Swooping low out of my self-imposed exile, I caught up with Cheese, the LA-based author of Badly Drawn Robots and stand-up comic. I loved this comic when I found it on the Old Internet. I love it now as it appears in its collected anthology. This interview was conducted via intertubinal electro-stimulation on a space-chat interface.
Dave: A meaningful conversation between two human beings connecting thousands of miles apart. Reduced to a few inches in the corner of the screen.
Cheese: Should I maximize the window?
Dave: Oh that’s better. That reduces the technological ennui by 8%.
Cheese: That’s the best kind of ennui. Worst is proctological ennui.
Dave: I want to start this interview slowly. Ease into it. Just the tip. With a little lube. Ease it in. That’s it. Nice and slow. So. How–…how’s the weather?
Cheese: Easy there Cosby, I’m not passed out yet. Ennui notwithstanding.
Dave: So quickly has the interview descended to Frost and Nixon.
Cheese: I would describe the weather in LA as inhospitable to mammals.
Dave: Excellent. This interview is proceeding well. I feel we are back on track. How has the weather affected your stand up? By that I mean, what percentage of California comedians have begun to start their sets with “Boy, that weather, huh?” And how have you responded to that?
Cheese: As far as I know, all of them, but I don’t really keep up with local comedy. Or local anything at all really. Last time I did standup was a month ago but it was a show booked by a friend who does some quality control. At most CA shows that I’ve seen, you can bet there will be guy-who-tries-to-be-angry-ranting-guy, woman-who-is-not-maria-bamford, and guy-who-is-jewish-and-thats-just-funny.
Dave: But when you perform, you gotta just do your thing right? How do you avoid that sorta meta-comedy or out-of-body look at the act of doing stand-up? You’re surrounded by stereotypes.
Cheese: I find the ones I like and hang out with them, talking shit about the state of comedy, as if it has changed much in 30 years. Oh there are some really funny, talented people to see here, but in my view it’s about 80:20 shit:good. That’s true of everything though. Hell the BDR comics are about that same ratio. I’m hoping the entire catalogue can coast on the momentum of that “beep, boop’ joke.
Dave: If someone told me I had to do a stand-up act next Friday, I would transcribe a Carrot Top set and do it word-for-word, note-for-note. I don’t know what point I’d be making, but I do know I’d be booed roundly. I joke around all the time, but if it came to “okay, it is now time for me to be on stage and to be funny,” I don’t know how I’d do that without feeling like a ridiculous fraud. How did you get into it?
Cheese: I actually just don’t get into it. I used to try to sell a joke — commit to it — on stage but I found it’s a lot less effort and a lot more refreshing for the audience to be the deadpan guy. casino games It’s very true that funny in conversation and funny on stage are in two different universes; one means nothing to the other. I’m always glad when someone says I’m funny and should be pursuing it more, but I think half of my stage confidence comes from not actually trying to be a professional comic. I just don’t want to do any of the other shit that everyone else in comedy is working towards: a TV or commercial gig, a sketch show, being an actor or writing a book. Those are the hallmarks of comedy success everyone is chasing but I just want to do standup and I’m fine if it never turns into anything more than that.
Dave: If only Kevin James followed that advice.
Cheese: Paul Blart Mall Cop is a masterpiece if it’s as ironic as I hope it is.
Dave: I thought it was a docu-drama of a man who looked like Kevin James. (I was going to add: “but wasn’t as funny,” but Kevin James is not funny.)
Cheese: He had one joke I liked. But that might have been Ray Romano or Dee Snider. I’m bad with names and faces.
Dave: I mean, I just don’t want to let it slide. I’d like to make this as explicit as possible: He is not a funny comedian. It would be a shame if I didn’t eradicate any lingering doubt.
Cheese: While we’re at it, can I say I think Adam Sandler’s 15 minutes are up?
Dave: Dude, I was just talking about this with a friend of mine. We named three movies that we both liked and then started reading off his films since then. This took 46 minutes, because, apparently, he has done an ass-load of movies in the period since he did anything remotely funny. The list is staggering. (For your response, I will simply insert, “Cheese nods sagely.”)
Cheese nods sagely.
Cheese is currently staggered by Sandler’s IMDB.
Dave: Is that nuts or what?
Cheese: Both nuts and what.
Dave: Pixels 2!
Dave: Badly Drawn Robots is world famous, would you agree? I have a logical proof, if you’d prefer to rely on that.
Well it does get mentioned to me out of nowhere every now and then. I had always been under the impression that only me and like 8 other people knew about it. Of which, 5 cared.
Dave: I’ll give you the proof. Only just thought of this, so I need to fact check something on google maps.
Cheese is still staggered by Sandler’s IMDB.
Dave: And you thought your 15 minutes comment was a throwaway line.
Cheese: They range from stupendously shitty to shitpendously stupid… and back again.
Dave: It’s what failure looks like in a list format. The most highly paid form of failure outside of investment banking. The proof: Anything that has a following stretching across three-quarters of the globe is world famous. Badly Drawn Robots has a following stretching from LA to New York. East of NY lies the Atlantic, and the next spot of dirt we would hit is probably Dingle, Ireland. West of LA, apart from some islands, is Chiba, Japan. Chiba, Japan to Dingle, Ireland (via LA and NY) is 19,000 miles. The circumference of the earth is 25,000. Nineteen over twenty-five is about 0.75. The following of BDR stretches across three-quarters of the globe. Therefore, by modus ponens, BDR is world famous.
Cheese: That sounds right to me, because I want it to.
Dave: It’s science.
Dave: Next question: 33?
Dave: It is difficult to come up with new and innovative interview questions. What did you think of “33?”
Cheese: It’s divisible by 11, which is commendable. It’s over 28, which is something it will need to work on. I give it an overall score of 5.
Dave: Disappointing. That hits me right in my interview place. Three inches north of my gut. I’m no Dick Cavett. He would’ve known better. Let’s change it up again. True or false! “The current king of France is bald.”
Cheese: False, France hasn’t had a ruling monarch since Jerry Lewis.
Dave: A Russellean position, to be sure. Real talk, now. Okay? Real talk. Let’s get 100% serious. I have a very serious question. New Yorker cartoons. WTF?
Cheese: The best, most clever cartoon I ever read was in the new yorker and it wasnt even written by one of their regular cartoonists. As I recall, it was the winner of a caption contest for a drawing of a judge sternly addressing a chair with a set of empty clothes in it. The caption was “Are you now of have you ever been?” Shit was a stroke of genius.
Dave: Do not encourage the New Yorker to make more cartoons. You are doing a disservice to humankind.
Cheese: We both know I can’t affect that. You may as well ask me not to encourage earthquakes.
Dave: Don’t encourage those either. Just to be safe. Otherwise, I take no position on whether you can or cannot affect the tectonic activity of the earth. Or bible.
Cheese: I have negligible impact on the tectonic activity of the bible.
Dave: Negligible…but not none, right? We cannot be sure. I’m speaking for humanity when I use “we” here. Hecklers: do you have a prepared response? Or do you play it by ear because you’re so goddamned play-it-by-ear hilarious?
Cheese: You know I pretty much never get heckled. Even on nights where people are getting heckled, AND I do poorly, I still don’t get heckled. That’s not to say I don’t go to shows with my box cutter on me at all times. Any night could be the night.
Dave: “Comedian cuts heckler with wit and box cutter. News at 11.”
Cheese: I call it my anti-sass device.
Dave: Is BDR something that once had a place in your life and is now over? Or is it something you see yourself going back to?
Cheese: If the book suddenly finds a following and takes off, I’ll be much more inclined to take time from my otherwise white-hot standup career to pump out enough new material for a follow up. It was always a niche thing though, and I always found it hard to write for because I don’t typically write comedy in sketch-form. Hence, the number of them that are basically one-liners, cut up into panels. It still has a place in my heart and I know at least 3 people who really want more BDR stuff. If I can get that up to 4, I’ll have all the imaginary capital I need to start making them again.
Dave: Am I number 4? or in the first 3?
Cheese: You were 2. My cat is on the fence about it but I count her towards the total.
Dave: Goddammit. Get a second cat!!!
Cheese: I can barely afford the cat I have! My personal chef and massage therapists don’t pay for themselves, you know.
Dave: What about art stuff in general? I have a vague memory of the old BDR site linking to drawings of yours. Or was I drunk?
Cheese: Both. I still draw a little but my actual day job has made 3D digital art a more necessary siphon of my time and energy. I was only ever a mediocre pencil artist, but I enjoyed having drawings that I made. I would hang them on the fridge.
Dave: I’ve made a terrible mockery of the interview process, so is there anything you’d like to bring up? Economic policy? Favorite movies? Fungus?
Cheese: You know what’s bullshit? Palm trees. Fuck those things. Stupid looking stick towers with some dumbass “fronds” at the top. The fuck is a frond? Legit trees have branches and leaves not this communist “frond” nonsense. Palm trees are crap and LA is littered with these worthless fucking things. We live in what would otherwise be a desert and we chose to populate the entire place with some bullshit non-tree that eats up a shitton of water and provides no shade.
Dave: Anything you want to direct people to for stand-up updates? Facebook or twitter? Tinder maybe?
Cheese: Check me out on geocities. Also, my facebook comedy page is facebook.com/soundgardenrules. It’s where you’ll find out how I feel about street sweeping and kids these days.
Dave: Do you Tinder? With the swiping and superficiality and so on?
Cheese: Of course. I’ve had a number of dates. That number is 0.
Dave: I’ve done more work on the previous question. I’ll try again. 22?
Cheese: Both divisible by 11 and under 28, which is a rare accomplishment. Still, it’s no 11.
If you care about humor and the future of our sweet, innocent children and also hate palm trees, buy Super Deluxe Collected Anthology of Badly Drawn Robots, The, and go see Cheese.
Dave: Oh, still up for a game of Bella Sara?
Cheese: Do I need more than 5 cards to play?
Dave: Since neither of us know the rules, 5 cards is probably enough. I play SparkleHoof.
Cheese: Rainbowmare uses star twinkle.
Dave: I counter by burning all my cards in my firepit.
Cheese: We havent even rolled for initiative!
Dave: I melted the dice.