Eugene Mirman is one of those special Brooklyn comics who can simultaneously rep the block while also poking fun at it. As a staple in the Brooklyn comedy scene, he’s been known to go out of his way to mock us — from telling jokes while playing the theremin on stage to opening the Flotsam General Store, which delivered hand-foraged leaves, uncomfortable sex dice and more to anyone who placed an order for a Mystery Sack from the artisanal outlet.
On Friday, Eugene will release his new 9-volume, 7-LP album I’m Sorry (You’re Welcome), a comedic compilation unlike anything you’ve ever laid ears on. The album opens with a full stand-up set recorded live last summer in Seattle and quickly turns into an absurd audio experience, including a guided meditation, an erotic soundscape, a digital drug pharmacy, 45 minutes of crying, an introduction to spoken Russian and 195 orgasms. To be honest, it’s probably the perfect soundtrack for a Brooklyn house party.
We talked to Eugene about what it costs to make a super-sized concept album, what he spends his Fox primetime paycheck on and some of his favorite spots in the borough.
One of my favorite components to the album is the digital drug tracks, ranging from marijuana to apple cider vinegar. Did you actually do any of those drugs as part of the production, or did you mostly just watch YouTube videos of EDM shows for inspiration?
A lot of it was that, and having a concept of what we wanted some of it to sound like, and watching other digital drug things. But no, I didn’t do any of those drugs. I don’t really do drugs, so really it’s funny that I’m like, ‘this is what PCP is’ when really I don’t know. I hope it’s a little like what PCP is.
Fingers crossed that fans reach out with feedback.
I’m hoping some people are like, “you really captured what it’s like to have an amaretto sour!”
The album also features the first-ever fuckscape, an erotic new age soundtrack for sexing to. Has the fuckscape played any role in your new marriage?
My wife and I don’t listen to my fuckscape, but I have played it for friends, and it turns out it’s a fun thing to listen to at parties. I guess it’s very possible that someone at some point will have sex to it. I don’t insist that anyone does, but they’re welcome to.
At Brokelyn, we’re particularly interested in the weird economic side of things. Your new album is of epic proportion, nine volumes containing 500 tracks. How much more expensive is it to make a nine-volume album versus a single volume?
It was twice as expensive, I guess. A lot of it isn’t super-complicated — the crying, I recorded alone, and I recorded [the album] largely at a studio where my friends in Boston record music. Me and my friends Matt [Savage] and Christian [Cundari] collaborated on this project for years. We would meet up on weekends a lot, and I would go to Boston for the week and we’d work on stuff. But I think the manufacturing of a seven-vinyl set is much more expensive than the making of one CD or digital album.
Speaking of the 45-minute crying segment, how did you prepare for that? Did you rehearse, or think of something incredibly sad?
I wanted it to actually be 45 minutes of crying, so yeah — I tried to earnestly cry for 45 minutes, and I did, which turned out to be a really surreal experience. But there’s also this part where you’re like, ‘I just have to keep doing this.’
Are you typically a crier?
I’m a moderate crier. A light crier. Certainly, I love crying for comedy — but I don’t think anyone is necessarily going to listen to 45 minutes of crying.
We’ve watched you on the come up, and we’re stoked to see the success of Bob’s Burgers propel you further into the spotlight. What’s the craziest thing you’ve purchased now that you have that primetime Fox money?
What’s funny is, I haven’t bought anything crazy. I put a down payment on a house, so now I pay a mortgage. I have a car now, and I’ve never owned a car — meaning I bought my first car at 40. I did get a shellfishing license for $13, which really only lets you go clamming. But I’m very excited to have a house. People who see it would be like, “oh, that’s totally a pretty good house.”
Is there anything you wish Gene Belcher could say on TV but can’t?
We get to improvise a lot, and it’s super fun. There’s a scene that me and Dan [Mintz] and Kristen [Schaal] recorded where it’s the kids talking about why they love visiting their grandfather, and I say, ‘he lets me eat all the Tylenol I want!” It made everybody laugh a lot, and they animated it because they really loved it, but then they were like, “we can’t have a child saying that on TV…but we’ll put it on the internet later.” [Watch it here].
Let’s talk about the Gowanus Whole Foods: you made some art that you briefly campaigned to have displayed in the store around the time it opened, but do you actually shop there?
I do occasionally shop there. I did the [art] bit on Seth Meyers’ show, and then someone from Whole Foods [corporate] contacted me. I was very close to being in touch with the people at the Gowanus Whole Foods — we had a meeting, then it got moved, and then it was very clear that they were just placating me because on television I asked to put up some paintings. I might revisit the idea now that the album is coming out, but I don’t think they display anyone’s paintings. Maybe they sell someone’s canvas bags? I’ve had various cafes and businesses reach out to say they’d love to display my artwork, but I really just kind of want to have a show at Whole Foods. Maybe I’ll do it at some point — Whole Foods has rejected it, so now I should approach Key Foods. I’d be the first person with a full exhibit right by their specialty rabbits.
It seems like such an easy thing for Whole Foods to do. There’s so much shit going on in that store already, who would notice?
It’s true that if I just put up the paintings and left, it’d be months before anyone realized that a person with authority wasn’t the one who did it. Maybe I will.
As someone who left Russia at the age of four, what would you say are are the best spots for a Russian experience in Brooklyn?
In general, Brighton Beach is just a fun place to go. There are lots of fun restaurants — we went to one called Skovorodka that’s really good. If you want a crazy experience, you can go to places [in Brighton Beach] that have a buffet meal in addition to incredible amounts of dancing. It’s dinner and a show, but the show has costume changes and music that’s largely in Russian.
There seem to be more and more incredibly talented comedians leaving NYC for LA in recent years — people like Kurt Braunohler, Kristen Schaal, Jenny Slate, Max Silvestri, etc. Thoughts on that?
The thing that’s sad is that there isn’t enough industry in New York to keep these people here. To me, that’s the part that’s sort of a bummer. I don’t think I would have ever thought before I moved here that there’s not enough work in New York City. That’s the reason everybody moves to LA; they’re not moving because it’s too cold here. Something like 70 percent of my friends have moved to LA. But there are also people who move here, and new comics that rise up who are really funny.
The Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival highlights some of those up-and-coming NYC comics. What’s coming next for the festival?
I think we’ll keep it in New York, maybe Boston, and go from there — maybe at some point we’ll film it; we’ve done it for so many years but never made it into a special. Either next year or the year after, or maybe for the 10-year anniversary. We’d figure it out. Maybe it would be a little bit of a documentary.
Our last question is something we ask every Brokelynite: what’s your cheapest Brooklyn secret?
I love going to the Chinatown in Brooklyn — that’s a favorite place of mine to go walk around. I would say a combination of the Brooklyn Chinatown and the Brighton Beach area, because there’s a lot of neat food stuff there.
Follow Meghan for more tweets live from the comedy frontlines of Brooklyn: @meghannn.