Interview: Eugene Mirman on Asperger's Syndrome, Advice from Former Teachers, and the Mirman Weirdos
Comedian Eugene Mirman makes even the most productive person look unproductive. In the last several months, he's released his first self-help book The Will To Whatevs, reprised his role as "Eugene" during the second season of HBO's Flight of the Conchords, organized and hosted the second annual Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival (held last month in Brooklyn) and tomorrow releases his third album, God Is a Twelve-Year Old Boy With Asperger's, his second for Sub Pop. The album captures a live set Mirman from last November at Chicago's Lakeshore Theater, where he dished on crappy airlines, high school reunions, why America is certainly better than abortions, and what he does when he finds iPods. (He'll call Apple and vigorously try to track you down to return it. Or has he refers to it, "the nicest thing anyone has done since the underground railroad.")
Sound of the City caught up with Mirman last week in Brooklyn and discussed all of these things in a very serious manner. On most Sunday evenings, Mirman hosts "Tearing the Veil of Maya," a "night of wonderful, informal comedy" at Union Hall in Park Slope, Brooklyn. You should go sometime, just don't be a Mirman Weirdo.
This year, you've released a book, reprised your role on Flight of the Conchords, organized your second comedy festival, and are now releasing this CD. This is all very hip-hop of you. You know, because you branch out into everything.
I think a more accurate way to describe it is, is that hip-hop is becoming more like me. Finally, it's what I've dreamed of. But the truth is, all this stuff, it's always what I've done. When I was in Boston, and when I was in college, I would organize various events or shows. Do weird things and put out little magazines or write articles.
Seeing your show, even years ago, I guess it doesn't surprise me that you could do all this in just six months.
Right. But, ultimately I think its fun to do a variety of things. I think when people start out, they say "well, what do you want to do? Do you want to be on Saturday Night Live? And you're like, "No, I'm not really a sketch actor, that wouldn't really be a thing for me." And they're like, "But what else is there?" It's as if they think if you're not doing that, then why are you even bothering. You want to be funny about ideas or something? I'd say, "No, I'd like to write a book." They'd say "Okay, go do your hippie comedy stuff."
People love to write about bands and musicians and download their music and see their shows and everyone loves bands. But I feel like recently, comedians have been getting a fair amount of love too.
It goes in waves. Back in 1989, there would be a comedy show everywhere; including right here, right now. But I feel like stand up is being more popular again, but it's hard to tell. I feel like in the '80s, there was all this comedy. There was such a demand for it and it became insincere and crappy. There are certainly terrible things but there are people that are great and there are lots of informal shows, these days.
When you signed to Sub Pop, did they take you to a secret little vault and let you pick out one Nirvana thing and three Mudhoney things that no one else can touch?
[laughs] Exactly. They were like, "We have this one thing, it's worth about $250,000, you can just have it." I said, "Thank you so much." No, but when I do go there, I go to their little warehouse and take a sweatshirt-which I need a new one, because I keep losing it-and a bunch of new CDs. I bet if I wanted a seven-inch that they had several of, I could get.
Like more than four.
Yeah. "I was wondering if I could get some old demos. Nirvana demos, I promise I won't release them." But Mark Arm runs the warehouse.
Yeah, for real. He loves to, that's why he does it. Like the way Drew Carey must love The Price is Right to host it. Except Mark is a musician and knows about that stuff.