T.J. Miller talks Dane Cook, Denver comedy and eating mustard out of a can

Categories: Comedy

Well, now that you have a platform on Comedy Central with your own show where you feature standup comedians, do you have plans to feature any of these Denver comics?

Oh, yeah. But the problem is that the network ultimately decides everything. I want to always be trying to have some sort of show where I'm showcasing other people. That's always been the most rewarding thing for me. I don't get such a kick about bringing more exposure to myself; as much as I like talking to you right now, I am not my favorite topic of conversation. The cool thing is that if I can be a guy from Denver who is successful enough to point the magnifying glass over that city -- first of all, it's going to be very hot, because there's so much sunshine there, but also it's going to help grow the scene.

Also, there's a Chicago mafia out here [in L.A.], where the Chicago people run all the best rooms, they're doing the most television. Almost half the standups on Mash Up are from Chicago. Or maybe more. And I'm a Chicago comic, I came up there and know all the Chicago comics out here. So the next step, logically, is to do something for Denver. I have an allegiance to Chicago and Denver and will tolerate New York and Los Angeles.

So you see L.A. as a necessary evil?

It is. It absolutely is. I hate living in Los Angeles; I wish I could live in Denver. But I can't do what I do from Denver. But I'm Mile High until I die. I think Chris Charpentier, Ben Roy, Andrew Orvedahl, Adam Cayton-Holland are all these interesting people who are getting so good. Ben Kronberg is a comic I knew from Los Angeles, but I could tell he was from Denver.

But it shouldn't so much be about "Denver vs. these cities." It should be more "Denver + these cities = success." Now, "Denver + Creede, Colorado"...that's a different kind of success.

Well, beyond Denver, it seems the entire U.S. is going through a kind of comedy renaissance. Standups like Louie C.K., Marc Maron and Patton Oswalt are achieving a level of cultural relevance that wasn't possible ten years ago.

I think you're absolutely right. It's a very strange thing, because I never really saw standup going away. Now, we all know about the boom and the bust [of standup] in the late '80s and early '90s, but I've seen a steady growth from there. I mean, when Dane Cook was on Last Comic Standing, people were saying, "Oh, there's a renaissance now!" But what people don't acknowledge or talk about is that there are different genres of comedy: There's blue-collar comedy; there's indie comedy; there's pop comedy, which is sort of what Dane Cook is; there's darker comedy, like [Daniel] Tosh; there's absurdist comedy, like myself; there's observational comedy, like Patton Oswalt. There's all different types of comedy, like there's all different kinds of music. You never ask someone, "Do you like music?," because everyone likes music. So instead of asking, "Do you like standup?," it should be, "What kind of standup do you like?"

But we're not at a place where someone's identity is mapped onto their taste in standup the way they are with music. If you're into hip-hop, metal or classical, that says a lot about your identity in a way that comedy doesn't.

Not yet, but I think we're on our way. Those heavy-metal guys are into Brian Posehn; if you're into indie rock, you like David Cross or Sarah Silverman; if you're a frat dude, you're into Tosh. And that's why I made that music album. I'm still looking for ways to do satire and comedy that are new. And to bring attention to Denver.

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