Brian Posehn: More funny than you

RobinVanSwank5
By Dave Sanders

You can’t accuse Brian Posehn of being highbrow. You can however accuse him of being funny. Along with being funny, he’s also a giant metal head, rather a giant and a metal head. The six-foot-six comedian makes no secret of his passion for metal, and masturbation, farts and fake tits. With his latest CD, Fart and Weiner Jokes about to be released Posehn will let it all hang out.

Having been doing stand-up for as long as he has, Posehn knows the value of keeping his material new. “I think the refining comes from not being bored with the bit, but trying to keep it fresh from night to night, and also just organically finding new angles as you talk about these things, whether you find it on stage or you find it off stage thinking about the bit. I love the fact that if I do a bit for a year, it’s really gonna change. From the end of the year, it’s gonna be almost unrecognizable from the way it started out. That’s one of the things I love about touring and getting to perform a lot is watching how these bits get a life,” says Posehn.

When it comes to music, once you have a hit, you have to play it night in, and night out. Look no further than Motorhead and their song “Ace of Spades”. But, does Posehn have his own “Ace of Spaces?” According to him, “no, no there isn’t. You have to kill those babies eventually. It was tough after Nerd Rage not to do certain jokes, I love telling that puppy time joke for a while and I love doing the George Lucas bit, but at a certain point you have to let them go. Especially with standup, because it doesn’t work the same way as music. If I was still doing my “Ace of Spades”, people would complain, ‘oh, that’s all he’s got?’ It’s a different thing. Your jokes can live for a while, but with me, my transition period, or my period of writing a new bit and then having enough material for a new record is two and a half – three years, because I’ve got so much other stuff going on, not just standup, so it takes me a little longer to write a full act.”

Much like metal, comedy has also splintered into sub-genre after sub-genre. As an alternative comic, Posehn doesn’t necessarily enjoy the mainstream success that some of his compatriots do. With that, Posehn weighs in with his perspective on the state of comedy, saying “I think it’s always going to be a mixed bag. People like what they like, and aren’t really aware of the other genres. I think that most people that listen to Dane Cook don’t even know what alternative comedy is. They would just think ‘that’s not funny. I don’t like that guy, ‘cause he’s weird looking and he has a beard and he’s fat. I like my comics to have nice abs.’” He goes on to say, “with me, with metal, I like a bunch of different types of metal, and it just depends on my mood, what I’m gonna want to listen to, whether I’m feeling old school and want to listen to traditional, or do I want to listen to old thrash or new thrash, or death or grind or whatever. I see that less in comedy, I just don’t think that somebody that mostly listens to alternative, whether it’s David Cross or Patton (Oswald) or whatever it is also going ‘hey, you know what I’m also in the mood for a little Carlos Mencia.’ It doesn’t work like that. “I’m gonna listen to Blue Collar stuff today!” No.”

When asked if he has a specific type of fan, Posehn is quick to respond, saying, “I think I appeal to a couple different types. I notice at least three different main types of fans that I have, and that’s the metal heads that like me and maybe don’t like any other comedian, then there’s the comedy fans, fans that aren’t just alternative fans and follow all sorts of quality comedy, and then there’s the nerds; the people that love the references and the fact that I have other things in common with them. The comic book fans or the horror movie guys. Those are the main fits. I appeal to guys with glasses that like heavy metal, guys with glasses that don’t like heavy metal, cute girls with glasses and cute girls with tonnes of tattoos. I call my fans “the black t-shirt crowd”. I think that’s one thing we definitely all have in common, whether you’re a metal guy or an indie guy, we’re all wearing black t-shirts.”

Being the metal fan that he is, Posehn also has very clear ideas on what he likes. When it comes to his current playlist, Posehn’s has a classic feel. “New stuff by my favourite old bands. I love the new Overkill record, Ironbound, it’s super great, classic thrash. It’s odd to be an old guy and have all these bands I’ve liked since I was a teenager still making great music. The last Testament record was as great as it was, Exodus is still making great music. I love staying true with my thrash bands that I’ve always listened to, but then I like the new generation of thrash, bands like Skeletonwitch, I like Litch King, they bring humour to it. I always loved bands like D.R.I and S.O.D. that did the crossover stuff but also added humour. I’m always looking for stuff like that. I dig Municipal Waste, they’re one of my favourite bands that have come out in the last couple years. I love 3 Inches of Blood; they’re not new anymore they’ve been around probably more than 10 years now, but of the newer generation, they’re one of my favourites. I’m digging some of the new traditional metal. Like Icarus Witch. I’m not totally into White Wizzard, but I like what they’re doing. I like bands that are bringing solos back, bringing the Dio style of song writing, writing about witchcraft and fast cars,” says Posehn.

Posehn has a penchant for combining his passions as well. On his last album, Live In: Nerd Rage, he sang his own song, “Metal by Numbers”. On his upcoming album he has another, “More Metal Than You”. Both are a tongue-in-cheek look at metal, and the inspiration for “More Metal Than You” is rooted in recent history. “Both my songs have kind of come from me commenting on what I see going on in the world of metal. “Metal by Numbers” was kind of obvious, it came from me watching Headbanger’s Ball, and it (“Metal by Numbers”) showed the old guy that loves a certain type of metal being unimpressed by the new style and then also noticing that there was a formula to it.”

““More Metal Than You” came from an experience that happened just last year, where being a metal fan, and I talk about it directly in the record on the song where I say that a lot of times when you meet other metal heads, you have this bond. But then, another thing that I noticed was you’ll meet other metal heads and it’s instantly about them judging you about who’s more metal, or them thinking that they’re more metal then you, because they like grindcore but you only listen to Pantera. The song came from a guy sort of forcing me to jump through hoops. It was Robb Flynn from Machine Head. I meet him and I tell him that I liked Vio-lence, as a kid, and he looks at me, and I guess he thinks I’m a poseur ‘cause he doesn’t know me, he doesn’t know anything about me, which is fine. I don’t expect everybody to know who I am when I meet them. He went ‘oh yeah? Well name five Vio-lence songs.’ So I did, but in my head, I’m like ‘man, we’re grown-ups and you just made me jump through hoops.’ That’s where the song came from. He’s gonna want to beat me up the next time he sees me.”

http://www.myspace.com/brianposehn

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.