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We've had a bunch of funny people from Massachusetts on our show — B.J. Novak, Mindy Kaling, John Hodgman, Paula Poundstone and Lexington-native Eugene Mirman. His stand-up career began in Harvard Square in 1992, the summer after high school. He went on to Hampshire College to major in comedy. He's now known for roles on the hit shows "Bob's Burgers" and "Flight of the Conchords" and for his Comedy Central specials where he shares hours of anecdotal humor on everything from his poor performance in grade school to hotel wake-up calls.
Mirman now lives in Brooklyn, but he returns to this city next week for the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, taking place May 1 through May 4 at the Berklee Performance Center and The Sinclair in Harvard Square.
On his comedic beginnings in Cambridge:
EU: "I would do comedy on the third floor of the Hong Kong restaurant at the comedy studio. And I'd spent years doing it. And then actually, before that, the first place I ever performed — I don't know what it is now but Catch A Rising Star used to be in Harvard Square and I think six months before it closed and before comedy in general went out of business in the 90s I did my first set at the Catch a Rising Star."
On how much this brand of comedy draws on an immigration background:
EU: "I think the there's an element of me probably being an outsider and an immigrant but I don't specifically have lots of anecdotes that have to do with me being like, 'Oy vey! Russia was very difficult!' But I do probably mention it in some stories. And it probably informs the way I look at things. It actually makes me, in a sense, very patriotic. Because I really appreciate the American dream and the fact that you actually can come from another country and then eventually be a comedian and voice actor. So that's pretty good."
On doing voice acting and improv on "Bob's Burgers":
EU: "The thing that's great about it is, we're recording all together. A lot of cartoons, you just go, you do it yourself and then you leave and it's an hour. But we actually spend the day together both in L.A. and New York, so you can try as many things as you want and they cut out what doesn't work. So the difference, mostly, is that you can just take as many chances and then they keep what's funniest."
On not having a plan B:
EU: "I think when you do something like comedy, if it's what you enjoy, you just do it and you don't stop so it's all very incremental. There were years that I was like, it's pretty reasonable that I sleep on the floor on a futon, like, that's what people do. And only by the time you stop doing that do you realize, oh, people don't actually — that's not a — you don't have to do that until you're 30 or whatever."
On whether there's a New England style of comedy:
EU: I don't know whether there is or isn't but I will say that so many of the comics that have defined what comedy is now are from New England and Boston and did start out here. Louis CK, David Cross, Sarah Silverman, Mark Maron, Janeane Garofalo, Conan O'Brien, Steven Wright. The endless list of people who are really wonderful and really define what comedy is now."
- "Documentarian Ken Burns may be best known for chronicling some of the United States’ most influential events and movements, giving weight to such influential topics as jazz and baseball, while also offering high school history students the chance to sleep through The Civil War. For his first foray into something a bit lighter, Burns put together a documentary short on comedian Eugene Mirman as an advertisement for their shared alma mater, Hampshire College. "
This segment aired on April 22, 2014.
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