Comedian Brian Posehn on LEGOs, lockdown, Joe Manganiello, and his upcoming shows in KC

"I was about to record a special before COVID, and I threw a whole hour away. No one will ever see it because it just didn't mean anything."
Brian Posehn Credit Seth Olenick

Hot Rod Brian Posehn // Photo by Seth Olenick

Brian Posehn thinks COVID lockdown was a time reserved for comfort movies and deliverable weed, but that’s also where he wrote entirety of his new special Posehna Non Grata. Now he’s back out on the road with killer material, and is swinging through KC for his upcoming shows at the Comedy Club of Kansas City, March 16-18.

It would be easier to list things that Brian Posehn hasn’t done. As an original member of The Comedians of Comedy alongside Patton Oswalt, Maria Bamford, and Zach Galifianakis, he had a major part in launching the alternative comedy movement. 

As he talks about in our interview, it wasn’t his goal to help popularize nerd culture, he just wanted to talk about his favorite things. Now after co-writing over 40 issues of the Marvel comic Deadpool, writing multiple comics through Image Comics, hosting a D&D podcast called Nerd Poker, published his book Forever Nerdy, and releasing his comedy metal album Grandpa Metal it’s safe to say he’s turned these obsessions into his successes.

He’s been featured in multiple movies including The Five-Year Engagement and Devil’s Rejects, and starred in the 2015 comedy Uncle Nick. He’s also had roles in many popular tv shows like The Sarah Silverman Program, New Girl, Big Bang Theory, and the Mandalorian. Oh, and then there’s his adorable character Brian on Comedy Central’s The Sarah Silverman Program

We caught up with Posehn as he talks about getting back on the road, surviving lockdown, and hints at some upcoming projects.

The Pitch: Best metal album of 2022?

Brian Posehn: I’ll get the title wrong but the last Amon Amarth has really kind of grown on me. Their newest record, it’s kind of their most commercial, which normally wouldn’t be something I would love. I used to be the kind of metal head that got mad when a band made a commercial record, but, with them, it’s just really cool to see death metal. I saw them at the Forum this year. So it’s nice to see people selling records in that style of music.

Any bands/albums that got you through the pandemic?

I watched a couple of people doing pandemic shows in a studio. I love that. One of my favorite things was the drummer for Anthrax, Charlie Benante, was just recording himself, he would play guitar and drums, and send it to somebody else. These covers that he wound up doing with other musicians were some of the coolest things I saw. He did a rush cover that just blew my mind. 

How did you spend the pandemic?

Well, I talk about it in my act. I freaked out at first, you know, this is a thing I’ve done my whole life. You kind of find out how it wasn’t very essential for comedians to run around the country because it shut down right away. So, I had two years off. I watched a lot of TV. I’ve always been a movie guy, and I do watch the same movies hundreds of times. The first couple of months, I also did all the LEGOs that we have in the garage that hadn’t been opened. Big LEGO sets that I had gotten for my son that we hadn’t gotten around to. We blew through all those. My wife was playing tennis every day and I was just hermitting using a lot of food delivery apps.

I don’t know, but it kind of sounds like you were living the dream.

You know what? I never wanted to tell anybody how I actually had a pretty good COVID, you know? My pandemic was great. How was yours? I felt guilty about it because we had a couple of scares, you know, kids and family members that we knew got sick and that’s not good, but everybody was okay. For us, you know, I already like my family, and we spend a lot of time together. I think it was good. My dog loves me more than ever, because I never left the house.

What were your comfort movies?

​​Oh, anything old 80s horror. You know, Monster Squad. The Big Lebowski probably got screened more than any other movie. I could watch that pretty much any time, like I could watch it right now. I believe Die Hard is a Christmas movie, but I also screen it all year long. Not a lot of TV outside of The Simpsons, but a ton of movies.

What kind of material did you write during lockdown? Was it any different than what you had been writing?

I don’t know if it was different, but my special was all written here in my nerd cave locked down. It’s not all about COVID, but it was all written during it and after it. I was about to record a special before COVID, and I threw a whole hour away. No one will ever see it because it just didn’t mean anything. Sure, you know, I don’t love that I did a whole 20 minutes about the pandemic and my response to it. But it’s natural. I like my bits to come from a real place, and it was me responding to it. It would have been weird to do a special where you don’t mention the elephant in the room, you know? I mean I also had gained 100 pounds through it, so I felt like I had to kind of mention that. 

What was your last live show before the shutdown? Anything weird that you remember from that show?

I don’t know. All I remember is hearing about it, and not knowing what it was gonna mean really, you know. I have a feature act, who’s coming with me to Kansas to the shows this weekend, Johnny Taylor. He and I had a couple of things booked, and the last one that I remember I didn’t go to because I actually got sick. Not COVID I just had flu symptoms, and I didn’t want to get on a plane when all this other stuff was going on, you know? That was March of 2020. That’s when everybody I knew was kind of freaking out, and my manager was like, we don’t know what’s going on, you know these clubs are closing. So, as soon as I canceled that gig, then my whole schedule went away within the next week.

Did you have any physical or mental preparation before going on tour again?

Probably should train but no, I just I’ve done it for so long that I just get out there. Back in the day, I just had to get over everything I hated about flying. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but I do a lot of it. More than most people, and I didn’t want to lean on anything because I like to be in control. I tried Ambien like 10 years ago, but I never wanted to be on something, outside of weed, you know. I just kind of trained my brain and now I’m usually asleep before the plane takes off. It’s like time traveling.

What are you most excited about hitting the road again? What are you most looking forward to seeing?

I like going to towns and finding record stores and some comic shops. That was one of the things I did do during COVID. Within the next year or two I’ve got three books coming out through Image Comics. Two of them are gonna be ongoing. So there’ll be like the first five issues telling one story, but then from there, they’ll take off and continue for as long as people buy them. So, I’m going to be doing some signings But that’s a fun thing for me. I mean, I genuinely love being in comic shops and hanging out for a couple hours with people who want me to sign a Devil’s Rejects picture, you know? I always love writing comics on the side. I made it sound like I did nothing, but I actually did quite a bit getting these books going, and I have a TV show in development and some other stuff. I can’t just actually sit around, I did have to do things creatively, or I would’ve gone insane. 

When you first started out it was so rare to see someone exclusively talking about nerd culture and metal culture. After decades of being a comedian what is left for you to explore and what would you like to get into?

I don’t know. You hear your crusty old nerds, gatekeepers, you know, complaining about things, but at some point you just have to let go of a lot of this stuff and not be too attached to it. I mean, I feel like I grew as a person through my connection with Star Wars, you know, and eventually just letting it go. It cracks me up as a crusty old dude now to watch other people when they get upset about things and especially some of the petty things that nerds get mad about. Which is kind of surprising because I always felt like, as nerds, we should be welcoming to everybody. As far as the future, I’m always going to talk about the things I love. That was something I found in my act, it wasn’t something that I consciously said, ‘Hey, I’m going to be the nerd comic.’ I just started talking about it at different shows. I just found myself mentioning that I was mad about Star Wars and then it connected, you know. I’d say other references. I’d say John Romita, and there’d be a pop. That encouraged me to keep doing that, to let people in on, you know, what I cared about. 

Is there a bit or section in your current special that took way too long to crack?

The whole set came together pretty quickly. The Rock bit has grown and grown more than I ever, ever imagined. It’s the longest bit I’ve ever done probably. I’ve never done one idea for that long but it’s a bit that sort of grew organically. It really cracks me up and I love telling it. I gotta retire it soon because I recorded it but I’ve added things to it since I recorded it.

How was your first live show post-pandemic?

When that happened with the Rock I did stand up that night. It was the first show back, and I performed it in front of an audience of people. They were wearing plastic like it was a Gallagher show. It was really strange and it was all outdoors. It was sponsored by a weed company, of course. The best thing since, I don’t talk about it on the set, but I used to do that Twitter bit every night by going into my phone and opening up Twitter and finding this exchange between me and The Rock. Then I had a feature act, my friend Irene Tu, she said, hey, you’re going on to Twitter every night for your show? I go yeah, she goes, you know you could just screen grab that right? Yeah totally right I could just screenshot it! Then I was like, how do you do that? 

Who are some up and coming comedians that most people don’t know that you are really into?

Oh, yeah. My friend Blair Socci is hilarious. She’s starting to blow up. My guy that I’m bringing with me, Johnny Taylor, he’s one of the funniest dudes out there. He’s not young. He’s not quite my age, but he’s been doing it a long time and deserves recognition because he’s super, super funny. Smart writer and that fits really well with my act. It’s really important to me that the show is consistent and solid. I don’t want to follow somebody weak just so it makes it easy for me. I love following somebody who crushed, and then they’re also my friends, so we go to a record store after the show. I get out of the hotel room and don’t be depressed for three days. 

You know you’re coming to Kansas City during Super Bowl celebration week.

You know, I was watching the game going, God, I hope they win because they might be a bummer if I go in, you know, five days after you took a big loss.  

Any on-screen stuff coming up? Next projects that we don’t know about?

Joe Manganiello, handsome, handsome, handsome man—probably the prettiest man to ever play Dungeons and Dragons—I did his D&D documentary that he’s actually doing through D&D. I was one of the first comics he asked. Everything else is down the road. I’ve got something that I can’t really talk about that I’ve been developing and that takes up most of my time.

Categories: Culture