John Hodgman talks about bringing his 'white privilege mortality comedy' to Chicago | Bleader

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

John Hodgman talks about bringing his 'white privilege mortality comedy' to Chicago

Posted By on 09.23.15 at 08:00 AM

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click to enlarge John Hodgman
  • John Hodgman


John Hodgman is 44 years old, or in his own words an "elderly man." Best known as a Daily Show correspondent and for his three books of invented history, the father of two recently spoke over the phone about how middle age and self-awareness are affecting his comedic approach as his new stand-up tour, "Vacationland," comes to Thalia Hall on Thursday.

How would you describe your new material in "Vacationland"?

I’ve moved away from fake facts and into loathsome truths about my real life. Not in the guise of the resident expert or deranged millionaire, but just as myself, this 44-year-old weird dad with an appropriate weird dad moustache. I think you’ve noticed the boon of middle-aged white dudes talking about their kids and how parenting encodes their own irrelevance and death. It’s a huge hit on the comedy circuit these days, and I wanted to jump on this sad bandwagon, I guess.

You’ve described "Vacationland" as "white privilege mortality comedy." What does that mean?

Recently I left New York to travel into the countryside of rural Massachusetts and later coastal Maine. As I was talking about this world of New England, which unlike Chicago or New York is not the most diverse, my friend [musician] John Roderick followed me onstage and said, "I hope you all enjoyed the white privilege mortality comedy of John Hodgman." Like all truths, it stung; it was embarrassing, but all honest comedy is embarrassing, and I felt I had to own it. The truth of white privilege is you don’t know you have it, and it usually takes someone pointing it out to you. I am untroubled and unthreatened in ways that people who are not white middle-aged dudes who grew up in Brookline and went to Yale routinely are.

What do you think about Chicago?

I have been there enough times that I now thoroughly that believe it exists. For a long time I thought it was a fictional city like Brigadoon, and that when I showed up you were all making papier-mache buildings to trick me.

What made you think it was fictional?

I would receive testimony from so-called Chicagoans who would come to New York and would sing praises of this utopia of low rents, great cheap food, wonderful ungentrified dive bars, and a distinct urban culture that hadn’t been turned over to the sons and daughters of foreign princes and hedge fund managers.

Last year on Conan you said you’d tried marijuana by using a vaporizer. What did you think?

As a former cigarette smoker, smoking cigarettes looks and feels cool. But whatever you might be vaping, if you look in the mirror while doing it, you will feel shame; it looks like you’re smoking an iPhone. Part of what is great about being in my 40s is not having to worry about looking cool anymore. I would advise young people to cease worrying about it immediately. Don’t waste your life like I did, trying to be interesting and cool. You’ll probably just end up failing, and end up being interesting and cool in ways you never anticipated.

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