Comedian TJ Miller Wants to Tickle Hitler, Have Sex with Obama and Make You Laugh
What was it that made you want to work through different avenues -- do the improv, do the acting. You said earlier that it wasn't just to become famous, so what is it about it that you enjoy so much?
I will say that it is that basically the philosophy that drives everything that I do as a comedian, is that life is tragic by nature and that you need to be distracted from it or given an escape, a small period of rest from that tragedy. Otherwise you will go crazy. It is the nicest thing to do for someone.
Yes. I absolutely agree.
You can talk to them about politics, and if you make them laugh, what a great thing -- everybody loves to. Also, my general philosophy is that the meaning of life is happiness. Those things combined, it is like: Why not make other people happy? And I also subscribe to the philosophy of John Stuart Mill -- he is this fucking dope philosopher who was like, "You have got to make the most amount of people the most happy." That is ethics.
So would you say you are a utilitarian comic then?
Yeah, you could say that. Utilitarian comedian -- that is great. What a wonderful turn of phrase.
I watched the interview you did fairly recently in Kansas City where you were soaking wet, and it was hilarious, but I almost felt bad for the interviewer because I don't think she had any idea how to handle what you were doing.
Never feel bad. Lots of people say that. You don't have to feel bad for them. Some people are like, "You wouldn't even let them talk or anything." Every single interview I do on television is always insane on purpose. At the end of it they go, "Dude, thank God, thank you for coming in." Every day they have to deal with this bullshit, and we forget that for them it is a nine-to-five job. They are always pretty psyched about it. Pretty weird.
In that situation I would have expected her to walk out and be like, "What is wrong with this guy? Why did he make a scene?"
I am a mile a minute. Some of them are like deer in the headlights, but that is OK. That's the nature of the game.
TV is very far-reaching. The movies are the annex; they have the most permanence in people's lives. Here's another conversation: Have you seen Billy Madison, an Adam Sandler film?
Oh yeah, absolutely.
Everybody loves Billy Madison more than they love Obama. I am not joking. If somebody loves Billy Madison, they like it more than they like Obama, probably. That's why movies are so important. That is why I do that stuff, not because you make a lot off movies or you are saying that you are rich, just because you have to try and make the most people laugh that you can.
Unfortunately, this is just a subjective opinion, standup is the only...standup is the funniest thing. Movies are fucking amazing; they're amazing. Seeing a packed theater and laughing at movies is so fun, but standup is the best one. You are going to laugh harder at standup; that is why it leads the charts. Improv can be pretty terrible sometimes. Standup can be bad, but then it's funny that it's that bad.
It's just uncomfortable.
If you are open to that. If you can laugh at yourself you can be like, "I can't believe I paid money to see this guy. How ridiculous." But, it's the best one. It's also the most difficult one, and the most rewarding one. It makes sense.
Since you are coming to St. Louis to do a standup show, do you have a regular set that you perform? I get the impression that you base a lot of it off of atmosphere.
Are you laughing at me?
No, it's just funny. I don't see myself because I am me. I cannot imagine what people think about me; I just have to be ridiculous and see what happens. It is so funny. Of course that would be a question, but it is so insane to me. Anyway...
Really, but also yes. Yeah, I have a foundation from which I build other stuff, but if someone yells something, I'm like, "What? What did you say?" Then they explain it didn't make sense, and I talk about how it doesn't make sense and it makes me think of something else and I start talking about that and riffing. I have done entire sets like that; I have done hourlong shows that are completely in the moment, on the spot.
But for the most part I know my opener, I know my closer, I know a fair amount of material that could be on the show, and that's it. It always doesn't work; it doesn't matter when you're an absurdist comedian. You're already asking the audience to go in any direction, so you don't need a segue. I'll tie things into that but that's it.
Continue to page three for more of our interview.