The smart-aleck star of ‘Adam Ruins Everything’ has something to teach us

“Adam Ruins Everything” blends two classic genres: Educational TV (in which wise people like kindly Mr. Wizard or good-natured Bill Nye explain the world) and Smart Aleck TV (in which brash personalities inflict their views upon you, like Rosie O’Donnell at her worst or that Mr. Trump fellow).
The show’s host is Adam Conover, a standup comic who’s had a Web series of the same name on CollegeHumor for a couple of years. Now he’s infiltrating cable via truTV (premieres 10 p.m. Tuesday).

The premise of the show is that Conover uses what the show labels “annoying facts” to correct misconceptions about a topic. To make his points, he lectures us, appears in skits with actors and claymation figures, and interviews real true experts.

Conover is smug and abrasive, as he freely admits. He’s got the Smart Aleck’s requisite smirk, hipster glasses and gelled pompadour. But he turns out to be well-informed, witty and a good teacher. “Don’t say my name in unison,” he tells a classroom of students. “It promotes blind obedience.”

The first episode ponders the concept of “giving.”

People like to donate blood after a disaster, Conover says. But red blood cell donations expire after 42 days. As many as 300,000 pints went to waste after the 9/11 donation surge. Donate year-round, he sagely advises, not just post-disaster.

As for giving clothing to poor countries, he explains that such gestures can backfire, taking business away from local merchants.

Conover’s big reveal: “The one gift that costs nothing to ship and everybody needs, the single most empowering gift ever invented [is] money.”

So you’ll know he’s not just spouting off, the sources for his assertions flash on screen: academic studies, newspaper and magazine articles. Nice touch, except … Adam, I hate to ruin it for you, but there’s one thing you should know: Sometimes journalists get it wrong!