Magazine article The New Yorker

Funny-Sounding

Magazine article The New Yorker

Funny-Sounding

Article excerpt

FUNNY-SOUNDING

Eugene Mirman, the comedian, is forty-one; he has a round face and looks a little bruised around the eyes. He is known for his standup, and for playing television characters named Eugene ("Flight of the Conchords"), Gene ("Bob's Burgers"), and Yvgeny ("Delocated"). He has lived in Park Slope for fifteen years, but, until one afternoon the other week, he had never been to the Prospect Park Zoo. On his visit, he bought a soda, and--watching a sea lion sitting up on its tail, in expectation of fish--he recalled how he'd recently tried, and failed, to come up with thirty or forty minutes of material that could be described as jokes for animals. "Jokes in the language of each animal," he explained. "Doing something that would elicit laughter from them--whether it involved music or noises or whatever. It wouldn't be 'Two dogs walk into a bar.' It would be much more, like, barking, and then a theremin."

Mirman was married on Labor Day last year. The humorist John Hodgman acted as m.c., and there was a pig roast. Not long before, Mirman had finished making an album that starts with a standup show, taped in Seattle, followed by a series of deadpan, part-improvised studio recordings that are "all potentially things you can buy recordings of," Mirman said. "Except, I suppose, for the orgasms. And the crying." This material, in which there's no voice but Mirman's, lasts for several hours; it includes a guided meditation, a library of sound effects, and a Russian-language lesson. (Mirman was born in Moscow.) On vinyl, the album is seven LPs long.

During a slow walk around the zoo, Mirman recalled the many ideas that, like comedy for animals, he had not been able to execute. He had kept a list on his computer. The list began, "Talking over ocean sounds, helping someone go to sleep, recorded live at an ocean." Also: "An internal monologue to listen to while lying in bed in the morning or afternoon"; "Going hunting for the first time"; and "Commentary for a film ('The Perfect Man')." He explained, "That's a movie, I think set in New York, about maybe someone who's a baker." A real 2005 romantic comedy called "The Perfect Man" had annoyed Mirman when he saw it on television; he liked the idea of a peeved commentary about an insignificant movie. ("Nobody who struggles at a cupcake place would have a two-thousand-square-foot apartment in Park Slope! …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.