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Eugene the Destroyer

His comedy kills, and now he's storming the SXSW Web Awards

By Josh Rosenblatt, Fri., Feb. 29, 2008

Eugene the Destroyer
Photo by Aubrey Edwards

Successful stand-up comedian. Opening act for indie rock heroes the Shins and Yo La Tengo. Blogger for The Village Voice and video satirist for Huffington Post sister site 236.com. Sometime-actor on HBO's Flight of the Conchords. Viral-video artist supreme, whose comically shoddy home-video skits about fictional "sexperts" and the difficulties of time travel have spread all over the Internet and turned their author into a cult hero among users. Now New York-based comedian Eugene Mirman is coming to Austin to add another bullet to his résumé: emcee of the 11th annual SXSW Web Awards.

According to South by Southwest Interactive Festival coordinator Shawn O'Keefe, Mirman was a logical choice for the job. "Eugene's indicative of the social involvement on the Internet that we're interested in," he says. "He's a prime example of a guy who's leveraged the Web and all its interactive potential to his advantage."

Mirman, however, has a different take. He claims the reason Festival organizers chose him is because "they knew I'd destroy Austin if they didn't."

"Actually," he continues, "I think they knew that I was a comedian who does a lot of blogging and Web-based stuff, so they probably thought I'd fit. The Internet has been good to my career; it's allowed me to do my comedy videos and get them out to a wide audience, much wider than I would have without it."

With his incongruous, conversational comedy style – full of absurdist social observations, good-natured sarcasm, and left-field references to throwaway movies and TV shows – Mirman should fit right in among the varied honorees at this year's Web Awards program, which celebrates the innovations that are constantly broadening what the Internet is capable of and what kinds of information and entertainment users can have access to and interact with. The websites up for awards this year include collaborative activist film site World Without Oil; Kongregate, which features Web-only games like Glove of Fury Challenge (where players must help cultural icon the Hamburger Helper acquire something called the "Death Mask Card"); and Ustream.TV, which provides artists and musicians the opportunity to perform for viewers all over the world through live interactive broadcasting. (In case you were wondering, this is the only place to watch the third Swiss Beat Box Battle live as it's happening.)

Anyone familiar with Mirman's comedy can tell you that Glove of Fury Challenge could have just as easily been the name of one of his videos or stand-up routines (so could Swiss Beat Box Battle, for that matter). Plus, for a performer/video artist like Mirman, a site like Ustream.TV could represent a whole new world of performative possibilities. So it makes sense that Mirman is coming all the way down to Texas to be an awards-show host.

"I'm a huge fan of the Web and other tech stuff," he says. "The innovations in the technology provide new possibilities every day to present your work to the world and to come up with new ways of doing things as a performer."

"I think the whole interactive world has changed entertainment by taking promotional power out of the hands of the corporations and giving it back to little guys, like me."  

SXSW Web Awards Ceremony March 9, 7:30pm, Hilton Austin Downtown

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