Kurt Braunohler [Interview]

Photo by Adrian Aguilar

 

Hello Folks! Do we have a very exciting interview for you all today, is a question you are probably asking. And the answer is: yes. Of course. Why the hell would you ask such a stupid question? Our interviews are always amazing aren’t they? Well, okay, regular readers will know that I may call out this over-emphasis but, trust me Folks, today’s interview subject is an incredible human being and I am sure most of you are already here knowing him by name. It’s motherfuckin’ Kurt Braunohler, Everyone!

Kurt is an absolutely hilarious stand up comedian, improv mastermind, and delightful actor. This cat is just an absolute delight to look at whilst doing his craft, and has an incredible brain that moves a mile a minute and only puts out the best to the world. I know that this sounds something like Trump talking about himself, but I swear to you all that it’s true. I have admired Kurt’s work for so long, and it is quite the honor to have him grace our digital pages here at Trainwreck’d Society. I don’t entirely get into it in the interview process, but I have a quick story to tell about Kurt, that I did not dispel to him prior to writing this introduction. Here it goes:

I was on a plane from London headed back to Portland watching The Big Sick when Kurt appeared just about the seat back tray ahead of me, and I literally exclaimed “Holy shit! It’s Braunohler!” It was in this very moment that I realized that I was a true comedy nerd.

Alright, I know that for a lot of you, this is not a real crazy story. But trust me, for those of us who have to face the real world, day to day, and socialize with normies each and every day, this was quite the revelation. Also, the elderly lady sitting next to me wasn’t entirely pleased by my exclamation.

So Folks, I really can’t fully explain how excited I am to have Kurt on the site today. So, I will just shut my stupid mouth, and let Kurt speak for himself. He has some amazing A’s to our Q’s that I am so excited to share with you all right now. Enjoy!

 

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When did you first discover that you were a hilarious human being and that you wanted to make people laugh for a living?

I was 5 years old. I shit my pants and thought, “That’s a killer closer.”

What was your very first paid gig in the world of comedy? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that you still incorporate into your work to this day?

My first paid gig in comedy was: I was paid $250 to dress up in this monkey costume with a huge dick and try and sneak into the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a huge TV producer’s gala. At the time, my rent was $500 a month and I was living in Brooklyn, so $250 meant the world to me. This was in 2000 I think? During the first big tech boom in NYC. There was dumb money flying everywhere. This start-up’s mascot was a small monkey with a blue dick. So the owner of the company had an $8,000 monkey costume custom built for me specifically. Then they packed it into suitcase, rented me a tuxedo, and bought me a $700 ticket to this producers’ gala at the Met. The idea was that I’d run around and get my picture taken with people, and then the photographer would hand them a card where they could go online to see their picture with the monkey – and it was the company’s website. The security at The Met, of course, would not let me in with a suitcase. So I just got to go to this very fancy party for free. I assumed the gig was a bust. I ate free sushi and drank free drinks all night long.

Then at 12:30 am the guy was like “Alright we’re gonna go to this afterparty, and you’re gonna do it there.” And I was already very drunk but was like OK. Then we get to the afterparty and he’s nervous not enough people are there. So again I think the gig is over. I have more drinks at the afterparty. Then at 2 am he’s like “Get into the monkey!” I go to the bathroom to change and I’m so drunk I just get fully naked and then get into this monkey costume. Now I’m running around, wasted, as this monkey with a huge blue dick and I’m just dancing and people are taking photos, and I’m nude inside. It was so surreal.

But the weirdest part was at 4 a.m., when the gig was finally over, I changed back into my tuxedo and was walking to the train. A Lexus pulls up next to me and the window rolls down and a beautiful woman who’s driving the Lexus propositions me for sex. Then she spreads her legs and reveals she’s got no pants on. Like no pants. I found out later that after Gulliani cleaned up Times Square, apparently some prostitutes would rent high end cars and drive around the far west side and proposition men coming back from conferences at the Jacob Javitts center and shit. I asked her if she would drive me to Brooklyn. She refused. I said no thank you then and went to get on the subway. Because even though I had $250 in cash on me, I couldn’t afford a cab.

As somebody who has toured all across the country, I am curious to know what may be some places around the country that are exceptionally great to do live comedy in, but people may not realize it on the surface? What are some more obscure places in which you have performed that you were pleasantly surprised to work in?

Lexington KY. When I drove into Lexington for a one nighter at a punk bar I was like, “Oh no, I’ve made a mistake.” But it was honestly one of the funnest nights of comedy I’ve ever had. Packed house. Everybody having fun. The bartender gave me a bottle of bourbon at the end of the night. That’s a good night.

 

 

In 2017 you appeared and worked on the award winning film The Big Sick, which is still one of my favorite films of the last 10 years hands. I am curious to know how your experience was working on this soon to be considered classic film? In the making of the film, did you get the feeling that you were a part of something very special that would go on to receive such acclaim?

We had no idea. Honestly, I didn’t know if the movie would even get a wide release. I thought maybe we were just making a small indie film that would be a blip on the radar. But to have it do so well, and be so many people’s favorite movie of that year. Well, it’s ruined me. That was my first movie. Nothing will ever compare to that.

In that same year you co-host the absolutely brilliant podcast Emotional Hang, alongside our friend and past guest Joe DeRosa. I learned about the podcast from Joe, and absolutely fell in love with it. Can you tell us a bit about how the idea came about to do this show? And how was your experience creating such a gem of a podcast?

Joe and I became friends after we both moved to LA. And we realized it’s so rare to become friends as adults, so we decided we should just do a podcast about adult friendship. It fell apart when I had a family and Joe started splitting his time between here and NYC, but it still holds a special place in my heart. As does Joe.

 

 

Can you tell us a bit about your weekly show Hot Tub with Kurt & Kristen? I have heard several murmurs on several podcasts that I love about this show? How did you come around to teaming up with Kristen Schaal to make this show happen?

This is how I started doing stand up and sketch and writing in general. I’d been doing improv for 7 years, I was 29. I wanted to start writing for myself but didn’t know how. I figured I’d start a variety show. So I asked the artistic director at the PIT in NYC, who at the time was Arian Moayad, now a very accomplished actor  (he’s great in Succession on HBO) about doing a weekly show. He mentioned Kristen Schaal had just asked him the same thing. I didn’t know Kristen at the time, but had seen her perform once. I walked backstage and was like “Hey you wanna do a variety show with me?” and she was like ok. And then it turns out, we really clicked. That was 14 years ago. We still do the show every Monday.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I’ve been working on a ton of stuff – multiple TV shows, I just wrote a movie, I’ll be on the second season of Black Monday on Showtime, and I’ve got a new podcast coming soon, but it’s all too early to mention names and places.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My daughter this morning.

 

Check out Kurt’s weekly show, Hot Tub at The Virgil in Los Angeles, especially this coming Monday as it is my daughter’s 10th birthday, and our friend and past guest David Gborie will be there! Maybe David and Kurt will give a shoutout to Lelaina if one of you asks ever so nicely.

 

 

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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