Brian Posehn: Save the rocking for the stage

Mess with Texas | live music and comedy in Austin, Texas
Mess with Texas

Brian Posehn has appeared in HBO’s Mr. Show, the documentary Comedians of Comedy, and most recently as Sarah’s “big, orange, and gay” friend in The Sarah Silverman Program. This weekend, he’s coming to Austin to perform during both days of the Mess with Texas party, a two-day live comedy and music mini-festival (March 16–17).

That Other Paper What does it mean to be metal?

Brian Posehn To me, it’s never been about looking metal. It’s been inside of me since I first hooked into the music and the spectacle of bands like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. Being metal is having a deep love for a genre of music that most people don’t get. I’m just as metal now as I was when I had hair down my back, was super skinny, dressed in black and hated my mom. Metal is the feeling of being an outsider, but still [being] part of something huge. It’s been a part of me for so long. It’s like being tall. And handsome. I forget I’m metal, tall, and handsome now and then.

TOP What does it mean to rock?

BP It sounds cheesy, but it’s a groove, a feeling, an energy, an attitude. When something is truly rocking, it makes me so happy. It’s funny, but I’m always the one guy smiling at a Slayer show. Music rocks, people can rock, my dog rocks. Most things in life don’t rock, though. Like diseases, poverty, or washing dishes – they don’t rock at all.

photo courtesy Brian Posehn 

TOP Could you compare and contrast rock and metal?

BP Yes, I could. Metal is rock that rocks harder. Rock is less rock than metal.

TOP How much time do you dedicate to rocking everyday?

BP I have to be honest – I don’t really rock much in my day-to-day. I save the rocking for the stage. I bet I really sound like a douchebag. (It’s not my answer – it’s your question.) I do head-bang in my car, though. That must look ridiculous.

TOP When is it okay to wear the shirt of the band you’re going to see?

BP Never okay. Except for Iron Maiden.

TOP What do you think of the current state of music criticism?

BP I don’t really read too many mainstream music magazines. I’ll read Blender on a plane, because it’s light reading – bullet-point reviews like “this album sucks” or “this album rules.” The other big ones just aren’t speaking to me anymore. It’s like a friend who has awful taste in music, so you just decide not to talk to them about music anymore. I trust the British music press more than our own. It seems like they have a better bullshit detector than mainstream American music mags. For my metal reviews I trust Decibel, Revolver, Metal Hammer, and my old favorite Kerrang!

TOP Do you think bad comedians know they’re bad?

BP Since I’ve never been a bad comedian, I wouldn’t know. Or maybe I was and I didn’t know. Maybe I suck now and I have no idea. Great, thanks for putting that in my head. Honestly, it’s my experience that most people that totally suck at something think they are awesome. And a lot of people who think they suck are actually awesome.

TOP Since good and bad are so subjective, what are some indications of good or bad comedy?

BP Good comedy makes you laugh, and bad comedy makes people you hate laugh.

TOP Do you think outsiderdom and alienation are essential components of being funny? How about in your own experience?

BP No, but it helps. I think there are different types of funny. There’s the self-deprecating type of comic (where I fall in). And then there’s the average looking guy with the funny point of view (like Seinfeld or Louis CK) and the cocky, charismatic, funny guy (like Eddie Murphy). For me, being an outsider is part of who I am, so I used it. And I think it’s part of what makes me funny. I don’t think Artie Lange or Eddie Murphy ever got picked on, but they’re still funny.

photo courtesy Brian Posehn Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, and Zach Galifianakis at SXSW 2005 

TOP What sort of advice would you give to someone who gets picked a lot?

BP Kill them. In front of their friends. They’ll probably stop. Jk, lol. Actually, try not to make it worse. I think I made a mistake by letting them know how much it really bothered me. I feel my extreme reactions made it fun to pick on me. I also tried to have a low profile by spending lunch and morning break in the library. Not sure that helped. Once kids got to actually know me though, I’d make friends. I had totally turned it around by my senior year and was actually pretty social.

TOP When you were younger, did you look forward to growing up? How did you imagine the older you?

BP Just wanted to be eighteen and get away from my hometown of Sonoma, California. I always imagined that I would basically stay the same. And I think I have.

TOP Where did you find solace when growing up? What sort of creative outlets did you have?

BP My room, metal, comic books, movies, video games. Creative outlets? I drew a lot as kid and wrote short stories.

TOP What are some comic books that you’d like to see adapted to film? Which should be left alone?

BP My comic book, The Last Christmas, the true story of Santa after the apocalypse would make a great movie. The Walking Dead would be a great cable series. As far as what Hollywood should keep their hands off of, I would say they should stay away from Daredevil and Elek… Oh, wait. Already ruined.

TOP What’s something that you’d like to see anthropomorphized and given its own feature length film?

BP Can I say my balls?

TOP What are some of the things that you collect and what are some of your most prized possessions?

BP Can I say my balls? I have a lot of statues and action figures, but I’ve stopped buying them. I really only collect comics now. I’m pretty proud of my collection – a lot of classic ’60s and ’70s Marvel and DC in really good condition. I only buy pretty books. Now when I go to conventions, the dealers know what I like, and they steer me right to the pristine books.

photo courtesy Brian Posehn “Why would I punish you Steve, when it’s you who released me from a Tab-free prison of my own design, and led me to the discovery of my new favorite beverage… TAB? “ 

TOP What does it mean to be a nerd to you?

BP Read the above answer. Anybody who talks about buying pristine books at a comic con might be a nerd.

TOP In Comedians of Comedy, I saw that you collect a lot of Simpsons stuff. I’m curious to know: how long you’ve been a fan, one of your favorite quotes, if you think it’s jumped the shark (if so, when), and your expectations for the movie?

BP I was a fan of [Matt] Groening’s Life in Hell, so when I heard he was doing stuff for The Tracy Ullman Show, I was excited to watch. So I guess I’ve been a fan since the beginning. The line that made me laugh the hardest was in that Rashomon episode with Lisa’s spelling robot and Cletus the slack jawed yokel said to Homer, “That was amazing. You must be one of those TV magic queers.” I screamed when I heard that line. There have been a million funny lines, but that will always be my favorite. I don’t know that it jumped the shark as much as my interest has simply waned over the years, because it seems like they’ve been in every possible funny situation. I’ll see the movie – I always enjoy movies more when I don’t have a lot of expectations.

TOP What are some projects that you’re currently involved in?

BP While I wait to go back to work on The Sarah Silverman Program, I’m working on movie ideas and talking about doing more comic book work with my buddy Gerry Duggan, the guy I wrote The Last Christmas with. Also working on stand-up and music for my next album that I want to start recording this summer.

TOP What do you like to do after a performance?

BP Hang out with the other comics and wind down. If it was a fun performance, I usually have a lot of energy to burn, so I stay up late. If I’m on the road I’ll call my wife right when I get off stage, especially if it was fun.


More Mess with Texas coverage

Read more interviews with comics appearing at this year’s Mess with Texas party.


graham's picture

As a spectator I realize that quality comedy is not easy to make and it takes a lot of work and talent to make it work. I miss going to a live comedy show, they are more fun than any other kind of entertainment.