When the Comedians of Comedy debuted nearly 11 years ago Brian Posehn was already a good decade into a burgeoning career of TV and film acting, standup comedy, writing, and voice work. Since then he has continued to grow his own tiny creative empire, a hazy kingdom of heavy metal, geek culture, and dick and fart jokes. “It all just sort of organically happened. I couldn’t be happier that everything I’m into all kind of tied together.” Posehn’s new digital album, Criminally Posehn, recorded live at Comic-Con, showcases the comedian at an interesting point in his life: aging and maturing, ever so slowly, while still leaving room for raunchy irreverence. I talked to Posehn about the new album, phony nerds, and the work he’s most proud of.
One thing that surprised me about the new album is that the title, while clever, had no reference to farts.
I wasn’t really doing any fart jokes on this one, so I didn’t see a need to stick to fart puns.
Is there any special meaning behind the title?
No. Just a pun with my name. When I thought of the name I thought of the art, based on the Quiet Riot Metal Health album cover. I thought of some other ones and then my manager, of course, offered other word play using my name, like the old Cypress Hill song Insane in the Posehn, or something like that.
The album cover is great. Are you a true Quiet Riot fan, or do you like them ironically?
I’m old enough to remember them coming up. I was a fan of that first record. That was before metal got really heavy and crazy. It was 1983 when that record came out. There were bands like Iron Maiden out there, but I was a kid in Northern California and mainstream metal still had its appeal at that point. I don’t really like anything ironically. Everything I like is for real.
I’m the same way. I’ll say that I like the new Katy Perry song and somebody will say, “Oh, is that a guilty pleasure?” I don’t have any guilty pleasures. I just like what I like. It’s all pleasure to me.
Right. That’s the way I am. A lot of my favorite movies might be guilty pleasures to other people, but to me they’re just movies that I like watching.
I always wonder, when somebody says something is a guilty pleasure, why they feel bad about liking it.
Yeah, who are you hiding that from? And then you just told me so…
I think using the term “guilty pleasure” is a way of protecting your ego in the same way that a lot of people misuse the word “nerd” now. “I like five different cheeses on my pizza. I’m such a pizza nerd.”
I’ve definitely heard nerd misused.
As someone who represents what a true nerd is, do you take offense to the misuse of that word at all?
I don’t take offense to it because I would go crazy if every time someone…like, as a heavy metal fan when I see one of the Jenner kids throwing the horns I roll my eyes immediately. People are always misappropriating nerd culture. “I just have to watch Girls every week. I’m such a nerd.” It doesn’t work like that just because you like something. Nerds are obsessive over the things that we like.
Speaking of nerds, I noticed you recently put your podcast Nerd Poker on hiatus.
We’re going to bring Nerd Poker back. We’re going to start up soon. It’s not going to be at Earwolf anymore. We’re just going to put it up ourselves. We’re hoping to have something for people to listen to in October.
Over the course of your career you’ve been pretty diverse in where you put things out through. You just mentioned putting your podcast out yourself, your new album is on Rooftop, you’ve done stuff with Relapse, you’ve got a special that will be coming out on Seeso in January. Is that a product of how media is consumed now? Do you just put things out wherever you can and then direct your fans there?
For me it’s where it makes the most sense. With Rooftop and Seeso, that was with a guy I’d worked with before from another company and it made sense to work with him. With Relapse, it wasn’t an answer to what my friends were doing, but it was kind of my version of what my friends were doing. David Cross, Patton Oswalt, and other friends were going with Sub Pop. To me going to an indie metal label made that kind of sense. I like Sub Pop and probably would have fit in well there, but I knew I was going to do metal songs on those records. For me it made total sense to pick one of the stronger metal indie labels. My manager has always been really helpful with that, just knowing how I kind of like to do things my way.
You seem to have a bit of a luxury where you can be 100% yourself and still make a living doing it. That’s every creative person’s dream.
It is. It wasn’t something I ever set out to do. It all just sort of organically happened. I couldn’t be happier that everything I’m into all kind of tied together.
When your name comes up people often say you’re best known for Mr. Show and The Sarah Silverman Program. What are you least known for that you wish you were more known for?
That’s a really good question. Those are my two favorite shows that I worked on and my two favorite credits. But I would say my other acting. I’m really proud of Uncle Nick, this indie thing I did last year. I wish more people could have seen that. It’s a Christmas movie, so the people that distributed it are going to push it again at Christmas. And The Five Year Engagement. I’m really proud of what I did in that. I got to be really funny in it. I feel like a lot of my cameos in movies I’m in one scene and then I’m gone. Sometimes my character doesn’t even have a name. I don’t have a problem with that. Those checks cash and the projects were fun to do. But it’s cool to have a character develop and be in more than one scene. In The Five Year Engagement I was in through the whole movie, which was fun. I think it’s dismissed as a date movie, but I always have guys tell me how funny it is, but then they always sneak in how their wife or girlfriend forced them to see it and they liked it anyway. No one should be forced to see that movie. It’s just a good movie.
I noticed that as you’ve been promoting some of your recent appearances you’ve been talking about doing all new material. Is that in preparation for the Seeso special that will come out in January?
Yeah, I’m recording already. Criminally Posehn was recorded July 2015 in San Diego at Comic-Con. This one I’m recording in October in Portland. It’s the quickest turnaround I’ve ever had. Right after I recorded the last special I went to Just for Laughs in Montreal and already had 10 new minutes because I had suffered a head injury. When I recorded Criminally Posehn I had just suffered whiplash. No one could tell, but during my act I was totally favoring my neck. My son gave me whiplash by kicking me in the face. So now I have a 10 minute bit about my six-year-old son trying to kill me. The material has just generated itself faster this time.
I recall at one point you mentioning that you stopped smoking weed a few years ago because you had your son.
That was one of the primary reasons. It was also to prove that I could do it and that it wasn’t a crutch for my comedy or for my life.
On the new album you say that you’re “back so hard” on marijuana.
Did you feel that the time you took off let you know that you were in control enough to start up again?
Yeah, but even since I recorded that I’m not back that hard. It was mostly to prove that I could do it. Then I tried it again and got more material.