Eugene Mirman Understands the Human Condition

Comedy Features Eugene Mirman
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“If I were to ask you of your orgasms, which one was the best, it’d be hard to say,” Eugene Mirman tells me during a phone call from Boston. “Each one is special and there’s none you’d really get rid of. Similar to life, each one has its own special place.”

We’re talking about orgasms because they’re a beautiful part of life, but also because one of the nine volumes in Mirman’s new comedy album, I’m Sorry (You’re Welcome), is ostensibly a compilation of 195 orgasms. These seconds-long clips of Mirman moaning and grunting have names like “Don Draper Has the Flu,” “Waffle House Parking Lot Mix-Up,” “Just a Couple of Lucky Special Ed Teachers” and “Oops.” Somehow they are not the most absurd thing about I’m Sorry (You’re Welcome).

The album’s nine volumes are spread over seven LPs, which is larger than the entire discographies of many iconic bands. It includes “an erotic soundscape for lovebirds and adventurous friends,” a “comprehensive sound effects library,” Russian lessons, ringtones, voicemail messages and almost a full hour of crying. There is a volume titled Digital Drugs, which is a spoken word and musical journey through the benefits and drawbacks of various drugs. There are, again, almost 200 orgasms for your listening pleasure. Oh, and there’s also a stand-up set in there, too.

You don’t even need to listen to it to derive joy from it. If you like collecting things, or are simply a fan of lounging, you can buy the album as a chair or a robe. These special editions come with earbuds and built-in MP3 players preloaded with the entirety of I’m Sorry (You’re Welcome). You can now relax on a lazy Sunday morning in your official Eugene Mirman robe in your official Eugene Mirman chair while Eugene Mirman himself cries vigorously in your ears.

“I guess I thought it would be funny,” Mirman says.

Now that he’s actually done it, does he still think it’s funny?

“I guess. I wanted to make a ridiculous album that had a lot of different sorts of stuff on it. Now that I’m done with it it’s funny to see that it is largely what I imagined. I really wanted to make it come out in these different formats. It’s kind of amazing to hold a robe that is also the album. There still might be more. There might be a dog version, so it’s a collar you’d put on a dog, but it might come as a unit.”

The manufacture of the robe and chairs was outsourced by Mirman’s label, Sub Pop. The album itself was made in Boston, Mirman’s home town, over a number of years. Although Mirman says there were “probably around two or three years of physical recording,” its genesis stretches back much farther than that. “In terms of thinking about it and planning I guess I came up with the idea a long time ago, and had started brainstorming stuff over the last few years before that even,” Mirman recalls. Being able to listen to a man cry, orgasm and tell jokes through a robe does not simply happen overnight.

As unnecessary as it might seem, there’s a power to hearing Mirman at his most vulnerable and intimate, or at least in hearing him make fun of how we sound when we’re in such states. In its extreme indulgence, I’m Sorry (You’re Welcome) reflects America’s most central guiding principle: if it feels good, do it. In releasing a good, long cry, he dredges up the dark muck that churns within us all, and that causes and is then reinforced by our endless pursuit of feeling good. It embraces the pleasure and depression that defines modern life.

Mirman understands the pain of existence. “I was considering having something on it that sort of had the reason I was crying,” he says of the set’s fifth volume, titled, without artifice, Over 45 Minutes of Crying. “But then I thought it was just much, much better to be crying about everything.

“The weight of the world is just one thing. You could cry about everything from micro to macro, which I did. I cried about all issues, from personal to public.”

This wisdom, courage and empathy have all helped Mirman reach the top of the comedy industry. He’s in a position where he can release a nine-volume album as a piece of furniture. He organizes an annual comedy festival that shares his name. He’s on your TV every Sunday night in Bob’s Burgers. Fitting his position, he occasionally gets to hang out with rock stars, as he recounts in one stand-up track titled “The Time I was Mugged in Mexico with Michael Stipe.”

“If you’re going to be mugged by the Mexican police with somebody, I highly recommend Michael Stipe because he is great under pressure,” he advises. “We both reacted with suspicious calm.”

Garrett Martin edits Paste’s comedy and games sections. Find him on Twitter @grmartin.