The incomparable Brent Weinbach is releasing an album with ASpecialThing Records Tuesday, September 4, 2012. And to celebrate he answered some questions that I asked him.
Tony Bartolone: How did you get started in comedy?
Brent Weinbach: I started doing comedy when I was three years old by doing gay stuff with my t-shirts and writing songs about poo poo and then performing them for old ladies at Ralph's supermarket. But I didn't really start to find my voice until age seven when I started pushing popsicles out of their wrappers while holding them next to my crotch as if they were my penis. Remember when the Rootbeer/Lime/Banana flavors came out? Rootbeer was probably my favorite, but Lime was really good too. And even Banana I would get into if I put my mind to it.
TB: Who are some of your biggest comedy influences?
BW: I would have to say my greatest, most head honcho, influenza, of them all, would most definitely probably have to be: Rooster. One of the biggest influential moments in my life was when my cousin Ryan farted on the front cover of a box of magic tricks my sister owned. There was a boy dressed up like a magician on the cover who had a silly look on his face and really seemed to go pale at the smell of my cousin's fart. It really seemed like the boy was reacting to the fart. My cousin thought so too, and we laughed and we laughed. One time, my cousin farted into the phone and it really sounded like a high-pitched person saying, "Hello?" R. Kelly was a big influence on me. He's just so funny. I have a theory that Andy Kaufman faked his death and has been posing as R. Kelly in disguise this whole time. Harpo Marx, Rowan Atkinson, late 80's/early 90's Saturday Night Live, Ren and Stimpy, 90's Late Night with Conan O'Brien, radio monologist Joe Frank, Urethra Franklin. These are all important things.
TB: What is the difference between alternative and more traditional club comedy?
BW: There is no difference. People think there's a difference, but I don't think so. It's like gay men versus straight men. There's no difference. They both like sucking penises. But truth be told, I don't even believe alternative comedy is a real thing anymore. I think at this point, it's just a buzz word to make things seem cool and different and hip. I do acknowledge that there are different sorts of audience members that exist in the world, not just for comedy, but for film, music and so on, and if a comedian gears their comedy to a certain type of crowd and that crowd only, so be it. But any good comedian should be able to perform for any crowd, or at least want to make that their goal. A comedian who appeals to an audience member whose interests include JacquesTati and Ryuichi Sakamoto should also strive to connect to an audience member who likes Spryro Gyra and High School Musical 3. It's their responsibility as a comedian. And for the record, I am fan of all four of those things just mentioned. High School Music 3 was my favorite movie from 2008. I saw it on opening day and I applauded out loud in the movie theater during the curtain call.
TB: Is there any separation between the two styles?
BW: I just don't see what those two styles are in terms of "alternative" versus "mainstream." I recognize styles in terms of one-liners, story tellers, African booty scratchers, etc. And within that, deadpan, high-energy, New Romantic, avant-folk. water soluble, and so on. There might have been an "alternative" style at one point in the past, but I can't tell the difference nowadays. But what do I know? I'm just some out of touch, 18-year-old twink from Hollywood, FL. And by Florida, I mean Parrot Jungle. See what I mean?
TB: Where is your favorite place to perform?
BW: Though I do have highly tender memories of my time with the Chuck 'n' Buck Meat Munch at the Hippocampo Menagerie on S. Congo St. in Willow Willow, WA, the truth is, I don't really have a favorite venue or place. I like small theaters where the audience is close and the intimacy is strong, such as the Tomcat All-Male Revue.
TB: Do you make a conscience effort to be different from other comics?
BW: No, but I do make a concscious effort to be genuine. If I write something or try something that doesn't feel like me, I stop doing it. For example, one time I tried on a pair of jockstraps and thought, "This is not me. This is Joffrey. This is all Joffrey." Later, I reached for my crotchless brief and felt much more at home. The custom cheek pad and pelvic sponge made the whole experience that much more exciting.
TB: Do you chuck material because it seems too similar to things that have been done before?
No, but I do chuck my masculine napkin after I'm done with it.
TB: What are some your future aspirations?
BW: I want to make movies and TV shows. I want to make a movie about my experiences on airplanes. One time, I saw a middle-aged woman get up out of her seat and forcefully clinch her butt cheeks back and forth. It was very compelling. Another time, I asked a Latino steward if I could lie down on some empty seats. He fluffed my pillow and said, "You sure can, boo boo." (Men's Pillow provided in part by Bottom Pieces, Inc.) I want to make a TV show about Kimmy Gibbler and her cockamany Bat Mitzvah.
TB: How do you define success?
BW: To me, success is when you can walk into Ralph's and buy anything you want. Ultimate success, however, is when Ralph can walk into you and buy anything he wants.
TB: Speaking of buying anything you want, you do not own a cell phone. Why is that?
BW: I like making plans and being free and being normal, the way everyone was back in the 80's. Kill your cell phone.
TB: What inspires you to write comedy?
BW: Conversations with my sister Laura, conversations with my best friend Scott, and conversations with legend of screen and stage Wally George. In fact, my sister Laura inspired/wrote half of the answers to this interview.
TB: What do you think is funny?
BW: Penises and penis faces.
TB: How would you compare your sense of humor with that of the average person?
BW: The things that make me laugh the most are more absurd and abstract and open-ended, and also things that are just blatantly juvenile and low brow. How does that compare to the average person? Here's how to find out. Find your way over to S. Congo St. in Willow Willow, WA, but make a left when you pass the Montgomery Ward. Then, ask a random person standing on the sidewalk what their stance is on the following terms: strapless overall, corn dogs, big dogs, room for growth, men's pillow, crotchfull chap. Not only will you discover the answer you're looking for, but you will also learn the true meaning of world penis.