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Eugene Mirman reads from and signs his new advice book, The Will To Whatevs: A Guide to Modern Life , UW Bookstore, 4326 University Way

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SW Interview: Eugene Mirman

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Eugene Mirman reads from and signs his new advice book, The Will To Whatevs: A Guide to Modern Life, UW Bookstore, 4326 University Way NE, 634-3400, 7 p.m., Thurs., Feb. 19. FREE!

A commenter on the Onion's AV Club website said "(Eugene) looks like the kind of guy who knows the ins and outs of relationships better than Dr. Phil or any of those other fuckers." What do you think it is about your appearance that gives you a leg up over "those other fuckers"? A full head of hair? Lack of moustache?

Mustaches have always been a sign of trickery. They look like snakes - and snakes are tricksters. Plus people now associate baldness with deceit because of Howie Mandell's new prank show Howie Do It. Sadly, Dr. Phil is the one to suffer for it.

Do

you find your ability to give out semi-authoritative advice a blessing?

Or does it just mean that girls think of you as "a friend" and come to

you for relationship advice instead of sex?


I

don't see it as a drawback. There is nothing bad about giving

confident, somewhat accurate advice. Eventually you gain ladies' trust

by listening to their problems about junior high school and weird

college boyfriends. Then, when they are 28, and not married yet, you're

the first person they think of hooking up with when they're depressed.


Obviously, your book is very funny. But there are also some wonderful insights normally found in great works of literature. For example, you say "In America, 'qualification' is simply an attitude" and later "Entertainment is business: The business of fucking art in the face." Do you have any literary icons you look up to? Besides Jewel, that is...

If you take Jewel out of the picture, then no. There's no one else. I guess Mark Twain if I have to pick someone.

Do people still read?

Yes, people still read. Not me, but others do. The good thing is the ones that don't (or can't) read will never know that I just called them a shithead. Of those, a very, very small number will accidentally read the "th" in shithead and pronounce it "shi-thead" and get confused). That includes everyone under four years old.

Can you tell me a little bit about the evolution of this book? I know it grew out of your website's advice column and also your experience as a counselor for a teen crisis hotline. But what made you think it would make a great book? Besides the fact that its another way for you to rake in small amounts of money from a huge corporation.

Mostly, I thought I would enjoy writing it. I loved doing the advice column on my site and enjoyed the online blog I did for the Village Voice years ago. It seemed like a fun project, and one where I'd get pleasure from both the process and the product. I could have poured my energy into trying to make a TV show or something - but that can be extremely frustrating: they're often never shot, or they're produced in a way that's depressing, or the feedback is mostly based on demographics. With a book, no one ever says: "Don't mention Congress or Bernhard Goetz...it won't appeal to 18 - 24 year old males."

Speaking of huge corporations, how did working with a publisher like Harper Collins differ from working with an "indie" label like Sub Pop? 

With standup, you hone an act over time and your feedback is your audience. By the time you record an album, you know that most of what you're doing will work. With a book, you're mostly sitting alone and then submitting drafts to an editor or showing what you've written to a small number of friends. They're different, but both great. However, I think working with Sub Pop and Harper isn't really that different necessarily, though I've known the people at Sub Pop much longer, and stay at their houses when I'm in Seattle. That's probably the main difference...I wrote some of my book in the little cabin in back of Megan Jasper's house, but I didn't work on my record in back of Rupert Murdoch's. Still, I've only just begun editing my next Sub Pop album, so Rupert could still invite me to his villa.

What's in store for people attending your reading/signing event for The Will to Whatevs? Is it too obvious to expect a healthy Q&A session to unfold?

I will do a Power Point presentation and read a little from my book. Then, I will kill a wolf. After that, I will teach everyone how to make vermouth from scratch and then, yes, at the end there will be a Q&A.

You mention how listing your favorite bands on a social networking site will maximize what others think of you. I don't belong to one of these sites (yet), but if I did, are there things I should I do/not do when listing my favorite bands?

I'd say not to list so many bands that you list all music. Obviously we all like songs by over 100 artists, but to list all of them makes you a non-committal asshole. Something most people don't know is that Facebook puts bands in alphabetical order for you, while MySpace automatically organizes bands in a way that appeals to sexual-predators. Ultimately, just list what you like. When you're done, if you haven't already, add Yo La Tengo. People will think you're cool. And they'll be right. If you want girls to like you make sure to put that you like Cat Stevens, whoever he was (I'm kidding - he was the first black president!!!!!)



 
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