Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Interview with Comedian T.J. Miller

So in an effort to add some "What Not" to "Music and What Not with Mousertime", I went out and got an interview with one of the best comedians in the entire Galaxy. His name is TJ Miller, and I'm pretty sure he may be a genius. On top of being a hilarious stand up comic, T.J. has been in a number of films including Cloverfield, She's Out Of My League and Get Him to The Greek. I also highly recommend spending some time on YouTube watching clips of him as "Marmaduke" in the Television show Carpoolers. Big thanks to TJ Miller and his beautiful curly locks...

From what I have heard you have a well rounded comedic background (stand up, improv, sketch, films, TV). Do you have any advice for struggling comedians?
Struggle. Work harder than anyone around you, and diversify. Take acting classes, focus on writing, try different writing exercises and styles, and success will follow. The only thing you have control over is your work ethic--you can't affect your looks, your innate sense of humor, your charisma--but you can affect your work ethic, and the hardest workers usually succeed. That's what I've found.
Who were some of your comedic influences growing up? Now?
Steve Martin was the biggest. By far. But I also loved the Marx Brothers and W.C. Fields. I was very fortunate in that my father was a film comedy connoisseur, and really just a comedy connoisseur in general. So I watched a lot of Peter Sellers, and a variety of other comedy stars from times when I wasn't alive. I find a lot of guys my age now consider Adam Sandler and those people to be their influences. But I was always a student of comedy and especially early film comedy, including silent comedy. Harry Langdon was my favorite of that school, and later on I loved Woody Allen and Gene Wilder. So I really run the gambit or gamete, or whatever it is. I think it's gamut.
What would you say is the craziest thing that has happened while on stage performing?
I mean, one time this guy shot me with a paintball gun but instead of paint balls it was smaller paint ball guns. So I guess it was a paint ball gun gun.
What can you tell us about your upcoming role as "Ranger Jones" in Yogi Bear? Is it just for kids? Are there some adult references thrown in?
It is for Kids and Adults, and there is supposed to be a comedy film in there that also happens to be a family movie. I play the younger ambitious ranger, with a fanny pack full of merit badges and ambition, and I struggle throughout the film over my ambition and ethics. It's a really challenging role, and I found that I had to really delve into what this young man was looking for, who he could trust, and what lengths he was willing to go to become head ranger. I'm hoping for a nomination to be nominated for an MTV popcorn award.
So what gave you the idea to do an audition tape with a real bear? (Hilarious by the way).
Thank you, I did it as a joke. The entire thing is really a joke, from that decision to audition to actually executing the film. I had auditioned because I thought it would be funny and I liked the script and the casting director, but I wasn't pining to do Yogi Bear, although it ended up being a good decision. But in between the first audition and the callback, I decided to film an audition with a real bear. That was a great moment in my life as a comedian when I told my agents "FIND ME A BEAR" and they did it. It cost 1,000 dollars, but it was a good investment and don't think I won't spend a grand on a good joke. So we filmed it, it was wonderful and we sent it to Warner Brothers as if it was a real piece of audition material, as in "T.J. has some additional audition materials he's like to submit and he hope you'll see them in making your casting consideration. He really feels like this will help you see how he would approach the role." It was amazing. The offer came in soon after, but I was first choice before I sent it, so it's amazing that the internet believed that I was desperate for a role and did this as a last ditch effort because the auditions didn't go well. I would have gotten it either way, I did this because I think it's fun to play tricks on major motion picture studios. Then when I received the offer there was a battle over the deal because it included so many sequels, but we got to where we wanted to be (my agents and managers are lovely) and I decided the funniest possible ending to the story and the overall joke itself was to ACTUALLY BE IN THE MOVIE. So I did. It almost killed me, I had brain surgery right after, but I did it and I think it's hilarious that I am in Yogi Bear, hilarious that they got the audition tape with the real bear, and hilarious that I had to wear a fanny pack the whole movie.
How did it feel to be "pre-nominated" for an MTV movie award for your role as "Stainer" in "She's Out of My League"?
I can't even tell you what an honor is is to be nominated to for a nomination and then have the MTV viewers not nominate me after being nominated...So rarely as a comedian do we feel that we are nominated to be nominated for the work we've done, because often we aren't, because it's real weird to have nominations to be nominated. Dominated.
Do you consider yourself a "hard ten"... I think you are..
I don't. I think I'm in the 5 to 6 category because I eat standing up so much. Often and great volumes of food.
How did you prepare for your hilarious role as "Brian" in "Get Him to The Greek?"
I helped people find local restaurants and bathrooms and then dealt some crack cocaine and then checked into the hospital. I did it all in 5 minutes to prepare for the role.
Have you ever played a role where the character has a normal name?
This Christmas I play "Dan" in Gulliver's Travels. I was up for the role of "Travels" but I wasn't a conceptual verb but a person. So I went with Dan. But that's it so far. I've got some real weird names. Marmaduke, Rory, Tuffnut, Brian the Concierge, Gileece in Unstoppable in November, etc. Bizarre.
You have done so much in the few years, what is the next big goal for T.J. Miller?
I want to build my stand up and have more people know me as a live comedian and come to see my shows. I'm doing an hour for comedy central, so I think that will help immensely. I tour nationally whenever I can, so I hope that more people will come see me and see how much material I have and how much of the show is riffing and improvisation, making every show different. I also want to get fired off of a cooking show and do this movie with Jason Schwartzman that I love called Stone King. Hopefully it will work.
What is a question you wish interviewers would ask you?
You just asked it! I always want that one but no one ever does it so I never get to give this answer!
Any upcoming projects that you are working on? Playing any clubs soon?
I am playing clubs in D.C., Edmonton Canada, New York City, and many other places all over. Check my website for dates: and my twitter which is @nottjmiller. I have three movies coming out, Unstoppable in November with Denzel Warshin'ton, Gulliver's Travels in December, and Yogi Bear in December as well. Fun. So please keep telling your friends that I'm "doing well" and "a nice guy for what it's worth." Thank you!

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