Comedy Q+A: John Hodgman, Author, Performer, and Jurist


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John Hodgman is coming to town in advance of the apocalypse and this is much cause for rejoicing. The apocalypse he describes (and is exploiting) was announced by the Mayans many centuries ago and was the impetus for the hagiography of John Hodgman's knowledge, which was complete with the release in October of the final installment of his potentially final trilogy, That Is All. The book, in addition to More Information Than You Require and The Areas of My Expertise, are all available on Amazon and at local book purveyors of printed material. While the printed word is highly recommended, it seems that an incredible amount of creativity went into the audio version of That Is All, a 16-hour romp complete with original musical pieces, skits, and hilarious readings by everyone from Jon Hamm and Paul Rudd to Dick Cavett and Brooke Shields.

You can see Hodgman regularly on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as one of the show's Resident Experts, much in demand during this election season. He also collaborates with on a hilarious podcast called “Judge John Hodgman,” where he settles problems in an audio courtroom and issues rulings for the plaintiffs and defendants. Born and raised in Brookline, this swing through Massachusetts is a bit of a homecoming for the multitalented Hodgman and a rare opportunity for fans new and old to see him perform a headlining show. Tonight, he performs at The Wilbur Theatre.

You are involved in a lot of events and releases this fall: the release of your new book, touring and doing two shows in Massachusetts (The Wilbur, The Calvin) and all over the country, being a podcast adjudicator on “Judge John Hodgman,” working on The Daily Show, and other TV and film productions. You really are doing so many great things these days!

John Hodgman: Let me correct that, “I do so many good things.” Actually, “I do so many pretty good things.”

I understand that you are even recording some “Judge John Hodgman” episodes today. How did that get started?

John Hodgman: I didn't want to do a podcast that was purely a humor podcast because that is well-served everywhere else, and I didn't want to do an interview podcast because that is equally well-served—there are geniuses producing in that form. But I do enjoy talking to people, which is one of my favorite things to do when I'm on tour performing. I enjoy being reminded of how smart and funny people are all over the country and not just in New York City and parts of California. I enjoy telling people what they are doing wrong and how they should be living their lives, so this has all fit together very nicely with “Judge John Hodgman.” If it's funny, I'm very happy, and if it's entertaining, I'm very happy, but most of all, I'm dedicated to Justice.

It seems that the participants in “Judge John Hodgman” are, at least verbally, agreeing to the justice you mete out.

I do agree that the item that is missing from the “Judge John Hodgman” enterprise is enforcement, but I am going on pure faith that my verdicts are being followed to the letter. Most of these people seem to be, more or less, trustworthy. But since we don't have enforcement, I may recruit, via the great Hivemind, a Court of Judge John Hodgman Sheriffs to go out into the land to enforce my injunctions and orders.

Does the release of That Is All mark the third and final installment of the trilogy of knowledge? There will be no more?

Yes, that is true, you are well-stocked with facts. Because of Ragnarok, that December 21, 2012, is the final date because the world will end via flood, flames, and other f-words, leaving only John Cusack alive, and we know this because of the movie 2012. If it doesn't happen quite the way I predicted, I am incredibly grateful that I have the Mayans to blame it on.

What can we expect from your appearances in Massachusetts?

In Boston two things are going to happen: 1. The routine antics of the Deranged Billionaire (persona I've created), speaking as freely and without the censorship that only a deranged millionaire can, as we've seen with Mitt Romney. 2. I will also be joined for the first time on land in over a year by my good friend, Internet superstar Jonathan Coulton. This is something of a reunion for the two of us, so we will be co-headlining and sharing the stage. To what degree he will be talking about the apocalypse, I do not know. I think he'd like to believe the world will go on forever. He's an Internet utopian, after all, as well as a feral mountain man.

I think we can look forward to you entertaining us as we trudge toward the apocalypse, like one last glass of sweet wine before the lights go out forever.

Oh please, one last dry gin Martini, garnished with a packet of official Hodgman-brand survival mayonnaise.

For more information on all things John Hodgman, check out his website.