I’m a long time stand-up comedy fan. I remember the very first time I ever heard stand-up was when I was 6 years old. I was with my parents at this yard sale in our neighborhood and I found a cassette of Bill Cosby’s “Himself”. I bought it for 25 cents and it changed my entire life. (Well, it changed as much of my life as one can realistically have built after only 6 years on this god-forsaken earth. Sorry. That got unnecessarily bleak.)
As I got older, I consumed everything I could. I listened to every stand-up album I could get my hands on, and watched every comedy special I could. I watched every comedian that was on Letterman, Conan, and Leno. I watched every “Comedy Central Presents”. I would watch BET’s ComicView almost religiously. I wanted to see and hear everything.
As an adult, having a connection to stand-up has been so much easier. Especially with Twitter around. I’d say that about 50% of the people I follow on Twitter are comedians. It’s an excellent tool for helping them stay connected with their fan-base, and allows them more opportunities to engage people. This is where I found Brian Gaar. Someone had retweeted one of his jokes and I immediately started following him.
His jokes about video games and superheros struck a nerve with me, mostly because… I like playing video games and reading comics (you’re surprised, I’m sure). But, I think one of the main reasons his jokes about that stuff resonate with me so much, is because there aren’t a lot (hardly any really) comedians doing jokes about the X-Men and playing Double Dragon for 4 hours.
Brian recently released his first comedy album, titled, “Never Gonna Be Famous”. There’s got to be something liberating about titling your album that. It’s like a declaration of “what do I have to lose?”. You’re basically giving yourself the freedom to say WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT (and believe me, he does). But, it’s also a kind of ironic title as well. As of the time I’m writing this, Brian has the #2 comedy album on iTunes (a week makes a HUGE difference on those charts). That’s pretty fucking cool if you ask me. I’d say that there’s a chance you at least have a minor amount of fame to have achieved that.
I’ve listened to the album over a half dozen times already. I can’t stop listening to it once I’ve started. I can’t just listen to one joke, I have to keep going. Basically what I’m saying is this album is like cheap meth and it will absolutely ruin your life, but you’ll be trapped in a euphoric world of superheroes, cop-sanctioned house parties, and Street Fighter. So, it’s totally worth the loss of teeth and loving-human-relationships. Brian was cool enough to let me interview him without judging my Chris-Farley-Show-like-awkwardness. In typical 4LN fashion, it gets kind of nerdy. (Also, yes the title of the article is a reference to Street Fighter II. I considered calling it “Brian Gaar: The Animated Movie”, but I didn’t want to commit Brian to something he couldn’t deliver on…)
4LN – How long have you been doing stand-up?
Brian – I’ve been doing stand-up seriously for almost six years. Before that, I’d done comedy sporadically opening for friends’ bands in various small Texas towns. And those crowds were as open-minded and tolerant as you’d expect.
4LN – Can you pinpoint the time, or moment, when you decided to more seriously pursue stand-up?
Brian – Yes. I was coming off a video game bender that had lasted approximately two years. One day, I put down the controller, rubbed my eyes and thought, “That was awesome. I think I’ll try stand-up now.” Then I picked the controller back up and played for another two years. But eventually, at the tender age of 32, I went to my first open mic and gave it a shot. And here we are. Emailing each other when I should be working.
4LN – Who are some of your comedy influences?
Brian – Comedy-wise, David Letterman, David Cross, Jon Stewart, Bill Hicks, Jeff Foxworthy and Chris Elliott. And of course, the hit TV show Friends. Especially the one where Chandler got caught doing auto-erotic asphyxiation and everyone laughed (except for Chandler, who died and then came back in the next episode because it’s TV).
4LN – Do you think that having a talent for stand-up and being a nerd correlate for you, or do you think someones nerdiness serves their talent more?
Brian – I don’t know. I’ve never thought of myself as nerdy, I just like the things I like. Have I ever “had sex with a woman?” No. But I recently got a free download code for Mario Kart 8, so who needs love? Am I right, dudes reading this with porn open on eight other windows?
4LN – You’ve just released your first album, “Never Gonna Be Famous”, and listening to it at work got me reprimanded for laughing and “being disruptive”. Where are some other public places you’d recommend people listen to your album?
Brian – Ideally, after dinner surrounded by your family. My Elmo/911 bit is something to be enjoyed by children and racist grandparents alike. In fact, that’s my target demographic. Especially old people who think that things are so much worse now, even though they lived through institutionalized racism and homophobia, but they’re all “Waa waaa, everything sucks now because I’m about to die.” God, I hate old people.
4LN – I’d like to toss you some “lightening round” questions now… Best Street Fighter game?
Brian – Street Fighter II, the original one. Because that’s the one they had at Aladdin’s Castle at the mall in Wichita Falls, Texas, where I sadly grew up. One birthday, I asked my mom to drop me off there for the day. And she did, after giving me $10. Which was a lot of money back then. And at the end of the day, I was pretty good with Blanka.
4LN – What graphic novel or comic should everyone be required to read?
Brian – For me, it doesn’t get better than Chris Claremont’s run on Uncanny X-Men. Also, Infinity Gauntlet.
4LN – Most underrated video game?
Brian – Solomon’s Key. It was hard and the main character was a dude named “Dana,” which was illegal in Texas in the 80s. Also honorable mention for most horrible game is Hydlide for the NES. Which was a gigantic piece of shit and I’m still mad about that $50 wasted
4LN – I hear you’re a big wrestling fan. What’s the greatest injustice in the history of wrestling?
Brian – I’d say the Montreal Screwjob, but I read Bret Hart’s autobiography and by the end, I was ready to strip him of the belt, too. So much crying.
4LN – Best Nic Cage movie?
Brian – Raising Arizona. Also, all of them.
4LN – Pick one historical figure to battle one comic book character… who’s in your match-up?
Brian – George W. Bush vs. The Comedian from Watchmen.
4LN – Can you write us a brief obituary for any video game character of your choice?
Brian – RIP E. Honda. Once everyone figured out how to counter the Hundred Hand Slap, you were just a fat dude in a diaper.
4LN – Last thing, when I told the other guys that I was doing this interview with you one of them, a dude named Bill Clark, wasn’t as excited as the rest of us because you make fun of Aquaman, and he loves Aquaman (It’s an unhealthy obsession really). He even wrote an article for us about how Aquaman is better than Namor. Bill is a borderline basement-dwelling-neckbeard. Anyway, as kind of a “fuck you” to Bill, could you elaborate a little more on why Aquaman is terrible?
Brian – Look, Aquaman IS terrible. He lives in the ocean and talks to fish. What are they talking about? “Hey, I found some food yesterday, turns out I’m an idiot and got a hook in my mouth because I have a fish brain.” The only way Aquaman would be cool is if he lived in a fish bowl and the rest of the Justice League had to feed him periodically.
I highly recommend you follow Brian on Twitter, and check out his website, www.briangaar.com, for more videos and links to buy his new album on iTunes and Amazon!
– UPDATE – 02.06.15 –
Yesterday Brian released his first ever 1 hour special on Vimeo. It’s titled, “Jokes I Wrote At Work”, and you can download it for the low price of $4.99 just by following that link. Trust me, it’s 100% worth it.
Brian Gaar – Jokes I Wrote at Work – Trailer from Type55 Films on Vimeo.