Eugene Mirman


Written by Declan Tan
31 Monday 31st October 2011

It turned out he wasn’t down there and I’d walked in on rehearsals for Fit and Proper People instead. It was embarrassing. Then I went upstairs and there he was. We sat outside for a chat. It was lovely.

When you talk about connecting with an audience, what do you mean by that?

Blowing their minds through sex… talk. No. When they laugh at the weird things you tell them about. Basically.

So you know it’s good if they’re laughing.

I mean nothing could ever be quite that simple. You definitely know that it works if they’re laughing.

Maybe they’re laughing for strange reasons.

Are you telling me there’s a scenario where someone does an hour of stand-up and at the end of every joke the audience is always laughing but ‘for the wrong reasons’? I would absolutely adore seeing that show. That would be a cruel audience making fun of a handicapped person. Something that maybe happens here, but not in the States.

I mean, yes, obviously if they laugh it works. I think that the thing of it is, if you’re doing something that’s sort of unusual and then people are laughing and it’s working then you feel like you’re really getting yourself across. And that’s what feels good about comedy.

Here's Eugene Mirman's tips on getting through high school.

So is that why you do it… self-expression.

I guess but… I mean…

Actually that would be kind of a pretentious answer, wouldn’t it?

“I do it for self-expression and the ability to buy almost unlimited fish”. (laughter). Um… I mean I enjoy so many different aspects of comedy. I don’t do it because it’s the only way I can get my soul onto the page (laughs). But I do like travelling and telling jokes and making silly things. And putting on fun events.

That sounded a little bit like an online dating advert.

About what I like to do? Yes. I’m trying to take the world on a date and FUCK THEM IN THEIR FACE. Write that. I apologise. I guess I could probably say ‘cunt’.

You could. Or we could do a drawing of you fucking the world in its face.

An animated gif. Go right ahead.

We're not some animated gif creating internet lords, so here's Eugene's latest CD cover instead

I don’t know if you’ve switched on the TV while you’ve been here…

I actually literally haven’t. I haven’t turned the TV on yet. I’m not mad at your TV. Your TV is fine. And your news is so impartial. It’s great.

Do you really think so?

I don’t know. I’m not being facetious. Uh, no I’m being half serious, and half… not.

But you haven’t turned the TV on.

I’ve turned it on in the past. I’m not like mad at TV. I don’t want this to be like, ‘Eugene Mirman thinks TV is for the base…’ I don’t know do you have a word for people… You have posh, and what’s negative… for poor people?

…Chav, maybe?

Chavs? Yeah. ‘TV is so chavvy’. No. I don’t think that at all. I just happened to have not watched it. Just like I haven’t gone to the zoo but I love animals. You see that? That’s not the best analogy.

I didn’t see that one coming.

It’s not a good one but it almost makes sense.

It made sense. There’s a lot of basic stand-up comedy on television, do you think that’s because…

Because it’s very cheap to make? Yes. That is the answer. That is literally the answer. (laugh)

Will it get to the point where no one is interested in watching TV stand-up?

Is this the first time in England that you’ve had lots of stand-up on TV?

Maybe since the Nineties, I would say.

It’s hard to say whether that’ll happen but the answer is probably… (coughing)


... (coughing) …

Sorry, I thought you were building suspense.

I need water.

And this is the cover of his book. I think his PR people may have an agenda to push here...

I thought you were teasing whether you would say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

No, my throat was dry then I started coughing.


That’s what happened in the Eighties. In America, stand-up was hugely popular on television. Then it became over-saturated then it sort of went away. And it had a crash. The difference is, I think, if it’s mostly good, or mostly bad?

It’s mostly bad.

If it’s mostly bad then people won’t keep watching it. But that’s like, is it bad because you think it’s bad? Or is it bad because it’s actually bad?

I think a lot of people think it’s bad. But not enough for them to stop making it. And in England they have an X-Factor-style TV show where it’s comedians…

Sounds terrible.

It’s called ‘Show Me the Funny’ as well.

Yeah, there used to be a show called ‘Make Me Laugh’ where comedians would yell at somebody in a chair. It never seemed like a good idea.

Here's a video we found on Youtube that Eugene sent from the future in a timebag

But cheap to make.


Has performing in front of people ever been a problem for you?

Yeah! Like when I first started I was extremely nervous. And even now, you know, you don’t know how it will go. In a sense, I’m much more comfortable. I’m much, much more comfortable now than before. But yeah, I think that it’s always something you think about. You can always fail. And the possibility of failure never leaves you.

(laughter) That’s quite a grim line.

Yes, but you can’t get on stage without knowing that things might fail.

Do you consider the audience when you’re preparing?

They like the same stuff. You know, the funny thing I found touring or opening for bands was whatever works best in front of a band is the same thing that’s going to work best, actually, down here in the theatre in front of older theatre-goers. Mostly. I mean, within reason.

I’ve certainly done shows where it’s a real mismatching of me and an audience. Where I’ll mention the Internet or something, this was maybe ten years ago, and you can see in the eyes of the audience that they really didn’t know about it. Which is unusual. It was in Las Vegas. It was a terrible mistake where I was in LA and somebody said ‘you should do these shows because you’re so close’, and I said ‘OK’. And it was just a terrible experience and I only did two out of the eight. Because it was a real mismatching.

I had things where I was talking about technology and admittedly not complicated technology, and they were just like, ‘We literally don’t know what that is’. And it’s fine that they didn’t. It was just that I should not be performing for them (laugh).

Not slightly disappointed in your audience there?

Well they’re not really my audience. That’s like saying I told a cat a very funny story and he didn’t like it and I’m so mad at this cat. How dare he? It’s such a clever story! (he laughs) Not to say that these people are cats. They were much smarter than cats. But both cats and them didn’t know about the Internet.

I think that my goal is to figure out how to convey the thing that I think is funny to an audience. And to have them like it. I want them to. But I won’t… it’s not like I would do just anything they would like (laugh). I take them into consideration in the sense that I’m performing for them and that’s, you know, a relevant aspect. I don’t know if it shapes it in the sense that you can fail or succeed. Like you can think of a funny way to tell your joke or not. Or to convey yourself or not.

OK… I think that makes a good point for us to stop.

OK. I think we covered a lot.


Visit Eugene's website for more, and to buy his book  The Will To Whatevs; A Guide To Modern Life.


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