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Interview With Comedian Brian Posehn

Brian Posehn
Courtesy photo

Brian Posehn is one of the most recognizable comedians on TV and film, with roles on classic 90s programs like Mr. Show and Just Shoot Me, to his recent role as Sarah Silverman’s giant gay-stoner neighbor on Comedy Central’s The Sarah Silverman Program (RIP.)

He’s toured as part of the Comedians of Comedy; a group of comedians that performed at live music venues as opposed to traditional comedy clubs that also included Zach Galifiankis. Posehn has released two comedy albums; 2006’s LIVE! Nerd Rage! and his most recent album Fart And Wiener Jokes was released this past April. He’s based out of Los Angeles where he can be seen performing at clubs and alternative venues such as Largo and Comedy Death Ray.

We managed to sit down and talk to Brian about his early years in stand up and what its like being the lone metal head in a tour bus full of indie rock-loving comedians.

Where did you start doing stand up?

Brian Posehn: I started in Sacramento, California. In old town Sacramento, it was in this downstairs bar that was an annex to this old new wave club. They had comedy nights one night a week and it was actually kind of fun working there until I went to a real club.

How do you like performing at rock venues as opposed to comedy clubs like you did with the Comedians Of Comedy?

People are starting to get it. We weren’t the first people to decide to get a couple of headliners together and tour together. Obviously we were an answer to the big arena Blue Collar and Kings of Comedy. It was just kind of us doing our own thing. I know of other people that are trying to get their own tours going like the Comedians of Comedy. For us it was just perfect. Getting four people that are around the same level and going out and getting our fans and people that are sick of comedy clubs to come out. A lot of our fans are younger and can’t afford the two drink minimum and parking and all that stuff.

How long is your standard set when you go out and perform?

When Patton and I go out, it’s about twenty five minutes to a half an hour a piece. Or maybe less if we have a guest on the bill; we might do around twenty minutes. When I go out on my own, I’m doing forty five minutes to an hour. Then I have to do bits that I don’t like doing anymore just until I write more material. Hopefully at the end of this summer I’ll have a new set.

The show worked out great because you’re all very unique characters. Especially in your musical tastes – did Zach, Maria and Patton give you shit for listening to metal?

I get so much shit from those guys for what I listen to.

Do you give Patton a hard time for listening to Yo La Tengo?

No because, goddamn, they’re really nice guys. But that music doesn’t do much for me. I’ve definitely given him shit for some of his music. Zach (Galifianakis) listens to even gayer shit. Like Teagan and Sara and fucking Cat Power. I’d tear my eyes out if I had to listen to one song of that stuff.

She’s hot though, Brian.

Yeah, but then she starts singing and whining. There’s all this indie rock shit like the new Grandpas Jacket album that I can’t even keep up with.

Were you ever interested in college radio during the eighties and early nineties?

I had some Replacements records, I get it. I just sort of took a different turn.

How did you end up getting signed to Relapse Records?

I had recorded the record on my own, and was selling them with the help of someone over the internet, and decided to go bigger. I had also been talking with Scott Ian about writing songs at some point and recording it. I went and met the guy who started the label he was super cool. I met up with him in Philly while on the Comedians of Comedy tour and that convinced me that they were a cool place for me to be. This is their first comedy venture and they’re really excited about it, so it’s been great.

On track thirteen off your 2006 comedy album Nerd Rage, you talk about quitting marijuana. Is that just a joke or have you actually quit smoking?

That’s just a joke. I am not quitting pot. I don’t plan on quitting pot. It was just a joke I wrote several years ago when I actually was thinking of quitting pot. So the joke isn’t a lie, it’s just a lie now. I don’t do it in my act anymore. Once I record it, that bit is burned. Most of the record I’m starting to phase out of my live act.

How often do you go out and do stand up on your own? I rarely see your name in the LA club listings.

I don’t. I kind of don’t have to. The only time I really set up a lot of stuff is when I’m writing and I have a lot of new material that I want to work out before I go to clubs that I care about. I do the UCB Theatre Comedy Death Ray show, it’s the perfect alternative experience for us and it’s a great place for us to work out bits. David Cross does it when he’s in town. Patton (Oswalt) does it like weekly. He’s more prolific than any of us, he’s constantly writing. I really only go out when I have new shit to try.

How long have you been a home owner?

For about four years now. I bought it right after 9/11, I was living with a couple of people and one of them was so pro-Bush that they drove me out of the house. I moved in with my now wife and became an adult, bought a house and everything.

Does Brian Posehn have a message for the children?

Put that thing down!