The Gonz Show: Eugene Mirman

By John Gonzalez | Boston Magazine |

The Mirman File
-Grew up in Lexington and attended Lexington High School; now lives in Brooklyn
-Appears regularly as Eugene in HBO’s Flight of the Conchords
-Performs on 5/9 at the AltCom festival at the Somerville Theatre

You were born in Russia, which doesn’t seem the ideal birthplace for a comedian. No one ever says, "My God, the Russians are a hoot." I think the whole hammer-and-sickle period hurt them. People do say tragedy is a great gateway to comedy, and Russia is a pretty depressing place. There are comics who do a lot of stuff about their family or upbringing or where they’re from, but that’s not really what I do. But I do mention it.

Both Carson Daly and Aqua Teen Hunger Force have featured you, which is interesting because Carson always reminds me of Meatwad. He’s both greasier and rounder than you’d expect. It was totally fine. You’re there very briefly. It’s not like he’s mean or tries to put you in a band or something.

You help 826 Boston, a local writing center for kids. That’s nice in theory, but as a writer, let me tell you: You’re basically encouraging these kids to enter a lifetime of poverty and self-loathing. They’re not necessarily encouraged to become authors, but just to use writing skills in their lives. [Courtesy laugh.] But yes, I hope to create armies of impoverished novelists.

This month you’re appearing at AltCom. What exactly are you the alternative to? I’m not the alternative to dramedies. [Laughs.] No. It’s a catchall—like saying "modern rock" or "alternative music" to describe a certain genre or aesthetic. Basically, it came out of people trying to perform outside of comedy clubs.

A lot of the time, you’re even touring with bands. Do you ever have designs on becoming a rocker instead of a comedian? If I could play any music whatsoever or sing at all, I would certainly consider it. But I’m arrhythmic. I would potentially only be allowed in someone’s terrible avant-garde orchestra.

You won’t even sing for Boston magazine? Right now, you mean?

Yes. Definitely not.