is when people say, ‘It’s over already?’”
Rounding out the entertainment is local experimental pop group Flotation Walls, which is working on its follow-up album to 2009’s “Nature.”
Drummer Luke Brevoort said their new material takes “ideas that are related to the very distant past, primitive things like percussion or unaccompanied human voices and combines those with things that sound really new from the extreme future.”
Donning their signature yellow outfits, Flotation Walls plan to join in the vaudeville spirit.
“There are going to be theatrics involved, but I can’t say what,” said Brevoort.
Shows start at 9 p.m. Pageboy caps are welcome, but check your protozoa at the door.