Eugene Mirman's crafts undeniably brilliant comedy, but it's the type of off-kilter brilliance that—when presented with the fact that he was actually put into special education classes as a kid—makes you think, “Oh yeah, I totally could see how a teacher would mistake him for being... 'special.'” Mirman (also known as the voice of Gene on Bob's Burgers) reaches the peak of his comedic insanity on his new 7 LP comedy record I'm Sorry (You're Welcome).
While the first disc contains a standard live standup recording from his performances at Seattle's own Columbia City Theater in June 2014, the next six descend into pure comedic madness. There's an album entitled Eugene’s Comprehensive Sound Effects Library featuring over 100 tracks of Mirman vocally making sound effects ranging from “Cat” and “Doorbell” to “Chinese Woman Eating Lasagna” and “Birth Control Pills Telling A Little Boy Not To Eat Them.” On Digital Drugs, he creates aural soundscapes that attempt to recreate experiences of drugs like peyote and LSD (for the love of all that is holy, go listen to “Apple Cider Vinegar” immediately). There's an album called Over 45 Minutes of Crying which is exactly what it sounds like. (“I sadly have had to listen to it over and over to make sure all the audio was correct,” says Mirman. “I’m a victim of my own album.”) The other self-explanatory discs include A Guided Meditation For The Thoughtful Body, Introduction To Spoken Russian, and the sensual (?) sounds of Fuckscape. (And that's just stuff that made the cut. Mirman said he had 30–40 other ideas, including an album that you'd theoretically play for different animals in order to make them laugh.) If that sounds both riotously hilarious and completely overwhelming, you are correct! (Note: There is no prize for being correct.) I'm Sorry (You're Welcome) is out now via Sub Pop, and available in digital, vinyl, bathrobe, and chair forms (alas, puppy form is sold out).
This Thursday (November 12), Mirman returns to town as the I'm Sorry (You're Welcome) tour makes a stop at the Neptune Theatre. In anticipation of the show, we chatted about how the album was influenced by '60s comedy duos, '70s rock, and absurd local TV newscasts for the latest edition of our Points of Reference series.
“Let It Bring You Along” by Rick Nelson
There’s a ton of pop culture stuff that influences me, but then as I actually started thinking about it, I was sort of like, “Oh wait! There’s a guitar solo that's at the very end of Fuckscape, and that solo was inspired by a guitar solo in a Rick Nelson song called “Let It Bring You Along.” And it’s funny, cause we were talking about how to end the Fuckscape, and I was like oh, I’d always imagined it would end with a solo that sounds like this, and then I played this rick nelson song. I always thought it would be fun to end it with a rocking ‘70s solo. I think that solo just makes me think of whatever sex was in the ‘70s. [Laughs]
Coyle and Sharpe
There’s a comedy team from the ‘60s called Coyle and Sharpe, and they would sort of do this man on the street interviews that were really ridiculous. It was basically a radio show in San Francisco in the early to mid-‘60s, but it was incredible. And now there’s a podcast that has a lot of their bits. They were also doing street pranks at a time when it was certainly so unusual. They would come up to people and be like we’d like to erase you knowledge of language and replace it with a language that we would like to sell you. You could pick one of four languages and buy it from us. And then they would be like we want to grow wheat on your head. Just a lot of ridiculous stuff that they did in this very earnest tone. It was very absurd and surreal, but treated extremely earnestly, like newsmen. And so I’ve always loved that sort of tone.
The imagined idea of Hudson River Wind Meditation by Lou Reed
I would kind of say Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground in terms of kinda their sense of humor. But partially I say it because I know that Lou Reed has this meditations album that he made. And though I had never heard it, I never listened to it, [just] the idea of that sort of thing. I always thought there was something funny about me making an album to meditate to. But I also really like the idea of saying that I was influenced by what I imaged his meditation was like. So the idea that Lou Reed meditation album was the thing I was influenced by.
I sort of fell in love with comedy through Emo Philips. Cause I listened to a ton of standup comedy, but he was the first comic where I was like oh, there’s comedy that isn’t just sort of like ‘80s club-y. His sensibility is surprising; with some jokes you know where it’s going to go, but his jokes you don't know what it will be. He was really great because he had all these unusual topics. He’s really kind of an incredible one-liner comic, but then it’s also couched in this very unusual performance that I really loved.
I don't know how I happened upon it, but there was this a news report from Channel 9 News in Oklahoma. They ran this really funny story about how digital drugs are coming for your family. It’s shot in a way that is meant to terrify people even though it’s really completely ludicrous. They’re like digital drugs could lead to real drugs, which is like saying anything could lead to anything. You might as well not let people watch movies. So that news story is a thing directly influenced the album. Though I’m making fun of digital drugs, they are binaural tones that some claim really change the way your brain perceives things. As a result, my album is illegal in some places because they don't allow digital drugs.
Nov 12 at 8, Neptune Theatre, $21