Eugene Mirman

Jonathan Zeller

The brainy, bizarre Eugene Mirman has appeared on Flight of the Conchords, written a book called The Will to Whatevs and released the album God is a Twelve-Year-Old Boy with Asperger's. He hosts Tearing the Veil of Maya on Sundays at 7:30pm at Union Hall. Below, he discusses his show, the finer points of Kips Bay and his disdain for pushy time travelers.

If an aspiring comic wants to be just like you, what advice would you give that person?
Eugene Mirman:
I'd say they have to wake up each morning at 8am, answer all their Facebook messages, write for 10 minutes straight, get drunk and then go back to sleep.

Where in the City do you perform?
I perform all over New York, except near Kips Bay. Also, is that just a movie theater or a neighborhood? Regardless, I won't go there, sorry.

If someone asked you to make him or her laugh with a quintessential Eugene Mirman–style joke, what joke would you tell?
I'd probably just recount the third season of Mad Men. They'd naturally become confused, and then I'd surprise them by setting a nearby car on fire. Comedy is just like war—it demands surprise—and you can't let the enemy (in this case, someone wanting to hear a joke) set the expectations.

Have you ever bombed a show?
I've had lots of awkward shows here, but I think my worst bombs have been out of town. I once performed in Las Vegas at some weird, depressing casino off the main strip, and almost the entire audience had respirators and was frail. I remember mentioning the Internet and, as I was saying it, realizing they hadn't really heard of it. When I got offstage, the host, trying to be nice, asked me if for my next set I could do jokes about being Jewish or farting. I told him I wished I had some, but I didn't. It was a sad time.

Other than acts you're a part of, who are some of your favorite NYC-based comedians?
Hannibal Buress and Kumail Nanjiani are two of my favorite stand-ups. Also, there's a kid named [H.] Jon Benjamin who's very funny—he's like a Jewish Chris Rock.

Do you have a favorite place in the City to see comedy?
Though it's not a full-time comedy venue, I'd say The Bell House is a favorite place of mine. There are also lots of wonderful spaces that just have one night of comedy [per week]—Gabe Liedman and Max Silvestri have a great show on Wednesday nights called Big Terrific at Cameo in Williamsburg, and Bobby Tisdale has a fantastic show on Fridays called Wards of Merkin in Greenpoint. But mostly, I stay home and watch all the different Law & Orders and various Ken Burns documentaries about American stuff.

How would you respond if someone said to you, "I'm busy. I can't see every two-bit comedy show in this town. Why should I pick yours?"
My response would be just like everyone else's: "Why is this person using the phrase 'two-bit'? Is he a time traveler from the 1920s?" Regardless, he sounds very negative, and I'd rather not have him at my show.