Park Slope

Park Slope comedy pioneer presents Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival

September 12, 2014 By Samantha Samel Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Park Slope-based comedian Eugene Mirman will present the 7th annual Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival in Brooklyn from Sept. 18-22.

“Don’t blame an audience for not laughing,” Brooklyn-based comedy pioneer Eugene Mirman says, when asked what advice he would offer to emerging comedians. No matter how unusual the humor, Mirman says comedians should “figure out how to convey [their humor] to audiences.” 

 In a recent interview, Mirman told the Brooklyn Eagle that most of the time, those who don’t break through in the comedy world are those who stop trying. He suggests it might take “10, 15 years” to become a successful comedian, and he acknowledged the dedication and influence of a giant in the field: “I think Joan Rivers opened doors for comedians and people in general, and was just a powerhouse of comedy,” Mirman said, in light of the Brooklyn-born comedian’s recent passing.

Mirman himself is a longtime member of the comedy world and has helped to cultivate the scene in Brooklyn. Over the past several years, he has organized the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival (EMFC) at The Bell House in Gowanus and Union Hall in Park Slope. This year’s festival is slated for Sept. 18-22 and will feature an array of renowned comedians and other notable personalities, including Ira Glass and Bill Nye the Science Guy, among others.

Mirman, who is widely known for being the voice of Gene on “Bob’s Burgers,” for cohosting popular science show and podcast “StarTalk Live!” with Neil deGrasse Tyson and for his regular appearances on “Flight of the Conchords,” has been a key player in putting Brooklyn on the comedy map through both his own work and his festivals, which feature several local performers. 

A Russian immigrant who moved with his family to Lexington, Mass. when he was four, Mirman has long called Brooklyn home. A Park Slope resident for 15 years now, Mirman revealed to the Eagle that his Brooklyn-based festival actually began as a joke between him and a couple of friends — one of whom, Julie Smith, helps to produce the festival. “We did it one year as a joke and it ended up being really fun,” Mirman said. 

Each year, the festival has been held at The Bell House and Union Hall. “The scale [of the festival] hasn’t necessarily blown up [over the years], we just have a much better idea of how to do it. The first show of any of it was an awards show, and it grew from that,” said Mirman.  

This year’s festival includes two nights of the hit podcast “StarTalk Live!,” the return of the legendary “Pretty Good Friends” show and a variety of performers, including  H. Jon Benjamin, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael Che, Elna Baker, Nick Thune, Jon Glaser, Bridget Everett, Jessi Klein, Wyatt Cenac, Robyn Hitchcock, Derrick Brown and many more.

For the full schedule and ticket information, visit eugenemirmancomedyfestival.com.