Brian Posehn at Crackers 

click to enlarge brian_posehn.jpg

Brian Posehn

Where: Crackers Comedy Club, 6281 N. College Ave.

When: 8:30 p.m. Thursday; 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Admission: $17-$22

Reservations: (317) 255-4211

You know Brian Posehn – if not from Just Shoot Me, where he played the character Kevin Liotta for 29 episodes from 1999-2003, then from The Sarah Silverman Program, where he's Brian Spukowski, one of the wacky gay neighbors.

And if the name doesn't ring a bell, his face certainly will. The comic/actor is, after all, someone who describes himself this way: "I look like I'm made of farts. I look like a bunch of farts put a people costume on and went, 'Let's go out to dinner tonight.'"

Posehn (pronounced Po-SANE) makes his Indianapolis standup comedy debut this week at Crackers in Broad Ripple, where he'll be telling his share of fart and weiner jokes. Read this interview and you'll understand why.

Nuvo: Have you played Indianapolis before?

Posehn: I don't think I have. I've been to Bloomington. I hear good things about the club and I'm looking forward to it.

Nuvo: You're touring behind a new CD, Fart and Weiner Jokes. First question about that is: Got a good fart or weiner joke that would work in print?

Posehn: Not really. My jokes are so – even though they're dick jokes, they're stories. They're harder to tell. I should have one ready. If I'm going to call my record that, I should have one to throw right at you.

Nuvo: Any hesitation about putting your jokes on CD? Some comics think that kills the jokes for the live audience; others think it's like music – people come out to hear their favorite jokes done live.

Posehn: For me, once it makes it to the CD, it's time to retire it. If it makes it on the CD, that means I've been doing it already about two years. Almost all the stuff on the record, I'm working on getting it out of the act and replacing it with brand new stuff. The act I'm doing now is partly the record and about 20-25 minutes of new stuff. As I go on, I'm taking old things, ejecting them and throwing new bits in.

That's more for me. It's to keep it fresh. I know some people like to hear jokes again. But a lot of the fans that I draw are hardcore comedy people who watch everything you do and then they'll watch it on the Internet, so it does kind of kill those bits. And they want to hear something new when they come to the show.

Nuvo: You've said your interests are comics, heavy metal and horror movies. So, what are you reading, listening to and watching these days?

Posehn: My favorite book – it's been my favorite book for the last couple of years – is The Walking Dead. It fits in with the horror because it's a zombie book. That's pretty much my favorite thing, so when it comes down on Wednesdays – Wednesday is new comic day – that's the first thing I read. There's this book Fables I really like – it takes famous fables as if they actually exist in our world. It's a pretty cool premise.

And music, I listen to the old stuff all the time. I try to keep up with what the kids are listening to, heavy metal-wise. I'm an old man and I'm pretty set in my ways. But there's a bunch of new, great stuff. There's a band called Skeletonwitch. I like this band Priestess; they're on their second record. And this band Lazarus A.D. They're all young, but they're playing the style of music I grew up with. It's interesting that kids who weren't even alive when thrash-metal was around are playing it. That's cool. That's always been my favorite genre of heavy metal.

Nuvo: If you had hair, would you whip it around?

Posehn: I used to. Back in the day, yeah. And I had metal-neck the next day.

Nuvo: Did you start out as a comic or an actor?

Posehn: Comedian. I didn't even have any aspirations to be an actor, really. I was just doing standup and living in San Francisco when the bottom of the whole standup industry started to fall out in the early '90s. So a couple of my friends and I figured we had to go to L.A. If we wanted to stay away from day jobs, we had to start doing something else besides standup. So I started writing and acting and it all worked out.

Nuvo: When did you move to L.A.?

Posehn: I moved to L.A. in '94. And I got really lucky. My first audition, I booked. It was for a sitcom. It was just a walk-on, but that doesn't happen all the time that the first time you even try, you get one. It came pretty easy. I was pretty lucky, and I'm pretty lucky to be working for as long as I have.

Nuvo: says your first job was voice work in something called Heisei Tanuki Gassen Pompoko.

Posehn: What that is, it's an old movie. I did the voice like 10 years ago, but the movie is 20 years old. So they're using that as the original date. But my actual first gig was Empty Nest.

Nuvo: So what was that Japanese movie?

Posehn: Disney redubbed it in English. I never saw the final version, but among people who love anime, it's really well respected. I play a fat raccoon. Luckily, I haven't been typecast as that.

Nuvo: You must like voice work. You seem to do a fair amount of it.

Posehn: It's fun and it's also the easiest job that I have. You don't have to memorize anything. If you can read, you do OK. I'm apparently a decent reader. But it's really fun and I love being in the room with other people who do voices. I'm doing one right now and I have a blast every time I go in because I've been friends with a couple of the people for years. A bunch of goofballs standing in a booth talking into these mikes. It's really fun.

Nuvo: Can you tell me more about it?

Posehn: It's from Genndy Tartakovsky, who did Powerpuff Girls and Clone Wars on the Cartoon Network. It's a new show for the Cartoon Network. We're coming out in the summer. It's called Sym-Bionic Titan. A princess and her guardian and this robot all come from outer space and land in our world. To fit in, they start going to a high school. My robot becomes a teenage nerd. It's a lot of fun. I do two voices – I do the robot voice and then a nerdier version of it.

Nuvo: You also did a voice on Kim Possible. Was she just a little too hot for a cartoon character?

Posehn: (Laughs) She's still supposed to be a teenager.

I have a little boy right now. He's not quite watching animation yet; he's only 11 months. But it's going to be nice I can have stuff I can actually show him because a lot of my sketches and my standup I can't really show to children – especially my own. He'll have to wait. But luckily I can show him Kim Possible and some of the other stuff I've done.

Nuvo: The Sarah Silverman Show is hilarious, in part because it's so deadpan. Are there great outtakes?

Posehn: We definitely all laugh. Sometimes the situation will be so silly that you can't help it. But we've also been doing it for so long. It takes a lot to make me laugh and break out of the scene. When I did Just Shoot Me, almost everybody commented on the fact that it took a lot to get me to break or forget a line. Once or twice it would happen and the whole cast would be shocked.

It doesn't really happen a lot on Sarah. But there'll be things where Jay (Johnston), especially – I've been friends with him for so long and he makes me laugh harder than anybody – if he improvises something that I don't see coming, there's really nothing I can do. I will give it up.

Nuvo: I imagine that show is especially fun to work on because no subject matter is really off limits with her. Do you ever cringe at some of the ideas?

Posehn: No. I think my standup is like that. It's the sensibility that we share, that a lot of my friends share. We all came up together and we're all around the same age and none of us really have any taboos as far as our comedy. There really hasn't been anything she's done or said on the show that I've gone, "Really? We're going to do that?" We always get to it in a smart, funny way. Whatever screwed-up topic we're doing, I think we handle it well.

Nuvo: You might be best known for Just Shoot Me, which may be the most mainstream thing you've done. Did you like that show, or was it just a nice paycheck?

Posehn: I loved that show. I was actually a fan of it before I went on it. It was such a strange thing. I was looking for a regular gig at that point, and I said to my manager and said to a couple of friends, "This is a show I could see myself on. It's not the worst thing on TV." It had funny characters and sharp writing. It wound up where I did one episode and they told me, "Hey, we'll probably bring your character back." I'd heard that before, so I said, "Yeah, all right. We'll see." And they did bring me back for 30 or 40 episodes.

Nuvo: Anything else you're working on now that you want to mention?

Posehn: I have a new video that should be everywhere on the web in a week or two – it's called More Metal Than You. It's on my record. I did an animated video for it. I just saw the final product and I'm really happy with that. And I'm just staying busy. I'm on the road all the time and I'm doing a pilot for Comedy Central that, hopefully, if we don't go back to Sarah, I'll be working on this show for a while. I'm more behind the scenes. I'm writing and directing it.

Nuvo: I read where you were quoted as saying you thought Sarah's show was done.

Posehn: Yeah, we all kind of have a bad feeling. Our ratings aren't doing very well, and that's super important. Our last episode is tomorrow (April 15), and I think that might be our last episode ever. I hope we get to do more, but I'm pretty realistic most of the time. I think it would take a lot for them to bring us back.


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