My Comedy Hero: Josie Long on Eugene Mirman
- Brian Donaldson
- 24 October 2017
As Josie Long joins Jonny & The Baptists and Grace Petrie on the Lefty Scum tour, she picks a US indie poster boy as her comic idol
Eugene Mirman is to my mind the most inventive comedian in the world. I first heard of him through a friend in about 2005. He played me phone pranks Eugene had done to take the piss out of homophobic American conservatives. They managed to remain warm and good-natured without losing a political point. Above all they were so silly that we were in hysterics. I saw his Edinburgh show the same year and he gave out different coupons to the crowd. I still have mine which says 'this coupon is for a hug when you're feeling blue'.
He's infinitely creative in his stand-up experiments. He recently released a stand-up album, but instead of simply putting out the comedy show, he released a seven-LP box set including 'a fuckscape' (for making love to), an LP of digital drugs and over 45 minutes of crying. It's inspiring to see him create stand-up shows and albums exactly as he thinks they should be, not according to the obvious thing to do.
I was lucky enough to support him on tour last year and one set would go from political Facebook surveys he'd placed and collected during the election to a fake tourist calendar he'd painted of the seaside town where he lives, and that he drops into shops unasked for. His stand-up is never not delightful, smart and surprising at once, and I always laugh a lot. I think as a stand-up you get inured to watching comedy and harder to make laugh but I find myself giggling like an idiot as I never expect his comedy directions.
On top of all of this, Eugene is a really generous performer and person. He set up The Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival ten years ago, almost as a joke, which became an institution in Brooklyn and gave hundreds of proper weird, awkward and unusual comedians support and encouragement, which is also his year-round MO too. He cares about the comedy community and really loves comedy, but will also do a ridiculous Theremin solo for 20 minutes onstage, so what's not to love?
Lefty Scum tours from Sunday 29 October–Thursday 9 November, Sunday 18 February, with more dates to be announced.