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Interview: Eugene Mirman

You already did the AltCom! Festival, last year! Why are you doing it again?

On a dare! I was dared to do a show in Somerville, Massachusetts, and I accepted the challenge. The question isn’t, why would I accept money to do stand-up in a city I’m from, it’s why would they ask me back? Plus, to me alternative spaces are sort of the norm of where I perform. I just wrote a poem.


Nobody I talk to can ever really define "alternative" versus "mainstream" comedy. What's your take on it? 


I’ve actually been working on something to make fun of alternative comedy at the show. I think it started with people doing comedy in alternative spaces to comedy clubs. It became like alternative music; it was vaguely outside the mainstream and then it became the mainstream, although the spirit of it remained "alternative."


Before the 1970s and 80s, there weren’t comedy clubs, there were just cabaret spaces. Then comedy blew up. And then comedy was murdered in 1991 by a bunch of asshole in blazers. There was such a need or desire for stand-up that people who couldn’t actually perform for an hour were doing just that. Or people who were very mediocre could make a living doing comedy because there was a mic in some sports bar, and people would come.


Lots of the act that are termed as "alternative comedy," like Demetri Martin, are now all people with TV shows, with movies. Those acts are alternative in a sense, but not in the sense that their comedy is underground; it’s just different. It’s like a beautiful painting that’s sometimes annoying, but generally great.


I’m very close to being able to describe it.


Good effort. What do you have coming up in the near future?


I have my own comedy festival coming up in September. I did last year one as a joke and it was fun, so we’re now doing it again. We had a show called "One of Each," featuring one of each kind of minority. (We’re going to have a show called "Gays and Blacks" this year.) We had an awards show before the actual festival began. The whole thing was fun and silly. Oh, and we had John Oates as a surprise guest.


How did you get John Oates?


Raw power.



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