Stand-up comic Eugene Mirman does the voice of Gene on Fox's animated series "Bob's Burgers." He played Eugene the landlord on "Flight of the Conchords." On Cartoon Network's "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" he's Dr. Eugene Mirman, and on the same channel's "Home Movies" he was Eugene, the Russian foreign exchange student. He also plays a comedian/mobster named Yvgeny Mirminsky (Russian for "Eugene") on Adult Swim's "Delocated."
In other words, Mirman's characters are easy to spot by name alone. Mirman keeps company with underground elite stand-ups such as Fred Armisen, Sarah Vowell and Kristen Schaal, and he has his own quirks, like performing while accompanied by a theremin and opening for bands like The Shins. His collection of Eugene characters, and his dry, casual delivery, are likely why he was named Best New York City Comedian by the Village Voice and one of the 10 best comedians of the last decade by Paste Magazine.
In one of Mirman's funnier live showsand what he admits is a "fantasy revenge" scenariohe reads aloud an email, titled "You Suck," that he received from two guys. He responds with his own email that begins: "First of all, hello, and thank you for your opinion. I'm surprised more people don't write mean emails to strangers. You are both timeless. It's like you're both from high school past, present and future. You are not douchebags but douchebag-ness." One of the guys is in the audience, and Mirman invites him on stage, where he proceeds to burn the haters with info he found out about them on the internet. "Josh, that your email address is 'mathisretarded' speaks volumes."
Mirman also recently posted a recorded conversation with an anti-gay phone company that called him, trying to get him to change services, but Mirman flipped the table on it. When the company suggests their intent is to cut funding from the ACLU, Mirman says, "The ACLU. Hmm. What's that again? The American Civil Liberties Union? They sound a little sketchy." It's reminiscent of Jerky Boys, and the days before caller ID.
Currently on tour with the Bob's Burgers Live show, Mirman talked with us about his comedy background, the Second Amendment and opening for bands like Cake.
I was excited to see that you're on Sub Pop records. What have been some of your favorite bands to open for?
EM: Yo La Tengo is always a super pleasure to do shows with. I just did "Delocated Live," which is a show on Adult Swim. Yo La Tengo played, and they had me and the guy who plays my brother cover the Soft Boys' "I Want to Destroy You" with thick Russian accents, and that was super fun. I had a great time touring with Andrew Bird. I hosted a tour for Cake that was really fun. One of the most fun things that I do is Wesley Stace's Cabinet of Wonders.
You majored in comedy. How did you get away with that?
EM: I went to [Hampshire], a college where you can design your own major. And what I wanted to major in was comedy, which is in certain ways a more specific form of English or writing. But the way I did it is, I took classes in writing and film and history and sociology and then did a lot of side projects. I did a radio show and did a humor column for a weekly paper, and then for my thesis I did a one-hour stand-up act that I wrote and produced.
You do this prank phone call talking to an anti-gay marriage phone company where you go really over the top trying to show them how ridiculous they are.
EM: Well, because they were trying to sell me phone service and that superceded any desire to hang up on me. I think that they were also shady and weird and funneled money to political action groups, possibly inappropriately. So I don't know if they still exist or not. Maybe there's something like it. I mean clearly it's insane to call people and go, "Hey, we're a homophobic phone company." So I don't know what happened to them, but I know I did my part in trying to hurt them.
You're coming to a state where the Second Amendment is really hotly debated.
EM: It's sad because 90 percent of Americans just really want better background checks. No one is talking about taking guns from people. They're maybe talking about taking away high capacity clips and automatic weapons, but overall, in general, no one's trying to prevent anyone from hunting or owning a gun to protect themselves. So it's sort of depressing to see this debate kind of be ridiculous. I mean, I like shooting guns. I'm not at all against shooting guns. I just think you should have background checks and you should make sure people don't try to hurt each other easily. That's all.
Eugene Mirman performs at Stage 112 Wed., May 15, at 8 PM. $15 plus fees. Tickets available at inticketing.com.