Stamina, Tenacity and Craft with Eugene Mirman


Hey everybody, how’s it going I’m Chase. Welcome to another episode of the Chase Jarvis Live Show
here on CreativeLive. You guys know this show. This is where I sit
down with amazing humans and do everything I can to extract all the valuable stuff out of their brains to help you live your dreams. Whether that’s in career,
in hobby and in life. My guest today is an
amazing stand-up comedian. You definitely know his voice. And he from Bob’s Burgers, my guest is Mister Eugene Mirman in the house
– hello. (theme music) (audience applauding) – We love you! – Hi. – Hi. – Thank you so much. This has been a couple
of years in the making. – Yeah, finally we’re here. – I gotta give a shout out to Meagan. Thank you for introducing us. I had the good fortune of connecting. Well, it’s probably in
Seattle a number of years ago, but I wanna open with a little story. And the story is real simple.
– sure. – It is we’re sitting in Province Town – Yeah. – We’re having lobster
rolls in the summer time. It’s– – Cape Cod. – Yes, up in Cape Cod. It’s just epic weather, perfect day and we’re sitting there, we’re talking and someone walks over, I believe it was even the servers like, “one of you guys sounds just
like Gene on Bob’s Burgers. “Didn’t put your face with your voice.” – Right. – And we kind of each one of us was like, “was it me? was it me?” And of course you opened your mouth and it was shocking to me that, I mean I know you’re human and most people who watch you
on stand-up know your face, but is it weird to have a
voice that is like– (laughing) – I mean– – Is it your best feature? – I mean it’s no honer than anything else. Meaning some people know me from that. Some from you know,
Flight of the Conchords, or Delocated or stand-up and it sort of becomes a mishmosh. – It’s a blender? – But yeah, I mean definitely now a lot of people from Bob’s Burgers, – And McSorely. – Yeah, and people do
hear my voice and go like, “oh that’s weird, you sound like that guy. (laughing) And I’m like, “I am that guy.” (laughing) – Does it ever happen on the phone with customer service like Comcast? – It has not, maybe has.
– (laughing) – I feel like occasionally
at the end maybe somebody will go like, “we’re not supposed to say this. – (laughing) – It’s more like in a store or
something where they’re like, “my boss will kill me,
but I really like you.” I’m like, “why would your
boss be mad?” But anyway. – (laughing) And then like they let
you humor with them. – Yeah, like I would call back angrily and be like, “your
employee said they like me. “I’m furious”
– (laughing) Let’s go early career. – Yes. – So this the show. You know the show we talked about before, but it’s a lot of people
– Yeah. who are aspiring, you know,
they wanna live their passions and they might be locked
up in a cubicle firm somewhere trying to get them out of that or they’re their life long creators or entrepreneurs, that
are trying to figure out their next move and so not
only are you inspirational, but I like to unpack early childhood and help people understand what
it takes to take that step. And you agree, so take me back. – So, well I started stand-up basically the summer after high school. And then I Went to Hampshire College where you can design your own major. So I majored in comedy – (laughing) That’s amazing. – When you’re piecing
together a major like that, you’re sort of just doing
what you think might work. You know, I did stand-up shows at random. There was like a Chinese restaurant there in Hadley Mass where I did stand-up in sort of coffee houses on campus and eventually I ran a weekly show because my thesis, my final project was a one hour stand-up act that I sort of wrote and produced and performed
and it’s funny doing something like majoring in comedy ’cause basically what it turned
out is all the different, like I sent out press releases. Like, I faxed press releases
from whatever computer I had. Which was my first computer
that I had ever had like my senior year. And I didn’t know if it would work. And I just faxed every
newspaper in the area. College papers whatever and regular papers and was like, “there’s a kid doing a “stand-up comedy show as
his major he’s crazy.” – How’d that go? – First of all they printed
little things about it. And then, you know there
was one U Mass paper wrote a story about it and
then the sort of weekly paper, not weekly, daily paper of the area sent a reporter and wrote
a little article about it. And then I was like, “oh my God. “You can tell the press about things and they’ll come and write about it” – (laughing) Note to self. – Yeah, and so when I moved to Boston, I would constantly fax
things to the Boston Globe, and to various radio stations. And then it started
where like there was like a section that was like names and faces. Which was like their kind of like Boston Globe’s celebrity section. And they would start reaching
out and going out like, “what are you reading this summer?” And I remember saying that I was reading, I think it was like, I forget. Wolverine and Kitty Pryde. (laughing) It was some comic that was probably, at that time, 10 or 15
years old, a mini series. And I think they printed it. I think it just said probably, he’s reading Anna Karenina and Wolverine and Kitty Pryde this summer. (laughing) So I did all that stuff and
I always found it easier to start a thing than to
become part of something. I had a weekly show for
a while in Cambridge. In a place called The Green Street Grill. I had a weekly show there and I would hand out like
a thousand flyers for it. And eventually, I had a
show on the third floor of a Chinese restaurant in Harvard Square. The comedy studio which should been a club there for a long time and is now moving, but me and Brendon Small who created home movies and Metalocalypse, and Patrick Borelli who’s
now a writer at Fallon. The three us had this weekly show, But I would just go and
hand out a thousand flyers. What I did largely, was
basically everything I thought you could do to
try to become a comedian. At the time it was the mid, late nineties and comedy had largely
crashed in stand-up. – Because that was was like early Richard Pryor bug stuff, right? – Right, or even like the
eighties had so much stand-up and then as the early nineties approached, there was just sort of
a saturation of tons of people doing, I was just starting, but there was like all these people, wherever you could put a
microphone they’d have a show, but you often wouldn’t have enough comics that could do stand-up well. So it just kind of became
so saturated I think. That it kind of died and
by the time I started, I didn’t have a particular, other than I knew I
wanted it to be a career, I didn’t really have an expectation of this is what it should be, or this is how it would work. And the thing about
Hampshire that was great, what that you would basically set a goal, and then you would just do all the stuff you thought you could try to make it work. And then you would do more of what worked. I would send out more press releases because it turns out
that’s a thing you can do. And then people would write about you, and then they’d send a
reporter to write about a show. So that was sort of the early days and I did that for a while in Boston until eventually moving to New York. – Are you still faxing people? (laughing) seems like faxing was a
big part of (laughing) – I know, it’s true. I am like, “what you guys needs is like a, God what is it? Morse code. Anyway. Telegraph. (laughing) If you had only done
this show in like 1898, you’d have basically
Marc Wayne telling you about how to telegraph newspapers. No, but you’re right. I have said, “the key
to success is faxing.” which is maybe not today’s lesson. But, I guess I see it as, the lesson being just
do 20 different things. – Do more of what’s working. – And then, yes see what works and try different stuff. I think it’s more about having a goal and then trying different ways to just make it happen or get closer to it. I think that if you look at, or for me If I look at
any day or something. I’ll be like, “oh, I
maybe didn’t do anything. Or it feels like I didn’t do anything.” But If I looked at like a week or a month, then I’ll see these things that I sort of did that moved a goal closer. And I think a lot of it is that it’s about just having a
slow, steady, long-term, thing that you’re slowly working towards as opposed to thinking, when people talk about someone’s break or anything like that, that
always seems weird to me because I think of nothing, There’s things that you can
do that are helpful to you, but without it, there’s
probably 20 other things that could have been or might be. – It’s a little bit more
of the daily drum beat. So goal plus daily drum beat. – Yeah. – Did you have a sense
while you were doing that? And plus you’ve been there two concepts that I wanna focus on for a second. One is that you sort of
made your own luck, right? – Yeah. – You had a goal and so it doesn’t happen if you don’t promote it, so you had to find a way to promote it. – Right. – Whether it’s faxing or smoke
signals or whatever modern– – Right, or like there’s no
reason for someone to come to a comedy show of some guy
that they don’t know about or a group of people that
you don’t really know about. So you try to convince them that it was, and then people would come and
then they tell their friends and then it was all that, – Was it lonely and dark and slow? Or was it just a rocket ship. – Well, it wasn’t lonely
in the sense that there was a bunch of comics who around the same time we all had similar type of thesis and goal and when you’re building something from there not being much of an audience. In a sense it only just
slowly gets better. And I did the same thing
when I was in New York. Me and Bobby Tisdale and Holly Schlesinger who is a writer for Bob’s now. And I knew from Boston she booked the show and Invite Them Up that Bobby and I did. And that also took a year
and a half for something to. This is also before social media, so even if someone was gonna
stop by who was popular and people would wanna see, there was largely no way to tell anyone – (laughing) Yeah.
– if they were coming. You know I used to have
like a weekly AOL email that I would send out – (laughing) I love it. – I don’t know If I faxed
press releases in New York. I might have emailed them. At this point I might
have switched to email ’cause that’d probably taken over. – ‘Cause your Hotmail
account is just crackin’? – Yeah, exactly. (laughing) – I think that’s one thing you
need to make your own luck. The folks at home who are just starting or hitting a road bump somewhere. The fact that you were
out there promoting, there wasn’t some fancy machine that’s you sending faxes
or flyers or what not. I think that’s a great take away. Also, you talked about in
a sense it was iterating. You try something if it’s
working you do more of it. If it’s not working you do less of it. Is that across everything? Is that the craft? – I mean, yeah. I guess it just depends what the goal is. Meaning, say the question again. – So you wanna, for
example with promotion, 500 people show up like,
“ahh what did I do?” you’re deconstructing
your success at all times. – Yes, totally, but a
lot of it also is like, I remember when I first, I did this show at the Green Street Grill and somebody from the Boston Phoenix, which was to me like
the paper I grew up with as a kid, it was like the
Village Voice of Boston. And somebody came and they
wrote a story about it, and I was like, “oh my God. Here we go. “This is now.
– Now I’m crackin’ “Finally there is a story in the paper “about this fun comedy
show that I’m doing.” And I remember the following week four people came as a result of that. There was maybe like eight total, but four from the paper and
then four that were friends. And I was like, “oh I see this is not, this is all a very long, slow. So you sort of have, to me, was a success. Which is this article, this write up. – Mainstream. – But then I photocopied that article and put it with a little flyer and would hand that out and
you sort of do what you can. But I definitely remember being like, “now this is the thing and that its like– – This is my big break. – And then it’s like, “oh nothing is.” – Crickets. – And everything, if you
think of whatever comics who are on a show that’s like from 10, 15, 20 years
ago and you think of it as the biggest thing and then some shows stay forever with people and some don’t. So it’s sort of this continuous thing. I think when you free lance, you believe in a sense that
everything can all apart. And I don’t know that that
feeling ever leaves you. – (laughing) At all. – Even if it’s like, fine, and by all observation you’d be like, “well that’s a crazy thought.” I definitely have friends who I’m like, who in my head I’m like,
“you’re wildly successful. “How could you possibly be like anxious “about something changing?” And It’s like, “oh I guess it’s
just forever, that anxiety.” – I wonder if that’s a human, is that people like that become
creators and entrepreneurs. Or is it when you’re a
creator and entrepreneur and you’ve had the rug yanked out from under you a couple of times. You start living– – Right, yeah. I don’t know. – Observation. – Yeah. – I don’t know my comedy
genre as well as I should. It’s all funny to me, but you– – That’s the next time of my album (laughing) – But you, I read this
once, observational comedy? Is that right? – Sure, meaning like omedy? – You bring in shit that
you find in the world. – Oh that’s, yeah, I mean, I
don’t know what you’d call it. And I will say that partially it’s because when I was in college there
wasn’t a stand-up scene. There was just, I ran a show, but I would just ask
anyone I thought was funny to tell a story or do something. I would basically try stuff
in front of whatever audience. And some of it was jokes, like a sort of straight up joke. And sometimes it would be a letter, and sometimes it would
be some weird thing. And basically if it made
people laugh I would keep it. And if it didn’t, I would try to change it or get rid of it. And so it was that sort
of trial and error thing. But then as a result, a lot of my act is here’s a letter I wrote, or heres a weird thing I did, of I recorded this– – Sorry (laughing) – That’s okay. (laughing) So yeah, it’s become
a range of everything, from here’s an observation
or here’s a story, here’s an anecdote and then
here’s some weird internet, not prank, but sort of bit. Like, I made a LinkedIn profile, or I did this but then I really do it. Or here’s a calendar I made of paintings. Or I tried at some point to get paintings into a Whole Foods near my house because they said they were gonna partner with local artists and so, I made a bunch of paintings
and the closest I got was when I got to perform
that bit on Seth Myers. And then that like
escalated how close I was. And they had set a meeting, and then it clearly fell away. Like they definitely did not wanna put my stuff up next to the broccoli. (laughing) But it was very close to being discussed. And I kind was like, “well I “mostly wanted to make the joke– – More than that– – Well, I would be very
happy to have had it. And I had a lot of people being like, “will you put the paintings
up at our cafe or gallery?” And I was like, “no, no,
no, I really just want “them at this Whole Foods. “That’s sorta the joke.” But anyway. – Well, what about the LinkedIn profile? ‘Cause I think I’ve
heard that bit. Tell me. – Yeah, so that was basically, and it’s funny once I think
I did it on a special. Then LinkedIn was like,
“no you can’t, actually. – So that’s the terms of service – But I basically wrote that
I was the VP of PP of Verizon. When you’re filling it out, the little drop down thing’s like, do you mean this Verizon? Like the official Verizon? and I was like, “yes.” And so as a result, for two
years or whatever it was, I would get a lot of like, “join this organization
of Vice Presidents.” And here’s other offers for you. And they’d all be kind of within my area of various Vice President
and similar roles that they would be pitching me and I imagine recommending me to whatever company
where Pfizer’s is like, “I don’t know. Oh, the Vice President
of VP from Verizon.” “He would be perfect to run.” – Give me some more examples of that. I’ve heard the LinkedIn one. – So I took out Facebook ads at one point – That’s the one that I saw. Okay, that’s so good. – Yeah, yeah, yeah, so I took out ads because you could just target. You can go like, ” I want people who like “hockey and Belle and Sebastian.” (laughing) And then you could put
some really weird ad. And then here’s the funny thing. You can also direct. I don’t know if this is still true. I did this what? five years ago. So you could at that time
direct them to any website. So you could be like, “I want this weird ad ‘Go Hockey Fans'” And then sends then to CNN, or sends them to the White House or a page or your website. Whatever, you could put it anywhere. I don’t know if that is still the case. – I think it is. – I guess the assumption is no one will– – Spend their money on– (laughing) – Spend their money on
ads for other people. But it also is very fun
to play around with. And depending on how you do it, so you could be either
charged with people seeing it or charged I think by clicks. And if you just do it where you don’t care if anyone clicks on it, you just want it to appear. You can really reach a lot of people. (laughing) It’s very easy to reach
thousands of people, as long as clicking isn’t
what you’re going for. As long as you don’t wanna be
fully effective with your ad. (laughing) – While you’re paying for
the ad to go to someone else. – Yeah, or whoever. – You could spend a lot of money– – I can’t remember what I sent people to. I think at times it was my site, but at times it was just whatever I thought would be funny
and related to the ad. – Is that your primary source of comedy? – It’s a mix of that and anecdotes and yeah, things like it. Things that sort of
interact with the world, Oh yeah, you know what it was. The reason I did the Facebook thing. So a lot of it is triggered by something. So the reason I did a Facebook thing is, I can’t remember if this
was when my cat had died or before my cat had died, but basically ads possibly
before started popping up for cat cremation service at your home – (laughing) Oh my God. – Or sort of cat funeral,
pet funeral stuff. I think that it was meant that
they would come to your home and take, I don’t know. They way that they presented it is that they will come to your house and burn your cat. (laughing) Is definitely how it is
confined messaging read. And so I was like, “how does this happen? “What have I been looking up? “Or has it just over heard?” This is also several years ago when I think the idea that– – Facebook is listening to you. – You’re talking into your phone, or is the beginning of your talking and it picks up you constantly going, “oh no my cat is dying.” And then it’s like, “I
got something for you. “we’ll come to your house
and we’ll burn your cat.” (laughing) And so that, and then
LinkedIn similarly was like, tons of, for whatever reason I think either people I knew or something. Or I would constantly get these requests.
– LinkedIn updates. – Like I think probably people putting it in their address book in or something. And I was like, “I’m not
putting my resume up.” And then finally I was like, “fine.” – I’m gonna put up my resume. – I will join LinkedIn and I then through and did all the stuff. I was like, “oh, you can
write anything you want. “This is a lot more fun than I thought because I’m not trying to get a job. – So, we’re at a 90 degree turn here. Part of comedy of course, there’s the laughing
part, there’s the joy. I’ve seen you do Kareokaides
it’s pretty entertaining. What about the hard parts of comedy? I think there’s so much
comedic genius that comes. It’s a topic in our culture, that it comes from a lot
of pain, a lot of struggle. What sort of connection
do you have with that? And, or what should the folks at home who don’t understand that, help bring some insight to the– – I mean, I think that it’s– – The comedy tragedy
or I don’t know what– – Yeah, I don’t know. I mean that’s funny. – Help us understand it. Cause I consider myself an outsider to the comedy scene, I love it, I appreciate the craft and I see the connection between pain. – Well I think that it comes out, everyone’s comedy is from some
version of their experiences. And how they sort of process it. So I think that I do
some stuff that’s sort of about personal things
or starting to do things that come from tragedy. But also even the sort of angry
letters I write or whatever. It’s all about your
frustration or whatever it is. And there’s some comics who are like, I don’t know if you’ve seen
Patton Oswalt’s last special. It’s wonderful and he
talks about his wife dying and a lot of it is very, very funny and very touching and very sad. But I think that it’s just to every comic there’s whatever inspires them. So some people are particularly
good at reframing pain or processing it through
the funny parts of it. And there’s funny, all of it. Like Paul Tomkins has a really funny story about his mom’s funeral. So everybody has– – Their muse or the thing– – Yeah, they’re thing and some people do more
of that some do less. I don’t know that
everyone’s tortured per se. I mean, everyone has tons of sad things and some people turn that into comedy. But some people a lot like Steven Wright or like Emo Philips, they do incredible one liners and I wouldn’t be like, “those guys’ feeling is sadness.” – (laughing) that’s why I’m asking, right? Because it seems like
I don’t know if comedy over indexes on tragedy
or over indexes on pain and I’m hearing you don’t think it does. – I mean, I think– – Culturally I think that’s the concept– – Right, but that’s
because the idea that idea that comics are sad is ironic. And the idea that firemen or
lawyers are sad nobody cares. – Firemen are poignant and strong– – There’s so much water around
you and yet I don’t know. So I think that– – Well, that’s great. This is helpful. – And also each person can assume what ever comedy they like. So, If you’re someone who really likes very personal or intimate
comedy, you could do that. If you like sort of silly stuff you can. And some comics are a mix of it all. – Sure, that’s range. That’s like range in acting or range in– – Yeah, and some people, like in acting they’ll do lots of different characters. And some people are just very good at a kind of similar person, but emulate different emotions. – Is it too inside baseball
to talk a little bit about when you were talking
about reading for Bob’s, that there’s this other layer of — – That’s for them to animate. No, I’m happy to describe. I mean, I only saw it once, but I’m happy to describe it. – Yeah, I’m fascinated by, of course and it makes sense now that you’re talking about it, but it’s a thing that I
have never heard before. And that’s part of what
I wanna do in the show is take people on a like, ” what? “There’s someone who
thinks about mouth shape, relative to sound?” Of course there is, right? – Yes, so we go in and record. So, I’m generally actually in Boston, but sometimes in L.A. or New York, but we record on an ISDN line, all of us at the same time on Wednesdays. And we record together
and we get to improvise, and then we do the scene as written, but then, and I just saw
this for the first time, they sort of showed the break down. It takes about 9 to 12
months to make an episode. And they have– – 9 to 12 months! – Yeah, so they I think, do this very rough sketching. they basically break down every syllable. To one of the aid of mouth shapes and then they write it out and you kind of have every
noise that’s being made and it’s in the number that
correlates to the mouth shape and they do that for the whole episode. So, it’s this crazy detailed thing. I’m sure that if someone
know how animation is made they’re like, “yeah
that’s how you make it.” But I had not seen it and I was here. Because I mostly don’t record here– We’re in L.A. for this- – Yeah we’re in L.A. as you can tell. Mmm
– mmhm Enjoy the city scape behind us. You can hear the fire engines and the hot cars and annoyances but. – So yes, it’s this kind of neat, but very, very involved process. I mean again I saw it for the first time. There was much more but
it was pretty incredible. – Can you do the eight mouth shapes? – I don’t know. I probably have just
now with what I’ve said. (laughing) So just pause this. Other than maybe the ZZZZ. – Or O. – OOOO. (laughing) – Yeah, I hope it’s A some
animator being like, “it’s nine” – Dude, it’s nine. I can’t believe you totally thrown it. – But if it is eight, wow! – He’s throwing me under the bus here. – Wow. You really remembered
that from that one time? Seems reasonable. – Go back to the source of your comedy, pop culture, you tell me. What do you consider your source? – I mean, I consider it
experiences and there’s a certain, the thing about pop culture
which I’m sure I reference. I think it’s more like I had a bit about banner ads on MySpace. And it was basically that they would create these very divisive ads, but the goal is just
for you to click on it. They didn’t care what you thought
about the thing of course. And the concept make sense. And it’s funny because
MySpace has gone away. So I think that to me– – Ads? – Ads have not, sorry, but meaning, I’ll have
references to a thing. That you’re like, “oh,
that’s not a thing anymore.” I mean not that you can’t get it, but meaning, I probably wouldn’t be doing a bit about MySpace now. Even though it’s really
about broader advertising. So in terms of pop culture, I am sure I have plenty of references, but I think because there’s elements of it that are fleeting, I try often not to too much. Or something that’s so in
everyone’s consciousness that who could forget the A-team? And the answer is probably
anyone born after 1998. (laughing) – Alright so, process, I’m
obsessed with people’s process. And you talked about
in college your thesis was an hour long stand-up routine. Take us into your process. Whatever the out put is. Let’s not do anything about Bob’s Burgers ’cause that’s just voice, you’re reading somebody else’s lines. That’s of course, your
craft in and of itself. Let’s talk about stand-up. – Sure. – So, what’s Eugene Mirman’s
process for stand-up? – I mean, it’s sort of having an idea. And then sometimes it’ll be, especially these bits like
LinkedIn or something. Though again that’s
maybe a little simpler. But somethings where I’ll have an idea and then slowly over a period of months, I’ll be like, “oh, maybe
I could try it that way, or this way, or do this
sort of thing with the ads.” With the Facebook ads I think
I tried different versions of, and you try to pack as many jokes in and then trim it if it doesn’t work. So at first you have, okay well, you can write this funny ad, you can direct it at someone, you can have it go to
a website or whatever. But then you kind of find like, “oh, is that too many things?” It’s more funny to read
the ads than it is to have four other jokes on each one. So there’s sort of this trial and error. But even to come up with it, or what you might do. I also started taking screen grabs of actual laughs they
had to sort of set up. This is the set up. This is what they do. And then if those also, do
you read one, two, three. You do as many as are funny
and then stop and then move on. So I think that a lot of my process is. You have the thing that
you know is funny to you and then you have to figure out how to make it funny to people. And I’ve certainly had jokes where, So, a friend of mine told me that when we were in elementary school that a teacher of ours told
her to not be my friend because I was a loser which is awesome. So it took me a very long time and I was like, “well
that’s really funny.” But when you say it on stage people either kind of laugh because it’s horrifying or it’s sort of like,
“well, what’s the joke?” you just gave us what is
obviously sad information. And it’s also funny. And it took me a really long time to figure out how to turn this thing that I thought was a wonderful piece of sad, funny information
into an actual joke. So, a lot of it is time
and trial and error. And you have these ideas and then– – Are you writing these things? – Yeah, I write them on my computer. But it’s funny sometimes I’ll go back and see the joke written out and it’ll be a little more rebose or it’ll have four more
things that are kind of funny. They don’t seem as conversational or it starts to to feel a little
written or jokey or forced. But ill try to go back and re-write it and have it all written down. – And then how per script is
getting super, super heavy. So you got an idea. My fourth grade teacher told Sally to not be friends with
me ’cause I was a loser. So you write that down. That’s like the kernel of the idea and then are you just like– – And then you try to figure out what’s the joke part of that. How do you turn it? And again LinkedIn. So there’s the section where
you can write in your skills. Each of these things has different little sections and things. And you adjust it. Here’s five skills and you read them out. Does that make people laugh? Well, three of them do two don’t. Okay, let’s switch two skills out. Oh, it turns out reading
more than four skills in a row that’s the cut off and then you can move on to
what where your previous jobs? – And are you testing
these on your friends? – No, no on an audience. You test it all on an audience. Or I don’t try jokes out on my friends You’re trying to see if
it’ll work at a club. – Right, different environment. Well you’re saying this
like it’s so obvious too and I love– – No, no, no, no. No, I know I think people have– – You have to take all your crap and air it on stage every time. – I think so. Sorry, when I say that, what I mean is some people definitely do try their jokes, tell their jokes to each other or comics or friends. Especially if I have a thing
where I’m holding something up. And a lot of that stuff also shows often when I hold up the ads or whatever it is. It’s mostly to just show that it’s real. I know that people can’t
really see it per se, but they get that it’s a real thing I do. And so, I think that that
helps the authenticity of “oh, I really think he did do this “or did make these paintings.” – Yeah, you’re flipping pages on stage. – You’re holding up paintings and they get that I really
did make these paintings and genuinely reached out to Whole Foods. Then that sort of thing. – So you’re writing these jokes out and then how do you
know what 20 minutes is? Are you practicing in the mirror? – What does it matter? Meaning, so it matters if
you’re doing it on television. In terms of you need five
minutes or 60 minutes or whatever it is. So then you need to know that everything, but also stuff’s edited. For whatever reason, in fact I
think my last Netflix special was a little over 60 minutes. So, you can do whatever. Especially now that it’s changing, but mostly what you try to do is make it continuously funny more than, If I have 20 minutes, great. The problem isn’t I made
people laugh for 20 minutes, I need to only make them
laugh for 10 minutes. – Yeah, you made them laugh way too long. – Yeah, that was to much
they really enjoyed it. Really you try stuff and
for me I know that I have, some of it is sort of unconventional. But often it is basically
still setting up a punch line. I think people think of, I’m still going like here’s the premise. I made a fake resume. Here’s my fake resume. I took out an ad, secure the ads and so you have this one premise and then you have seven jokes. And some of them are about the ad itself, some of them are about it. So, it’s sort of just like a dead spin. – And you’re talking about being able to practice on front of audiences. You have an audience in the laundry room and you can just walk in there and– – There’s in most major cities, certainly in New York or
Boston and L.A. or wherever, Are lots of comedy shows that happen in the back rooms of various places and some are better than
others and you can find them. The ideal show to me, is
a show where the audience, one when you’re trying stuff out. It’s basically, they
probably paid a small amount, if its not funny they won’t laugh, but they won’t be mean about it. – There’s an understanding there. – There’s an understanding. You’re in there to try stuff
and this is sort of fun. And you can fail. You don’t wanna perform in a room where people are just kind of
laughing, which is rear. People will generally not laugh
at a thing that’s not funny. But some places they’ll
be very mean about it. This sort of you don’t
wanna fight drunks verbally. (laughing) It can’t be a room that
you can’t get sense of whether your joke works or not. – And so on the comedian
side they’re like, “oh you gotta go play at a Frank’s club because it’s a great audience. So that’s like– – Yeah, yeah, yeah, if
you have a very fun show, in whatever city, people will totally wanna stop by and perform there. I mean, that’s a thing that is good. Meaning, in the shows that I did various times with various friends, the goal is to build up a show where comedians would
like to go and perform at. And then the audience will come or both. They’ll each come to each other. – Without faxes. – You don’t even have to fax. Well now, yeah you can Instagram fax. – Insta fax. Okay, so let’s talk in terms of some successes and some failures. – Sure. – ‘Cause there’s a lot of fear around putting your self out there and bombing and people are always also curious about sometimes what felt
wildly successful to you and things people didn’t know. Or was it obvious sometimes
you win a big award, of course that’s a big
failure a big success. But talk to me a little bit. I wanna cover both ends of the spectrum ’cause I think that… – Right – Comedy is an esoteric thing relative to building a company or
designing a whatever. But there’s craft and that’s why we’re sort of trying to unpack
comedy successes and failure. – Well, in terms of stand-up, you know you can always
fail like on stage, meaning especially if you’re trying stuff. But that also in just environments. I’ve toured with bands
where sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s a real sort of battle. And that’s largely sort
of at the beginning of my career in New York. You sort of do what you can. So I did a tour with Modest Mouse. Some of the shows were
awesome and then some, there was one in Miami
that was just disastrous. And it was like a woman
sort of heckling me in really weird specific ways. Where it was someone, she
was basically trying to convey Ayn Rand’s philosophy without having known that it was that. She just trying to distract me and saying that she was
lived a selfish life. She was trying to get the band on earlier. It was just super weird and then also the room was insanely hot and it was just chaos and it’s terrible but on the other hand
there was other shows like Jacksonville that
were really, really fun. But you kind of put yourself in whatever. You just have to do whatever it is that will get you to the
place where you’re a comedian or you’re whatever you wanna be and– – Is it small failures like having jokes completely flop on a regular basis that’s sort of builds
up a muscle where you’ve become inoculated against it? – Or if you do it. I’ve probably done stand
up for 20 something years. I don’t know that you have a joke. You either have a joke
work kind of or not work. You can be working it out and then it repeatedly sort of doesn’t. You would never have, not never. You largely wouldn’t have
the same exact thing not work because you would change it and what you could have is a joke that almost always works
and for whatever reason, whatever the environment is it doesn’t, But that’s pretty rear. I did a tour a few years ago
with Flight of the Conchords. And those are playing much bigger venues and I remember people being like, “oh, do you have a different
act for these shows?” As if I have one act that destroys in front of 10 thousand people and I refuse to do it
for any smaller rooms. So it’s like, “no I have
the thing that works.” And depending on the environment or if you’re in a very
hot place or whatever, there could be things
that will kind of throw it and you have jokes that
work better and that works. But largely, if a thing
works, it kind of works. But to get it to that place you definitely go to these various other shows and you try stuff and you
completely might fail. Or more often than failing, what you’d have is, especially with bits where I’m
like holding up five things. I have four that are funny
and one or two that aren’t. And then you kind of
– you flow you could feel it. – You cut those and then
you switch them out, so there’s that process. – So is it word for word
when you walk out there? How much is, “I’m definitely
doing these three things “and I know I’m gonna
do these three things.” Versus, obviously you’re trained in professional improv comedian as well. How much of that is– – I mean when you have a joke that works, it is sort of word for word kind of. With often the same pauses
and affectations essentially. And then some things do sort of change. It depends, like often
for me, if I have a bit where I’m holding up
things or saying a thing, sometimes the preamble to
that might be different. And that sort of stuff – Contextual for Miami
or something like that. – And It might work better and worse. Meaning, part of me is like, “oh, I wish “I did have a consistent thing.” But also sometimes it makes it funnier and it makes it more organic to have a setup that’s not as set in
stone as the rest of the bit. – Yeah, so is the Miami
show with Modest Mouse your worst experience ever on stage? – No. – Talk about just a dive on– – I mean meaning, sorry that was terrible. – How do you mean? Oh. you meant terrible. Oh, yes it qualifies. – There’s lots. There’s a– – And I know we’re trying no
to think about it too much, but I’m trying to help the focus and help them say, “yeah, it’s okay to–” – No, no, no, there’s lots of, meaning when you do standup, I mean there’s years of
(interviewer talks over guest.) for Conan in like ’99
probably in New York. I lived in Boston and came here and definitely bombed
and someone heckled me and it was like I hadn’t been on TV and it was sort of like this
might be my chance to be on TV. And it went terribly. And then of course, the
producers, very nice, was like, “well, that didn’t go, but we’ll have you back
and look at you again.” That’s the thing about sort
of this notion of breaks. And I remember when I got Conan. Asking the producer like why? And it was this sort of
thing where I got a call, but was like I had been out of this thing for like maybe a year and a
half or something for them. And then I got a call that was like, “we might need you on Friday.” And it was a Monday and I was like, and I lived in Boston
and I was like, “sure.” and they were just like,
“practice your set.” And then I remember they
called and they were like, “we do. We need you, we’ll bring you down It was like a guy at the airport met me with a sign with my name on it. It was incredible and
I remember being like, “why do you need me?” – Why do you need this – Right now? Like Friday? – Well, like why do you need a comic to come from Boston to do this thing and they were sort of like, “we’re just as excited to find you as you are to be on the show.” And I made me sort of
realize that it was like, oh yeah, they’re out looking for people. If you have five minutes that are funny that you can do on television, you’ll probably be on television
to do those five minutes. It makes sense for everyone involved. – Was there a point where you had to put yourself out there where you went from just being in small clubs and doing that till you had
to decide to shift gears? Or was it very organic, you
keep stepping up in the ranks? – I had thought originally
that I was gonna live in Boston and I would move to New York
once I got a job in New York. And then it became
increasingly clear that, that’s not a thing. That you can’t get a job in comedy, not you can’t but it would be unlikely. I certainly know people
who have in fact done it. So yes. So I think at some point. Here’s another great failure. I remember getting hired to write. This would have been my
first writing job ever. It was to write for some show, I think on VH1 maybe. And being so excited,
you know it was probably 2000, 2001, very broke, very excited and then I went after I got the job to get sushi somewhere. It was forty dollars which was definitely a percentage of my net worth. A calculable percentage. I was like, “this is awesome and then the next day there was an article about how all these executives from basically MTV and VH1 had been let go, show
went away, everything was gone And then I was like, “oh, I see,” That was a fun job that almost happened. And then you sort of realize how it’s like everything can always fail. – I want a little bit more
on that last question. So you have to ultimately
decide that you’re gonna put yourself out there – Yes. – And you have to throw your hat in the ring for the next level. Are there a series of levels? And again, we’re talking about comedy, but this is really about… – Levels. – Yeah, about everything in life. You have to decide that
you want the thing. And how proactive have you been with that? Or yeah you’re just like,
– well so, I think that I’ve decided
“the magic carpet weee. – Oh, I see. I would say
that I guess one thing that was probably
convenient for me is that since I was a kid I decided
that I wanted to do comedy. So I’ve always basically,
slowly worked towards that. But if I hadn’t had that, I don’t know. Maybe it would be very hard. So for me, I at some point, I spoke at my college
at Hampshire graduation now five years ago or however many and this was actually,
I did some interview. This is the thing I said where people. Sorry terrible story teller. Basically somebody asked me what my back up plan
was at a college event. And I said that I believed a back up plan was the first step toward
failure. (laughing) And I think of that a
little tongue and cheek. But do I do think that there’s an element of that, that’s true. And again, it accounts for you, for many years I didn’t
have any health care until eventually I could get it through free lance or whatever. So partially I could this because I happen to not get sick in my twenties. But there’s obviously things
that will set you back or change the course of your
life that can’t be controlled. But shy of those sorts of things, I had always kind of been
like I wanna do comedy. So in terms of stepping
up to the next level, I didn’t have another thing
I could do or wanted to do. And I think at each age I was fine with whatever I had. I lived for a long time
in a studio apartment. Meaning you can really
scale down your life to a point where you’re
like, “this is fine.” And then at some point you’re
like, ” this is madness. But then to me those things happen that stages where I would find work. So I would write close to breaking. Somebody would be like, “you wanna make a bunch of web videos?” I’d be like, “yes, very much.” Or like getting an agent. when I first got a booking agent. That helped me go from I didn’t exactly know
how I could make money. But now I could make 150 dollars a day. Not everyday, but enough
days that I could cover rent. So there’s that. So I don’t know if there’s
as much of a stepping up, the biggest thing to me was moving to New York City which I was terrified of. – Yeah, do you think that’s a requirement in this day and age now with the web. And is there still absolute pockets that if you’re trying to, and again were talking about comedy, but its like universally if you wanna be in fashion you go to Milan. If you wanna be in show
business you go to Hollywood. – Well, I think it
depends now with a phone. A phone is better film equipment than I had through out
college, through out life. – Until two weeks ago. (laughing) – So I think it just depends. What can you do? Early on I made a website with an office mate of mine
in Boston Scott Barris who was a designer and
we took a photo of me from when I was four in Russia and it was black and white. It looks like it’s from the 1930’s. And I sang and pitched a bunch of classic rock songs
in a really silly way. And then he animated the mouth and that was the late nineties And that went sort of viral to the point at which Pete
Townshend from The Who emailed me and was like,
“I love your Who medley “and I put it up my site.” And I sort of was like, ” I
don’t know what I was trying to “do those website, but
it definitely worked.” And I also had made these little videos that also would go around and
they were like one megabyte. This is before YouTube, so it’s
like ’98, ’99, two thousand. And those would sort of circulate. So I did that in Boston because that’s what was within my means. A lot of it was literally me talking into a camera saying, silly stuff as different
characters, making this website. So in that sense, you could do whatever and you can whatever is in your means. And if you can stay in Boston, now I’m back in Boston. The reason I’m can be back home is because now I’ve created a career
where I don’t have to be in a specific location
and that’s my situation. I definitely couldn’t have done it without living in New York for 17 years. So, I don’t know. So, you do or you don’t have
to go to New York or L.A. I think if you wanna be a comedian it would help to move to New York or L.A. for 10 to 20 years. – Just to put a little time work on it. (laughing) – I mean it depends what you want. But I know people who live
in Texas and have a career. It just depends what you want. What you enjoy doing. – But there’s clearly a scene
that you have to be apart of. Right? Don’t you think? Is there a thing or is that still– – I mean, it’s just depends. – I call it a community ’cause
a scene sounds too trendy. – Yes, I think being part
of a comedy community, certainly I was and remain
part of a comedy community. Yeah, I think that that’s really helpful. But again, I think it’s
whatever works for you. So if you have a way… Personally, I think in terms of comedy, if you’re a comedian who can get on stage and kill for 45 minutes you’re just going to be a professional comedian. Someone will want to
put you on television. They will want to have you do
a show with them or whatever. And admittedly you need
to be seen by people who would put you in those positions, but if you become, then yeah you have to come to L.A. or New York for whatever period of time,
the more people you meet. But it’s like any job or
any thing in life sort of. You have to make inroads with people, but its much more about being good at the thing you do personally. – You can meet a lot of people, but if you don’t got the
craft it’s not gonna stick. – Right, and I think it is much more about tenacity and craft. I feel like people sort
of talk about talent, but I think there’s people
who you see are like, “oh, that person is gifted
at music and impressions.” and all these things and that is clearly helpful, but a lot of it I think
is really just tenacity and there’s plenty of people who are huge. Who are like mediocre when they started. And then just really,
they do 10 shows a night and they just get better and
better and better over years. And admittedly that’s also
someone who has the time to do that and what put them in that situation, I don’t know. – Or they create the time
for themselves to do that. – Right, right. But I mean it means they, the people I’m thinking of
as before they have children. – Ate Ramen and lived in it. – Yeah, or had four
roommates or whatever it is. I mean and now also in
some places like New York maybe is particularly expensive. But I think L.A. and other cities, you can totally live outside of New York in a place that you
can go do comedy shows. – So, I wanna talk a
little bit, shift gears. This has all been about craft and about sort of career and career arch and managing all that stuff. Let’s talk about personal. You referenced being born in Russia. – Yes. – And what impact do you think that has had on you personally or
relative to your career? Anything, extreme positives
or negatives how do you?– – I mean, I think it makes me, in certain ways very optimistic. I think that I have a very genuine belief in the American dream. I think of it as very
practical and reasonable. Which I think also is helpful only in the, even if I’m wrong the belief
that you can do a thing is probably so helpful to doing the thing. So I think it’s had that kind of impact. And then also it created
for a traumatized childhood. In terms of being the Cold War and growing up with Russia as the enemy. – Were you overtly the
Russian kid at school? – Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like in sixth grade I remember being blamed
for when the Russians shot down the Korean, or
maybe it was third grade, shot down a Korean airliner. And definitely kids were like, “you shot down a Korean airliner.” And I was like, “I didn’t,
but why are you threatening me “if you think I shot down an airliner?” But yeah, there was a lot of that kind of thing of people thinking I was a commie, even though I really don’t like communism because I’m one of the people that left. – Yeah, clearly I’m here. – Yeah, so there was
tons of that growing up. – Any detail you care to share
about the leaving Russia? – You know, I was four.
– You were like four . Has back your bag parents or– – Yeah, I think that yeah,
my parents were like, “we should get out of here.” I think Russia is a some version of anti sematic and communist and I think it just makes
for a bummer of a time. Is the feeling I get. – Actual Moscow, right? Is that where you guys were? – We were from Moscow, yeah. And I haven’t been back. And I’ve wanted to and I wanna go and hopefully at some point I will. My experience of coming
here was mostly the… I don’t remember Russia,
I mostly remember here. – Do you still feel a connection there? You said you wanted to go back,
but is there inherit danger? – I think it would be interesting – Yeah, I feel a connection like I speak Russian to my parents and to
some Russian friends and stuff. Mostly because I’d be curious
because it’s a country that I feel half tied to and
half don’t know at all. – And has that in any way,
is that material for you. I haven’t really heard you
use any of that material. And is it a reason that
you’re not tapping into that or you’re just not– – Well no, meaning I
think I’ve maybe mentioned or told stories, I don’t know. There isn’t a reason. Meaning the reason
would be if I thought of a funny thing, I would
certainly if I thought of jokes involving the Cold War, from my experience as a kid or obviously Russia is in the news now. So it’s like I easily could do something. My reason for not doing anything is basically that I don’t have any thing particularly funny and that I thought of. – You were four, right? – Yeah, and I feel like
I’ve referenced it. And I’ve certainly actually like, Or actually I say that
I haven’t done anything, but I played a sort of goof ball, Russian hit man slash stand-up comic on Delocated on Adult Swim. So that’s totally a use of all that. Meaning I spoke Russian on the show and there’s other things where I’ve done a sort of Russian accent. So yeah, so I’ve used it that way. But I haven’t done I
guess regular stand up. – Was there any particular event besides getting picked on, or blaming the shooting
down of an airliner, anything else that really
impact your career, you feel like or is it just a bunch of small, like the same things
that we’ve all experienced? – I think that it’s largely
the way that everyone feels that junior high
wasn’t a great time. So I think my version of that is that there was a lot of Cold War stuff. So it was like whatever
goes into being a weird kid and at some point also
probably it went from oh that kid is a Russian commie to that’s just a weird
kid and I don’t like him. And who know knows, I may
have also been annoying. It’s probably a whole mix of everything. I feel like as I got older
and everyone got older, it’s just like everybody’s experience. Most people I know, things got much, much better for them around tenth,
eleventh, twelfth grade. – Start to get under
you skin a little bit. – And I think people
are just a little older and like, “wait, I
shouldn’t be a monster.” “Why do I keep hitting
that person in the face? “Or pushing them?” Or whatever. – Clearly, there’s a
pattern with your answers that there’s a lot of
different paths, right? – Right. – And I think you’re
wisely reluctant to ascribe any amount of success to a
particular set of behaviors. There’s a lot of luck involved, there’s your past history, What is a consistent
thing you feel like has, was it just declaring that
you wanted to be a comic. Was it just relentless
and ruthless effort toward the thing that you cared about? Was it all of these things? None of these things? – I think it’s all that stuff. I think that, to me luck is the part where you’re physically able
to accomplish these things. When I first lived in Boston, I worked at an ice cream parlor and I temped at Fidelity at one point. When I was temping at Fidelity I was answering phones and
I would basically do it for two or three days and then
call in sick the other days because my rent was two
hundred sixty three dollars. So I was kind of like,
“alright well I made that and I can make 80 dollars
from my comedy show. And that’s basically the
money I need for whatever, a week or something. And so a lot of it was just, you just had the bare
minimum of what you needed and then you could do the thing. And also I was 20 something
and that seemed fine. A mattress on the ground seemed great. – Great! I got a place to sleep. – Who needs a frame? And then at some point I was like, “oh my god I need a frame! “I’m 29 years old.” – I think box springs are overrated. I don’t know, maybe that’s
a thing of the past. – But yeah I think that,
that sort of thing aside. Yeah I think it’s just consistently
working towards a goal. Basically within whatever
is within your means. So, that included for me
making a weird website, making videos putting them online, handing out flyers,
handing out press releases. All while trying to be good at comedy. All while trying to, when you came to the show being like, “oh, this is fun.” “This is a great way to spend an evening.” – How about the people around you? Did you find that people
around you were supportive? Did you have to seek those people out? Were there people that were
haters and you had to avoid? – I mean largely, its a
very supportive community. And I also find the idea that comedy is competitive or something. And I imagine most fields. To me not at all the case. Where basically I’m not
up for the same thing. And certainly if you’re
making your own thing. No one’s up for your stand-up. If I’m doing stand-up and I can do a good job and that’s fine. But yeah, I will say I remember
meeting Bobcat Goldthwait early on he was very
nice and through a friend Tony V who’s a comic in Boston who would come to this show
that I did with friends. And he was really supportive and he had been someone who
had, when I was in Boston, he had been on Seinfeld and stuff and he was sort of this very supportive figure and remains so. And then there’s comics
when I got to New York, I toured eventually with Stella, which is a comedy troupe of David Waine, Michael Ian
Black and Michael Showalter. And they were really
instrumental in helping me as well as Patton Oswalt and
David Cross and Bob Berry. There’s a lot of comics that have been very supportive and very helpful. John Benjamin, and he’s someone
who I tour with now a lot and you sort of meet different people and you find people who
you like collaborating with or touring with or people that, or there’s comics that I try to help. And I think it’s a very warm, very supportive community, personally. – I’m also guessing on that
last line of questioning, but it sounds to me like you’re
reluctant to give advice. – What do you mean? – I’m just not picking that up from, I think you’re getting your– – What’s the advice? – Which is good. It’s in there and I’m trying to– – No, no, what’s so funny is I’m like, giving advice, which is do the thing. I think to me the advice is whatever your goal is, I don’t know. If you wanna be a film maker, find a way to make a film. If the only way you can do it
is with your iPhone, do that. No one is stopping you from making a thing and then try to figure out how
to get that thing out there. Submit it to 25 festivals. If that doesn’t work, make another film. Write a script, take a
script writing class. I don’t know, I feel like
my advice is do everything. And then when you’re running out of time or energy for focus, but yeah, it’s not that I’m not willing to give advice
– No, I love it. – My advice is think of the goal and then think of like five ways that
you could succeed at that goal. And then try them and then narrow it down and think of another goal. I think that that’s probably, is that helpful? – It’s beautiful. – Right. – To me, you could put
your arms around that. What I’m also trying to connect, it’s the same for everything, right? And we make things a lot more complicated. I think you deciding that you were gonna be a comic and early, you basically said the
best way to achieve plan A is to kill plan B. – Right. – There is no other plan B. – I also was 18. So I think if you’re
any where under the age of 23 right now, watching this. You can totally start right now and you’ll be fine. And if you’re 40 you’ll also be fine. I know people who started
doing comedy when they were 40 and they’re now wildly successful. – They just had to make
some special concessions with their mortgage and
their family or whatever. – Or they were in New York and they had none of those things. – As New York often can do. – But yeah, I mean my advice is that you should in a thoughtful way spend all your time trying
to achieve your goal through whatever means you have access to. I think that people maybe don’t think of what their opportunities are, what’s in front of them. And I know that it’s a terrible slog and there’s so much failure, and it’s years of it. I mean I started when I was 18. So, I got to fail for five
years or six years even, before I was even in the city doing stuff. – That’s a really
important message I feel. – So, I do think that vaguely
if you try to do a thing, that within 10 to 15 years
you’ll probably succeed. And I think that that’s true with so many of the people around me. Most of the comics that I
started out with in Boston, who moved to either New York or L.A. I think they all became
professional comedians. And I don’t know if it’s
a self selecting group or what it is, but I will say that
virtually everyone I know is now either has a T.V. show or tours as a successful stand-up or works on a show. – There’s an element of
stamina clearly, right? – Yeah, like stamina, tenacity, and then of course being
good at your craft. I think that that is very important. But something like 90% of
the people I started out with in the late 90’s are all
working, professional comedians. – 28 years later, that’s the stamina part. They’re still doing it. And you almost have no choice but to become good at your craft, assuming you’re putting in the time. – Right, and assuming that
nothing that you can do. – So let’s shift gears and look into the future a little bit. Married, child– – It’s true already I’m already married. – Child? – Yes, I have a child and I’m married. You’re like “lets just
be clear we’re looking at the future, but you mean
– Today. – like a few years ago. Yes, I am married, I have a child. He is 17 months old. – Your descriptive for him is he’s large. (laughing) – Yes, he’s the size of a three year old, but he’s 17 months old, size of a two and a
half to three year old. – Wow!
– Yeah, that’s very big. – Has that shapend your career
in a new an different way. I hear you’re out her working
getting some sunshine in L.A. It’s 80 degrees in Boston right now. – Yes, somebody was like,
“sorry it’s cold in L.A.” And I was like, ” it’s 70
degrees warmer right here. “Are you kidding me?” – Anyway, how is that shaping– – Yeah, do you feel different
about your career now? ’cause there’s a lot of folks out there that family does take
priority over their career. Just wanna know how you work
those to things together. – Well, I mean, part of
it is that I’ve try to create a career that is adjustable. So, obviously, something
like Bob’s Burgers, which is a cartoon that
I can record once a week. And then other shows,
there’s other cartoons and podcasts and various things that I do that are very conducive to
being home with a family and not having to travel as much. Though I am about to also go
on tour for several weeks. But yeah, the way that it’s affected it is that I try to do stuff
that it lets me be home more. And again that’s because I have
a few jobs that allow that. And I have a podcast for Audible so that lets me be home. If I wasn’t I’d probably be on tour more. – But you also, do yo do
that out of intention, right? You wanna be able to spend
more time with your family. What are things that don’t require me to be in Tuscaloosa today? – Right, I intentionally try
to do more of those things and meet with people who
will facilitate that. Yeah, so that’s true. – Let’s talk about some of those things. You got Audible, let’s
talk about your tour, let’s talk about audible and what else is in the making right now for you. – What do I do? – I know you’re this
wildly passionate chef the last time we were together. I think you do an amazing duck. – I do love cooking. I wonder if I have that photograph. – You probably do have a photo of me holding a duck some where. – (laughing) I’m such a good picture. So tell me about the Audibile show. – Hold On is a show where basically, comedians tell a story and I ask them questions
through out their story. I don’t know there’s
something like 50 episodes or so that we’ve done there on iTunes and wherever people get podcasts and also on the Audible app. Neil deGrasse Tyson told a story about how he almost became a mail stripper when he was in college to make money. – Wow! – So if you wanna hear that story, I know I did it’s really funny. – Wow! What episode is that? the Neil deGrasse Tyson episode– – Yeah, that’s what it would be called. Meaning that one’s I
think just on Audible. ‘Cause they’re releasing them in seasons. So yeah, there’s that show, there’s a kids podcast for WNYC that I do. And stand-up and actually
I had a comedy festival that me and my friend Julie Smith did for ten years in New York and though the festival had it’s last one, we’re making a documentary about it so I’m working on that now. But again that’s like a thing where we would film something and now I can watch cuts at home and give feedback and again it lets me be home. – So, you told the anecdote
about Neil deGrasse Tyson. Presumably that’s a story he doesn’t walk around talking about all the time, that you are able to extract
that brilliantly from him. – Well, he came up with that
as the story he wanted to tell. The way the podcast works is people have a story they’re going to tell and I ask them questions. So he didn’t suggest other stories and I was like, “How about this one?” He was like, “this is
the story I’m gonna tell, “I don’t tell it a lot.” So, it’s great. – Do you have one of those for us today? No can be the answer, but
lets try and find one. No, meaning I can sit and
try to think of something. The way the podcast works is that people are asked before hand. – They know. Oh, I get it. – Is there something that you have told to some friends that you
would share with us today? – I mean I’m sure there is. I like that is seems like I’m evasive, but I’m not evasive. You’re like, ” do you have any stories?” And I’m like– – I’ve got many stories. I am a credible story teller. – I don’t have one off hand. I don’t know. I don’t know what a story, because also what would come to mind is the stories I tell, that
like the stories I don’t tell. I probably rarely talk about
the Korean airliner thing. So that’s the whole story. – And what age was that just to replay that for a second. – I think that was 83
three that it happened, so I don’t know however, I
guess I was like eight or nine. Which is way too young
to shoot down a plane. Just to be clear. – From wherever you were. – Right, from Lexington Mass, the birth place of America. A great place to come to from Russia. Came right to the heart of
the American Revolution. – Very hard to shoot down a
Korean Airliner from Lexington. – Yeah, especially with
the stuff I had as a kid which was maybe a kick ball. (laughing) – Alright, so there’s the audible show. Tell us a little bit about the tour. I’ll come find ya. – I don’t think, it
hasn’t been announced yet. – Oh I didn’t think about that, okay. – But I will be doing tour dates. – I’ve seen you in San Francisco. Last time Megan, Bryan and Kate and I were in Boston we saw you there. Do you have a favorite place to perform? – I have favorite places. I mean those cities are great. Seattle, Neptune, Dollhouse in Brooklyn, where I’ve done many, many shows. With dunar festival that’s
like on of my favorite places. Paradise Rock Club in Boston. The Black Cat in D.C. and Cat’s Cradle in North Carolina is great. And Austin as a city. So anyway, I mean I like all the places that lots of people
come to to enjoy comedy. (laughing) I feel like I could keep naming, but I’ve also had like a wonder time at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. There’s tons of sort of, just smaller cities that are great, – Favorite co-conspirators.? – Julie Smith who I produce
a lot of stuff with. We did a festival and
various shows together. She’s someone I adore working with. Comics John Benjamin and
Kristen Schaal, Kurt Braunohler. There’s a poet who I adore. Who I have open for me now Jack Brown. He’s really funny and just wonderful. – Did he open for you at
Sketch Fest in San Francisco? – He probably did, yeah he’s amazing. I met him through David
Cross and Amber Tamblyn. He officiated their wedding and he’s just amazing. he has this amazing way with words and convey things that
is probably stand-up in a certain way where you convey things that are very familiar
but you never thought to look at it that way. – I’m taking notes right now and ask this questions for people. Who do you like and then we could sort of go off and explore that. – Yes, those are derrick
brown really amazing. Those are some of my favorite
co-conspirators I would say. – I love it. – Yeah. Thank you so much for being on the show. Sure, thank you. – I hope I have helped people become photographers or writers. – No, no literally the goal is to, this is the spice to anything and it’s been such a treat
to follow your career over a long period of time. – You’re welcome And occasionally bump into you in random ass places
with our mutual friends. Thank you for coming to L.A.
or thanks for being in L.A. At the same time we’re filming. Okay, good luck.
– Awesome – Thanks a lot buddy
– Thank you so much – Thank you. – This was really fun, bye bye. – Bye friends byre bye – I hope what I’ve said
is fair and reasonable. – Fair and reasonable, balanced. – Yup. – Generalism not (music
drowns out speaker) Until tomorrow. (theme music)

6 Replies to “Stamina, Tenacity and Craft with Eugene Mirman”

  1. Brilliant content as ever, perfect inspiration at the end of gloomy February in freezing England!!…now to go and dust off that fax machine…

  2. A big, genuine thanks for this interview. Eugene has been an inspiration to me for a long time and it's so refreshing to see such a sincere and thoughtful discussion with him. I love how aggressively pragmatic he is in his approach to working. "My advice is just do the thing." So, I guess it's time to stop commenting on a YouTube video and do something. But yeah, really well done here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *