Pretty good comedy: Eugene Mirman prepares to tour U.S

Comedian Eugene Mirman’s “Pretty Good Friends” tour is aptly named — those are the only kind of folks he wants to work with.

Eugene Mirman's comedy is both crispy AND nutritional!

Right On! Press

Eugene Mirman’s comedy is both crispy AND nutritional!

Joe Kellen

During one fateful day in sixth grade, Eugene Mirman knew he was going to ace his book report. He hadn’t actually read the assigned novel — instead, the future comedian came into class and lip synced a few awkward minutes of a Bill Cosby routine.

“I still don’t really know why I thought that would be appropriate to do,” he said.

That incident landed him in special education courses for a while, but Mirman has come a long way since.

The renowned comic voices Gene on “Bob’s Burgers,” had the Mayor of Boston declare May 3 as “Eugene Mirman Day” this year and is now in the middle of his “Pretty Good Friends” U.S. tour with fellow comedian Daniel Kitson.

The “Pretty Good Friends” tour, which stops Sunday at the Assembly at the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis, is emblematic of Mirman’s method of choosing collaborators.

“So much of what I’ve done has been about finding people I like and doing things with various friends,” he said. “It makes it 100 times more enjoyable.”

“Pretty Good Friends” got its start under the name of “Tearing the Veil of Maya” in 2006, gracing the dingy basement of Union Hall in Brooklyn with comics from the “alternative” scene such as Tig Notaro and Kristen Schaal. It still runs as a weekly show today, and it’s only one of many Mirman has produced — the comic also birthed the famous “Invite Them Up” as well as the yearly “Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival.”

Mirman’s role as a producer stems from his time as an undergraduate at Hampshire College, where students create their own curriculum. Graduating with a major in comedy, the comedian had to create his own performance opportunities as coursework. He held an open mic in the basement of his dorm, and his senior project was performing an hour of material at a local venue that he booked himself.

This tenacity has defined the rest of his career. Mirman recalled handing out posters for his shows in downtown Boston post-graduation.

“I was out at 11 at night, which is a weird thing to do in Boston in the ’90s,” he said. “If you’re not on TV, and there’s no good reason to see you, you stand outside and hand out flyers.”

That was when he was able to establish his absurd, blunt sense of humor. Mirman often uses the classic setup-punchline format, but he also reads lists on stage, presents short plays and once bought out full-page ads in New York newspapers so he could publically spread a hate letter to Time Warner Cable.

Mirman said his success in the comedy business is dependent on his willingness to continue working hard.

“The truth is, it’s a job that’s entirely freelance,” he said. “I think that I have the same types of anxieties I did 10 years ago. I always think it’s weird when people pinpoint a specific moment when they were ‘discovered’ — it doesn’t work that way.”

Mirman’s advice to other comics has always been simple: “Start writing and performing in the next few months, and then do it for ten years.”

It’s evident that, for him, the daily grind isn’t so much a grind as it is a calculated chisel.

“I love the variety; I love to produce shows and convey myself through comedy,” he said. “But, hey, I also like barbecuing a lot.”

 

What: Eugene Mirman and Daniel Kitson
When: 8 p.m. Sunday
Where: The Assembly at The Woman’s Club of Minneapolis, 410 Oak Grove St., Minneapolis
Cost: $20