The star of Cloverfield, Mash Up, and Yogi Bear 3D on porn, pretty actresses, and the sexual desirability imparted by a successful standup career.
by Peter Malamud Smith
Comedian T.J. Miller has appeared in all the movies, including Cloverfield, Our Idiot Brother, Extract, Get Him To The Greek, and (perhaps most notably) Yogi Bear 3D. His Comedy Central series, Mash Up, premiered last week. Here's a trailer; Tuesday's episode features Chris Hardwick and Deon Cole, and you can watch highlights of last week's Hannibal Buress episode at ComedyCentral.com.
What's the one thing that people should know about Mash Up?
It's standup mixed with sketch comedy, and it really highlights some of the best standup that's out there now. That's what I'm most excited about, to be able to host a show that has all of my peers and friends on it.
You were in She's Out Of My League. The Village Voice said you were out of the movie's league. What league do you put yourself in, as far as sexual desirability, in life?
Minor league. AAA. AAA, because this dick's always broke down. I don't know if you can print that, but I hope you can.
Can you explain further?
[earnestly] Well, AAA is a car service, and whenever you have a breakdown you can call them if you're a AAA member. And I am. So sexually, whenever my dick breaks down, I'll call them and they'll get somebody to try to give it a jump start.
That movie was promoted with posters of each character and a number representing what "league" they were in. Did you get one of those posters?
Yeah, it's in my parents' house. I was a six. Which I think is a little high, even, for that character. He went by the name "Stainer." I don't think you can be higher than a five if you're actively calling yourself "Stainer."
Have you become more desirable as your career has taken off?
Looking at the film and television that I've done, I think it's sort of gone down. It used to be that people would just come up and say, "Hey, you're a lot less handsome in real life," but as they've seen more of me, they'll come up and go, "Good God, man! In real life, you look like Ryan Reynolds pushed his face against a brick wall for an hour and a half. You look like Jason Segel got an adult case of fetal alcohol syndrome."
Have you met girls through your standup?
Oh, yeah, I mean, that's usually where I meet people. Not my girlfriend now, but yeah. Most women aren't attracted to me until they see me being fun. That's sort of my magic trick.
That's why one becomes funny in the first place, isn't it?
I think that's part of it. You know, a lot of people do it for the pussy, and a lot of people do it because they think given the tragic nature of our lives, being able to understand everything but not being able to get the answers that we need, comedy is an important escapist element of our society. But for me, it's the pussy.
You have this whole site of parody porn, verybadporn.com, and you once told an interviewer, "I feel pretty strongly that porn is something that needs to be satirized because it's such a big part of our culture, and I'm so baffled by my simultaneous disgust and fascination with it."
Pornography is such a strange part of our society. I thought it was so ripe for satire. I think a lot of guys getting into amateur porn are like, "Oh, it'd be so cool to be a porn star, " and it's not. So I liked the idea of a character who was sort of a very moral, gracious guy who respected women and just wanted to get into for the money.
What's your idea of very good porn?
Porn where you're in it with someone you love, and then you watch it later with popcorn. That's good porn.
You've collaborated with Lizzy Caplan on two projects. What's the secret to hanging out with Lizzy Caplan?
Always talk about how talented she is. I think that's the main topic of conversation. Talking about her talent. No, the secret to hanging out with Lizzy Caplan is trying to be a cool enough person to hang out with her. I love her. I think she's so great. You know, she doesn't like when I talk about myself or what I do. But I think that's partly just because when I talk about myself, I'm talking exclusively about Yogi Bear 3D. Have you seen that film?
I have not seen that film.
[angrily] Then I don't know why we're still talking! That's the best film I've ever done. It's hard to peak early as a comedian. To me, Mash Up is sort of my swan song after Yogi Bear.
NEXT: "I always say my character would've had sex with her even after she exploded…"
One man's opinion: Lizzy Caplan's character in Cloverfield is way more appealing than the main love interest, who doesn't have much of a personality.
I talk about this on my album, in a track called "Cloverfield Secrets." I always say my character would've had sex with her even after she exploded. That's how magnetic she is.
But Caplan's the one who gets killed off halfway through. Why does Hollywood think "bland and pretty" is more appealing than "funny, smart, and pretty?"
I mean, that's how I have a career. But that's true. I don't know — I think Hollywood in general picks what they think is safe. I think it's hard for people in general to accept a really funny female, because humor is a sign of intelligence, and sometimes we repress that in women. It's hard for Hollywood to accept that there are women that are every bit as funny as men.
Between Caplan, Krysten Ritter in She's Out of My League, and Gillian Jacobs in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, you've worked with some of the biggest internet lust objects of our time. Of those three, who exerts the most devastating field of sexual magnetism?
You know, I'm not really able to make that distinction, because I'm so overwhelmingly sexually magnetic that if I walk into a room it sort of eliminates the competition.
Give some advice to a reader. "I have trouble speaking to women in bars. A simple 'hello' always feels abrupt, and yet most 'lines' are cheesy. Any advice for how to get things started?"
Always have a few specific questions that will start conversation. Such as "That's a lovely bag. What are your favorite textiles?" Or, "Holy shit, your hair is on fire!" Or, "Damn, girl, are you a track runner? Because it's been running through my mind how you would ever make a living doing that if you fail to become an Olympian."
"I just started dating a girl. She's a virgin, and I've more or less slept with an entire small town. How much should I tell her?"
Tell her what you told me, but learn from my experience… never reveal the name of the town!
On Extract, you sat next to Gene Simmons in the makeup room every morning. What's the most memorable thing he said?
I have so many stories about him. His hair is very complicated, and I used to sit next to him getting my tattoos done for my character. At one point, I was trying to make conversation, and I was like, "You know, my girlfriend and I watch your show, Family Jewels. It's really fun." And he's like, "It's Gene Simmons' Family Jewels." I'm like, "What?" And he's like, "It's called Gene Simmons' Family Jewels." And I'm like, "All right, man, whatever" — I thought he was joking. And he's like, "Try it." And I'm like, "What?" And he's like, "Try it. Say Gene Simmons' Family Jewels." And I'm like, "We really like your show, Gene Simmons' Family Jewels." And he's like [smugly], "Doesn't that sound better?" I swear to God. So I go, "Can I call it Gene Simmons' Gene Simmons Gene Simmons? Because that sounds really good to me. I like the sound of that!" He's crazy. I've seen him at premieres since then. I'm like, "Hey, we were in that movie together!" and he goes, "Which one?" "Oh, the only one you were in, really."
Well, I don't know — have you ever seen his sex tape?
Does he have a sex tape?
Yeah, look it up. Speaking of very bad porn.
Oh, Peter, I don't even want to see it, and yet, I have to. Oh my God, at spankwire.com. All right, I'm looking it up right now. [To his publicist] Rachel, can we just watch this porn together? Woo woo. Woo woo woo! Woo woo woo woo woo woo woo. That's the sound I make when I watch pornography. Oh man. The Gene Simmons pornography is almost as disgusting as his exploitation of his own band. Print that.