Interview: Flight of the Conchords' Eugene Mirman


Stand-up, author, actor, filmmaker and comedy-festival curator Eugene Mirman may have a lot on his plate, but the onetime Comedian of Comedy knows it's all about finding a balance, preferably one involving crazy religions and Jethro Tull. He opens for Flight of the Conchords tonight at the Fabulous Fox Theatre.


You play a landlord on Flight of the Conchords. Who are your real-life landlord inspirations?
My old landlord in Somerville, Massachusetts, Mr. Ji. He taught me everything I know about being a landlord.

Your appearing on both Conchords and Adult Swim's new Delocated is reminiscent of Bob Saget's heady Full House/America's Funniest Home Videos days. Rumor is he soldiered through on DayQuil; what's your secret?
He probably had longer days, because on top of shooting, he had to spend hours each morning meditating to keep himself from swearing. My trick was the same as Tom Cruise's: I would get up each morning, join a crazy religion, donate lots of money to it, and then practice smiling very intensely.

Any follow-up book to The Will to Whatevs on the horizon? You've already so clearly dominated the self-help field, so perhaps a Great American Novel? Celebrity cookbook? 
I would make a celebrity cook book if someone asked me to. I don't know if I could write a Great American Novel, but I might be able to write a pretty good Canadian one.

You performed on last year's "Standuppity" tour alongside Andy Kindler and Marc Maron. As those are both pretty, shall we say, interesting dudes, where did the idea for the line-up come from, and do you now have any humorous slash insightful dirt on either?
I actually don't remember doing this. That's not true. I remember now. It was something Andy wanted to put together and asked me to do, and then we both asked Marc. It was very fun. And I don't have any dirt on them because they are both angels, but I will say that I learned that Andy Kindler is a blackbelt and that Marc Maron is kind and gentle, like a rabbit that sometimes gets very mad -- in a funny way -- at a fucked up world. It's too bad they're comedians, because they both would have made such good senators.

This year, Cabinet of Wonders tour with John Wesley Harding, same question.
Wes and I met several years ago and became friends. He's an amazing guy. We would ask each other to do various shows around the city sometimes. Last fall he had me do a short set at a live CD recording he was doing at Union Hall, a club that I do a weekly show at in Brooklyn. The show was really fun and I suggested that we tour sometime. A few months later he put together a monthly variety show series at Le Poisson Rouge called "John Wesley Harding's Cabinet of Wonders," and we decided to adapt it into "Wes and Eugene's Cabinet" for the road. Are you glad I answered that accurately, or would you rather I said that we were tricked by a tiny mischievous magic being from another dimension into touring together? 

Video work is an integral part of your live stand-up show. Do you have aspirations to one day create full-length comedies?
Yes and no. I'm not making short videos now in hopes of making a one-and-a-half-hour movie where I talk to camera, but I have started working on several larger film projects. The main one I'm working on is a documentary of going back to Russia for the first time since I came to America 30 years ago. We have some footage that we shot last year of me in America. We're mostly working on pitching it to various production companies. Michael Showalter is going to direct it.

Will there be a second annual Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival in Brooklyn this September? Any lessons learned from the last time around that will make the next one bigger and/or better?
There will be a second one. We've started working on it. We did learn a bunch of things, but they would be too boring to relate.

You recorded your third album last November in Chicago. And details on its release date, title, any sort of change in direction from En Garde, Society, etc.? 
I don't have a title yet. It should be out in early fall. All I can really say is it will usher in a new movement in art. Or maybe not. I guess we'll see. 

Anything else you'd like to get out there?
I like backgammon a lot, and Benefit is probably my favorite Jethro Tull album. Not sure, though.

Eugene Mirman opens for Flight of the Conchords. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 30. Fox Theatre, 527 N. Grand Boulevard. $38.50. 314-534-1678.


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