That's What She Said--An Interview With Eugene Mirman- L Swain
Eugene Mirman just released a new comedy record on Sub Pop called God is a Twelve-Year-Old-Boy With Aspergerâ€™s and itâ€™s funny stuff. One of the problems with being a funny guy is that people always want you to do funny things. No one wants to just sit down with you and ask you mundane questions, but thatâ€™s totally my bag, so, a few days ago I interviewed Eugene Mirman over email. Here it is:
LS: Hi! So, how are those plates selling? If you are willing to sell a plate, what would you not sell with your face on it? While weâ€™re at it, tell me about the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, please. Was it a success?
EM: The plates are sold out maybe, unless there are still some through my site. There might be. I would sell lots of things with my face on it, including â€” hats, a school bus, high-end instant soup, and an artists imagining of Zeusâ€™ penis. And yes, the festival was a success. It was very fun. We had a whole roast pig the opening night, rented a limo to shuttle the audience [One limo! Sounds like quite a crowd! â€“ed.] from the venue to the subway and had lots of great comedians who shined a light onto societies ills and also joked around about sex and drinking.
LS: Sometimes you say hi to me and sometimes you donâ€™tâ€”whatâ€™s the deal with that?
EM: I can be spacey sometimes. Or maybe Iâ€™m trying to be mysterious and doing it wrong. Either way, sorry about that.
LS: I figure people ask you about comedy all the time, and I will later probably, but what interests me more right now is that you are Russian. Thatâ€™s interesting. Tell me about it. I had a Russian boyfriend who moved here in the â€˜80s and he had no friends and was stuffed in the trophy cases at school and stuff. Did that happen to you? Do you speak Russian? On a scale of 1 to 10, how much does being Russian affect your everyday life? Is it affect or effect? Iâ€™m pretty sure itâ€™s affect but now I am doubting myself.
EM: I do speak Russian. I talk to my parents a few times a week. It affects me 2.5 on that scale. In the 80s it probably affected me 4.2. I wasnâ€™t stuffed in a trophy case (I was never good enough), but in elementary school people called me a commie and blamed me when the Russians shot down a Korean airliner. Eventually what started as a youthful disdain of Ruskies transformed into a much broader disdain for me throughout my adolescence. I also was probably [most likely â€“ed.] annoying. It was most likely a destructive cycle that ended sometime around 11th grade. On a side note, a friend of mine recently told me that in third grade our teacher told her to stop being friends with me because I was a loser and as proof showed her my standardized test scores. They were indeed very low. [You canâ€™t be a loser in third grade. It just doesnâ€™t work that way. â€“ed.]
LS: You played a rapist in some schmaltzy TV crime drama. Do you still go audition for parts like that or do you have enough work to not do that anymore? I noticed that you have a night of crime drama comedians at your upcoming festâ€”thatâ€™s funny stuff!
EM: I was not a rapist â€” I was only a suspected arsonist. [Iâ€™m going to have to fire my fact checker. â€“ed.] I donâ€™t really audition for stuff like that very much, and in general donâ€™t really like auditions and try to avoid them (with good success). [So, you pay your bills solely with plate sales? That is amazing! â€“ed.]
LS: Tell me a funny story about each of these people: David Cross, Zach Galifianakis, and Bret and Jemaine? Which one of these is your favorite? Which of these people gets the most dates do you think?
EM: All those people are in relationships (or married!!!!), so they donâ€™t date. However, I bet theyâ€™ve each had sex with at least eight people, which is awesome. It would take too long to tell stories about all of them, but once I know that David Cross, Jon Benjamin and Morgan Murphy got a hotel to let them into Zach Galifianakisâ€™ room by convincing the hotel that Zach was a danger to himself. They were drunk and the convincing took about an hour. [He totally looks like a cutter. Iâ€™m surprised it took it them an hour. -ed.]
LS: I emailed Todd Barry to see if he had any dirt/info on you that I could use for this interview but he never got back to me. What do you think he was doing instead?
EM: He was probably making love to a wonderful woman with a beautiful tattoo. [Doubt it. â€“ed.]
LS: Tell me about the comedy scene in New York. Do you guys hang out a lot and do non-comedy stuff or is it all comedy all the time? Is there somewhere where you guys can be found regularly, like George and Jerry and Elaine at that diner?
EM: We all live in an eight-story brownstone (called a â€œDouble Brownstoneâ€) in Brooklyn and go to see movies, watch each others kids and write television shows and movies. Itâ€™s where most of the major alt-comedy decisions are made. [I think youâ€™re pulling my leg. â€“ed.]
LS: Have you ever played Giggles here in Seattle? If so, did you try the Rita Rudner nachos?
EM: No. And as a result, sadly, no I havenâ€™t tried the nachos. I canâ€™t imagine Iâ€™m missing out on much, or are Seattle comedy clubs known for their amazing Mexican food? [Seattle, in general, is known for its Mexican food. HAR HAR HAR!!! â€“ed.]
LS: What is an average day for you, Eugene? Tell me what itâ€™s like to wake up and be you.
EM: I wake up, finish the second half of a vodka-infused watermelon, give my cat a shot of insulin (he has diabetes), write for an hour, make breakfast, do an interview, and then meet up with friends to work on weird projects. Sometimes I go to a birthday party at the end of the day. [That sounds really nice, except the part about the diabetic cat. That part sounds like a pain. â€“ed.]
LS: VERY IMPORTANT! What kind of shoes do you wear? What kind of ladiesâ€™ shoes are a deal breaker for you?
EM: Shoe shoes. Not sure. [You are trying to tell me that you donâ€™t know what kind of shoes you wear?! For real? What if you wore these?] I donâ€™t have a kind of ladiesâ€™ shoe that I outright have disdain for and wouldnâ€™t feel comfortable making one up. I guess if a woman had shoes with anti-semetic stuff written all over them I wouldnâ€™t date her. [Bingo! â€“ed.]
LS: Were you cool in high school? Did you have a lot of friends? Did you â€œpartyâ€? Did you do drugs? Do you do drugs now?
EM: I wasnâ€™t cool, sorry. I was accepted eventually and had a nice time and friends. I donâ€™t do drugs. I do get a lot of emails from people telling me I must have been really high when I made some video or something and I tell them that I wasnâ€™t, that Iâ€™m just a bit of a weirdo. [What about all the cocaine that comedians do? Do the other guys from the double brownstone just take your portion? â€“ed.]
LS: Did you go to college? Where? What was your major? (If you did not go to college you can make up whatever you want hereâ€¦)
EM: I went to Hampshire College in western Mass. You can design your own major there, so I majored in comedy. [Thatâ€™s kind of like going to college, I guess. â€“ed] I did a one-hour standup act as my thesis. It was actually quite practical since Iâ€™m a comedian now, but at the time grownups thought what I was doing was birdbrained and frivolous.
LS: If you had to live in another American city other than New York where would it be?
EM: It would be in Seattle, Austin, Cape Cod, Boston, or maybe Northampton. Maybe Chicago too?
LS: What kind of candy do you like? Chocolate or fruity stuff? Are you a fan of sour patch candies?
EM: I am more of a savory person [Me too! â€“ed], but yes, I like all those things. I guess Reeseâ€™s Pieces, Butterfingers and Whoppers are some of my favorites. [Butterfingers suck, but otherwise I am right there with you. â€“ed.]
LS: If you had to get a 9-5 job what do you think it would be? Whatâ€™s your skill set? Are you good at computers?
EM: I would be a weird professor or discredited scientist. Would it count if I worked at a company where I made weird stuff and put it on the Internet or is that too close to what I already do? [No. â€“ed.] What if I gave myself more formal hours? [Okay. â€“ed.]
LS: Do you look at the internet a lot? What are some things you look at?
EM: I like Zach Galfianakisâ€™ show Between Two Ferns. I also love Michael Showalterâ€™s show, The Michael Showalter Showalter. I look at some stuff, but not as much as when I temped at an office. I just watched a video Jon Benjamin made called Tech Talk. You can see it here.
LS: Whatâ€™s the best movie youâ€™ve seen this year?
EM: I forget.
LS: Do you watch Mad Men? â€¨
EM: I do. I love it. I am delighted they named a character after me (probably not). [Are you talking about Grandpa/Baby? I had no idea he was named Eugene Mirman! â€“ed]
LS: Who is the most famous person youâ€™ve ever met? Tell me how it all went down.
EM: I think the most famous person I ever met was Robin Williams when he came to the Sub Pop 20th Anniversary comedy show with Bob Goldthwait, and my friend Tony V, because they were shooting a movie in Seattle at the time. [I saw that movie. Itâ€™s pretty good. â€“ed.] But speaking of meeting famous people and Mad Men, I was once outside of the Knitting Factory in New York (after a benefit I did for homeless people â€” because Iâ€™m a really good person) and a guy came up to me and said, â€œHey my name is Jon and Iâ€™m a friend of David Wainâ€™s and Iâ€™m a big fan.â€ And I was like, â€œWait? Jon? Jon Hamm?!â€ And he was like, â€œYes.â€ And I was like, â€œIâ€™m a REALLY big fan of yours! I LOVE your show.â€ It might have spooked him a little. [OH.MY.GOD. Is he as good looking in real life? Do you think heâ€™d let me interview him? If you invited him over do you think heâ€™d come? Did you know there is a Knitting Factory in Spokane??! -ed.] But he was very nice and we talked for a few minutes.
LS: Iâ€™m sure you are working on some new material. Please give me a sneak peek and we can work on it here, together.
EM: I am going to be in Copenhagen in December covering the UN Climate Change Conference for a Seattle-based non-profit called Grist. So Iâ€™m working on that. Iâ€™m trying to come up with titles for the series, so feel free to give me some ideas. [How about â€˜Gettinâ€™ Green with Eugeneâ€™? Or â€˜Eugreen Mirman Reports Live from the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagenâ€™? Or â€˜Reduce, Reuse, Eugeneâ€™? -ed.]
LS: And finally, tell me a story about Megan Jasper, preferably something embarrassing. If you donâ€™t have something you can sub in a dirty or weird dream youâ€™ve had about her or something.
EM: I have a great story about her, but make sure you run this by her, so that people donâ€™t believe she is any less professional because of this. Probably five or so years ago Megan, Robin Taylor, me and a few other friends went to see Wilco and Flaming Lips at Madison Square Garden for New Years. Periodically, as people around us would shout out requests at the bands, and Megan, with an equally enthusiastic voice, would yell, â€œShit in my pussy!â€ Itâ€™s still one of the funnier things Iâ€™ve seen at a concert. I think the next day she ran into some friends of hers that happened to be behind us at the show and had a eleven or twelve year old child with them. I think they thought it was funny, but Megan might have been a little embarrassed. [Megan does this at baby showers, marketing meetings, sporting events, and funerals. Itâ€™s her â€˜thingâ€™. â€“ed.]Tue, October 13, 2009, 1:21 PM