Eugene Mirman talks about the day comedy died

Brian Tamborello

Eugene Mirman has been pursuing comedy professionally since college — heck, he even designed his own comedy major. Since then, the 42-year-old has expanded beyond stand-up to doing acting work (remember him as the landlord in Flight of the Conchords?) as well as voice overs for hit shows like “Bob’s Burgers,” in which he plays 11-year-old Gene Belcher.

Next Thursday, Mirman comes to Underground Arts to perform stand-up for his Philly fans. We chat about his career beginnings, that time when “comedy died” and the factors that have played into its resurgence.

Gene on Bob’s Burgers is the middle child, a prankster. Do you relate to him at all?
Yes, I think so. He has, I would say, a whimsical love of life. If a modern 42 year-old me was turned into an 11 year-old, it would be Gene.

Is it fun playing a kid?
It’s really fun. I mean, the thing that’s so fun is to get to work on a show like this with friends.
We’ve done the show for a long time, but we’ve also all been friends largely for 15 years or more. I met Loren Bouchard (who created Bob’s Burgers), in Boston in the 90s.

When did you know you wanted to be a pro comedian?
I was pretty young. I did stand up for the first time when I was 18 and I went to college at Hampshire College in western Mass where you can design your own major and I designed a major of comedy.

Comedy seems to be getting more popular as an art form.
Well, when I started, it was literally when comedy died. You know stand up comedy used to be gigantic in the 80s and then in the very early 90s it sort of crashed as an industry. Anywhere that there was a stage or space for a stage and a mic, venues would do stand up but didn’t always have the comics who could make people laugh for 45 minutes.

Talk about pressure.
But yes, I definitely think it’s had this huge resurgence. Also, there’s so much more that you can do now on your own. You can make your own videos. You can put out your own record. There’s a lot of technology in distribution at everyone’s fingertips that used to never exist.

You’re coming to Philly this month for a show at Underground Arts. Excited?
Yeah, I love coming to Philly so I’m very excited to return. I’ve performed at many, many venues throughout the Philadelphia area. Looking forward to seeing friends, going to Reading Terminal and exploring new places.

If you go:
Eugene Mirman
Thursday, April 6
8 p.m., $20-$22
Underground Arts
1200 Callowhill St.

UPDATE: This show is SOLD OUT.

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