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You are also touring widely with great indie bands
like Modest Mouse and the Helio Sequence. How did
you get connected with that scene? Did they seek
EM: I performed at Tinkle a lot and after the
booze cruise, a rock booking agent asked me if
I wanted to open for The Shins. I did. After that
she asked me if I had anyone booking me live, and
I didn’t, so she became my agent. Demetri
Martin, Leo Allen, Andy Blitz and I toured in rock
clubs already with our friend Shonali’s bands
(Tigers and Monkeys and The Neverlands) and I toured
with Stella and really enjoyed it. Modest Mouse
wanted to do something different, and my agent
works with them and Helio Sequence and set up that
tour. But also, I go to a lot of music shows, and
a lot of musicians come to comedy shows. That’s
how I ended up touring with Yo La Tengo. Bobby
Tisdale and I often have a musician close the show.
At first we had Langhorne Slim (who I saw perform
and loved) close every show. And then we started
booking other people. We’ve had The Trachtenberg
Family Slide Show Players, John Wesley Harding,
Connor Oberst and countless others. I think it’s
a nice way to end a show.
NYC: What is it like performing for a rock audience
as opposed to a comedy audience? Is there any difference
EM: It can be hard, but it also reaches a whole
new group of people. And when it works, it’s
super fun. Opening for Stella in rock clubs are
some of the most fun shows. There’s lots
of people who don’t really go to comedy clubs,
but constantly go to rock clubs, so it makes sense
to bring comedy there. Rock clubs often have a
more natural feeling environment. Comedy clubs
can be antiseptic. Have you ever been walking around
New York and had somebody say to you “Do
you like music? Want to buy tickets to Irving Plaza?” No.
But people are constantly stopped and asked “Do
you like comedy? Want tickets to see standup?” Would
you want to perform for people who have been tricked
into seeing you? There are some really great comedy
clubs of course. But many comedy clubs are expensive
NYC: Given that New York is your home base, do
you like going on tour spreading your magic, or
do you prefer performing here and "pumping
up your base?" Are there a lot of swing states
that are just on the fence about you?
EM: I enjoy both. I like being in New York the
most, but it’s nice to get away and tour.
I learn a lot from traveling. Did you know that
it would be awful to live in Florida? I do now.
Though St. Augustine is beautiful. I hadn’t
really seen that much of the country until I started
touring. I love Austin and Seattle. And I bet people
in Swing States would mostly dislike me.
NYC: A topic that's hard to avoid no matter what
you're talking about these days: politics. You've
made short films parodying the Swift Boaters for
Truth, and with people like Jon Stewart taking
CNN hosts to task for political theater, comedy
has become very political in these months and weeks
before the election. How important is that for
you to affect or deal with the political climate
in your standup?
EM: Somewhat important. Mostly what I do isn’t
political. I prefer doing comedy that is either
odd stories/ jokes, weird social satire, or simply
ridiculous. However, I think humor can be very
powerful corrective tool. I think Jon Stewart leveled
the Crossfire guys. It’s hard to fight against
humor. If you can make fun of something in a way
people really connect with, there’s almost
no rebuttal, except something funnier. And it spreads.
Countless people e-mailed Jon Stewart on Crossfire
to each other. Our media has become crappy over
the last decade or two, ever since it went from
being largely public interest focused to profit
motivated. And now people are talking about it
more. And Jon Stewart is one of the reasons. And
The Daily Show is one of the only shows that challenges
the stupidity of both the media and politics. The
idea of a “freedom hater” is simply
stupid. It’s the stupidest thing I’ve
heard in years. That’s not a way for the
president to talk about terrorism. Basically, I
think Bush is a frightening president. And if I
can think of a way to make fun of him or his agenda
in a way that can spread, I will. So far, the Swift
Boat video and a bunch of benefits are all I’ve
done. If I had a great joke about America’s
policy of sexually humiliating and raping detainees
in Iraq and Gitmo (that’s what the Army and
I call Guantanamo Bay) I would tell it. All I have
though are a few slogans for the Kerry campaign:
1) Hey Wing States: New York City Has Been Attacked
By Terrorists and We’re Voting For John Kerry
Because He Won’t Get Us Blown Up, Also, What
2) Vote Kerry: He Will Deceive and Rape You Much,
Much Less, Maybe Not At All.
3) Jonh Kerry: He Will Kill As Many Terrorists
As Bush, With Only Half The Fear
NYC: Releasing your own CD is a pretty big milestone
in a comic's career, what are your next ambitions?
EM: I’m slated to take over for Letterman
NYC: Part of the Mirman mythos is your star turn
as the Arsonist on Third Watch. Do you feel like
a whore when you go out for acting gigs? Is it
fun being a whore? And how much for handjobs?
EM: I don’t feel like a whore. Being on
Third Watch was really fun. However, it is depressing
being at auditions. Also, I don’t call it
acting. I call it Pretending. If you have a chance
to check out my pretendings, you should. And to
answer your other question, a handjob isn’t
about money, it’s about the job. And if you
have even a little pride or marginally believe
in the protestant work ethic, you would do it for
free. Me, I would charge $250,000.
NYC: [In hushed, Barbara Walters tones] Eugene, "sexy," what
is it? You've described it in your "Ask Eugene" column
as "Laughing at the wrong time, and throwing
shit at people." Any second thoughts?
EM: Like anything, sexy is a game. A game in which
you play to win. Where else do we play to win?
The War On Terror. To be sexy you must understand
things in a post 9/11 context. The post 9/11 woman,
to be sexy, must be three things: beautiful (our
nation’s media subtly lets women know that
already), confident, and passionate. And no, putting
on a camisole and crappy ass-revealing jeans isn’t
sexy, it’s disturbing. Cut that shit out.
A post 9/11 woman understands that sexy is a smell,
a gesture, something you yell at a child. Or to
put it another way, sexy is when you make 70 cents
to the dollar and then smile and give him a good
time in bed anyway. That’s sexy! For a man,
it’s sexy to be vindictive, polite and tall.
NYC: And in conclusion, as a Mirman, what is it
like to be able to breathe and function both on
land and in the ocean?
EM: Thanks for asking. I have an army of fish,
so it’s cool.
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