SXSW Comedy: The Comedian’s Comedian Podcast Taping with Eugene Mirman
The interview gets to the heart of Mirman's "warm silliness"
By Ashley Moreno,
11:45AM, Mon. Mar. 11, 2019
On his UK-based podcast, The Comedian’s Comedian, Stuart Goldsmith interviews comedians about the art of comedy. “Around the 40-minute mark, I try to convince them they are deeply depressed,” he said during the intro of Sunday’s SXSW Comedy live taping. More often than not, he’s right. Sunday’s guest? Eugene Mirman.
On The Comedian’s Comedian, Goldsmith and his guest tease out the strange relationship between good comedy and mental instability while discussing the comedic process. Sunday’s episode with beloved comic, actor, and fellow podcaster Mirman (Bob’s Burgers, Flight of the Conchords) started with an attempt to define Mirman’s special brand of kind-hearted comedy. “I feel like you’re in a genre of one,” Goldsmith said. Mirman, of course, agreed. “I bend minds with my words,” he joked, before calling his comedy “warm silliness.” As with most recordings, this quickly led to a conversation about Mirman’s writing process. “Comedy has a lot in common with science,” he said. “There is a lot of trial and error.” From a practical standpoint, that means finding safe spaces to try new things. “Sometimes you have to write 30 punch lines to find the five that work,” Mirman said. Goldsmith then asked him how he would cope with performances that didn’t go as planned. “I would internalize it, because that’s healthy,” Mirman joked, before explaining that over time he “learned to get excited about fixing it.”
Throughout the interview, collaboration with friends surfaced as an integral part of Mirman’s creative process and one of the aspects of comedy he likes most. This collaborative approach to comedy is the focus of the feature-length documentary, It Started as a Joke, which premiered at the Zach Topfer Theatre following the podcast recording. Mirman stars in the doc, which focuses on producing and hosting the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival with his friend Julie Smith Clem. She co-directed the film, along with Ken Druckerman. As the film’s title suggests, the entire festival originated as a joke: the thought that Mirman hosting a festival named after him would be funny. “But then we did it, and it was really fun,” he told Goldsmith. “Then after six months, we did it again.” It kept going for another 10 years. “That’s commitment to a joke,” Goldsmith said.
True to his word, around the 40-minute mark, Goldsmith asked Mirman about the stress of comedy as an art form and what drives Mirman to keep going onstage. Over the years, it got easier, but that nervousness never went away. “You can always fail,” Mirman said. “That’s the nice thing about comedy.” When Goldsmith asked what advice Mirman, now a polished, established comedian, would give his younger self, he didn’t have much. “There’s no replacing experience,” Mirman said.
Goldsmith records another episode of The Comedian’s Comedian featuring Matt Braunger Tue., March 12, 7pm, at the Hideout.
Goldsmith's SXSW recordings, as well as all of his podcasts, are available here.
It Started as a Joke screens again as part of SXSW Film Tue., March 12, 2:15pm, and Thu., March 14, 8:45pm, both at the Alamo Ritz 1.