Dana Gould: The amazing talking man

After seven years of writing for The Simpsons, Dana Gould has returned to his roots in stand-up comedy. In this interview, Dana and That Other Paper contributor Ben Kharakh discuss unruly audience members, effective parenting techniques, and Dana’s upcoming adaptation of Neal Pollack’s Alternadad.

Dana will be headlining this weekend at the Cap City Comedy Club (March 29–31).

That Other Paper When I saw you in Philly, there were some drunks in the audience who you ignored. Was this on purpose or did you simply not notice them?

Dana Gould I ignore drunks and hecklers because ignoring them is the one thing they don’t want. If you just blow past them, they usually give up pretty quickly and go back to staring at their drinks and thinking about cars they’d like to own.

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photo courtesy Dana Gould 

TOP What’s your tactic for dealing with misbehaving audience members?

DG That said, when they really get disruptive I rely on the Pocket Flamethrower I got at Sharper Image.

TOP What’s your tactic for dealing with your children when they misbehave?

DG I usually tell them that if they don’t behave, I’ll murder a unicorn. This also works on hecklers, provided they’re really wasted.

TOP What are some advantages as a parent that you have that your parents didn’t?

DG Anti-depressants.

TOP What’s your opinion on the current state of children’s literature, entertainment, and toys?

DG To begin with, they’re all over the goddamn place! If you don’t start picking up after yourselves, Daddy will murder another unicorn. With my bare hands! Think I won’t?

TOP Knowing that what you’re exposed to at a young age shapes the person you become, what are you going out of your way to share with your child?

DG They know I’m afraid of them. They’re too smart for their ages. Spooky.

TOP If your children ever ask you, “why do bad things happen to good people?” what will you tell them?

DG I’ll say, “The myth of a fair universe is the wishful thinking of a people struggling to justify their belief in a god they know isn’t real. Life is cruel and we’re alone. Who wants chocolate milk?”

TOP How would you describe your religious views?

DG I don’t feel like I have to see something for it to be real. That’s why I believe in God. And the Hulk. And more importantly, She-Hulk.

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illustration courtesy danagould.com 

TOP What sort of role did religion play in your life growing up?

DG My mom sent a ton of dough to Oral Roberts. That money could have been used for my braces. It wasn’t. Do I sound bitter?

TOP Were there any books that you read growing up that impacted you greatly that you’d like your children to read as well?

DG Somewhere along the line I must have a read a book called Let’s Kill Frogs! ’cause there was one summer where that was pretty much all I did. It just hit me this instant how effed up that is.

TOP How did you get involved with working on Alternadad?

DG I had read Neal Pollack’s Never Mind the Pollocks and really loved it. When I got an advance copy of Alternadad and learned it was in development as a movie, I lobbied really hard for the job. Writing screenplays is hard, but not as hard as getting the job in the first place. It’s easier to meet chicks wearing an “Ask Me About Genital Warts” T-shirt.

I know.

TOP Are you finding that your child raising experience is at all similar to that of Neal Pollack?

DG Yes, very. That’s the beauty of Neal’s book. He really nails it.

TOP How involved in the script writing process is Neal?

DG He’s outside my house right now throwing rocks at the windows. (That’s why I’m whispering, by the way.)

TOP What do you think of the opinion some comics hold that having children and getting married would make their stand-up less interesting?

DG It’s not what you talk about – it’s how you talk about it. Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor were married with kids. Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Louis CK… Someone out there thinks they’re better than these guys?

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

DG Funny is funny. I like S.J. Perelman and I like the Three Stooges. In fact, I consider Perelman the Fourth Stooge.

TOP Do you think comedy, music, or art of any kind can change the world?

DG Any comedian who answers that question seriously is an asshole.

TOP Given the chance, how would you change the world?

DG I’d switch Hawaii and Wisconsin for about six months. That’s me. I like to mix it up.

Teaser photo courtesy Dana Gould