Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Interview: John Hodgman

I sat down with the funny man for the Boston Phoenix.

Long before John Hodgman became universally recognized as the systems-challenged PC in Apple’s ads, he was writing fake trivia for such publications as McSweeney’s and the New York TImes Magazine. Discussing his new book, More Information Than You Require (Dutton), he explains how a former clarinetist-turned-literary agent could become the face of a reviled computer and, possibly, one of the smarter humorists on the planet.

There’s one phase in your first book, The Areas of My Expertise, that I just love: “the made-up truth.”

I wrote that book and I wrote that phrase, but then Stephen Colbert put it so much better, with the word “truthiness.” When he wrote that, my heart both leapt and sank, which caused me to go to the hospital. It’s such a perfect assessment of the new kind of truth that we are all wrestling with – and that I am profiting by.

Do we live in particularly funny times?
I think these times are possibly hilarious, but it’s a laugh to keep from crying hilarity. But I don’t know if that’s particularly unusual to these times. There have been difficult times throughout history, and that is why there has been humor. There was a lot of great Black Plague humor, for example. I don’t know if that’s true. If they existed, I’d love to read the transcripts of some Black Plague standup comedy.

I think that right now we live in extremely and refreshingly surprising times. I think what made the previous eight years sort of difficult was that they were no longer funny after a while. Unless you were a supporter of the Bush administration, and there are reasonable people who are, you got used to being told that it is raining when many, many people are urinating on you - and no one really questioning that.

Read more here.

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