Eugene Mirman is one of the rare comics that has found a way to mesh his more writerly sensibilities with those needed to perform stand-up. When he’s not making droll observations about his daily life or throwing out absurdist monologue-style quips, he’s walking his audience through a conceptual humor that relies on his ability to hone his frustration at organized religion, celebrity, and dumb parking regulations into sharp and bizarre letters and online posts.
It takes a unique kind of mind to want to dive into every strange opportunity like using an “Ask A Pastor” website to try and rile up a clergyman with questions like “What’s a nice way to get out of a marriage with someone you don’t know real well that you met at a bus stop/casino?” or “Why am I not allowed to use the bathroom at my friend Max’s house?” knowing that you’re just stockpiling material for the future. Most of us just keep that to ourselves.
Mirman, though, doesn’t want to just hide in the shadows, lobbing textual grenades at unsuspecting people. He really wouldn’t have much of an act otherwise. As much as he is visibly amusing himself by taking out a full page ad in a Portsmouth, New Hampshire tourist guide to complain about getting a ridiculous parking ticket, he is very right to think that there’s enough people in the world who will share in his delight.
That’s, again, what makes him such a unique breed of comic craftsman. Any of us can post silly things on our Facebook pages that might amuse our friends and family members, but there aren’t many that can come up with the barbed and outlandish stuff that Mirman does. Unless there are more people in the world than I’m aware off willing to write and laminate signs that read things like “Do not use your cellphone ever again” and “Walk out of here crying and ask for a lawyer” to hang in bathrooms, he’s going the extra mile and it shows.
Outside of that material, this special is a great way to see how confident Mirman is onstage. He’s never been a retiring type, but he’s willing to roll with the punches of a riotous Q&A segment and willing to pull people onstage to stage a fake wedding with him as the officiant. And he doesn’t shy away from the fact that his life has changed now that he’s a public figure that can hobnob in Mexico with the former members of R.E.M. and can get recognized in a Guitar Center for his work on Delocated. Because, like everything else in the special, his small measure of celebrity yields some pretty funny moments in his life, like getting shaken down by the Mexican police with Michael Stipe.
Mirman is thus at the perfect place for a comic: he can fill up a small theater in Tucson, Arizona to film a stand-up special, and keeps getting interesting work, but isn’t so famous that he can’t see the absurdity in some of the things happening around him. I wish him all the success in the world while also hoping he remains at this level for a good long while. His comedy will likely be the better for it.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.