Comedian and “Bob’s Burgers” voice actor Eugene Mirman didn’t sit down to take his final exam in college — he had to perform.
Mirman’s final project at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., was to do a one-hour stand-up routine, as part of a comedy major he created himself. That didn’t set him up to do one-hour comedy specials right after college professionally, however.
“My final project in college was a one-hour stand-up act. It’s not like then, after that, I did an hour very often. I think vaguely it takes five, six years to have something you would perform pretty well for 15 to 20 minutes,” Mirman said. “It’s a very long, slow process (more) than anything else.”
Those years of stand-up practice will be embodied in his approximately hour-long set at Ace of Cups Wednesday.
Comedy was something Mirman said he felt he was born to do, having loved the craft of it from a young age.
“I just loved comedy as a kid and I think at some point, it just occurred to me that you could try it, and I did,” Mirman said.
However, Mirman said there is hesitation and anxiety associated with doing stand-up for the first time.
“I was shaking and so anxious and nervous. It happened to go well, and so I really enjoyed it. The second time you do it, it’s often sort of terrible and you realize how many years you have to go,” Mirman said. “There’s a giant learning curve of just doing it over and over.”
Mirman performed for the first time the summer after high school, at a club in Boston.
“I think my opening joke was, ‘What profession do you think has the highest suicide rate? A lot of people think it’s dentists, but it’s actually kamikaze pilots,’” Mirman said, chuckling.
Currently, Mirman might be recognized as the voice of Gene Belcher on the animated Fox comedy show “Bob’s Burgers,” which follows the life of patriarch Bob and his family as they attempt to operate a hamburger joint.
Mirman said the characters on the show are infused with the personalities of the respective cast members who play them.
“I, or anybody, (bring) partially my own personality, and partially the way the writers did it, to the character. And the character was partially written to me,” Mirman said. “We were all cast before there was a show. Loren (Bouchard, creator of ‘Bob’s Burgers’) brought us all together with the idea that we would bring our personalities to each character.”
Some Ohio State students, such as 8th Floor Improv member Jack McClain, find Mirman’s portrayal of Gene to be authentic.
“There’s something about Gene, you can almost tell he’s (Mirman’s) kind of playing himself in a lot of ways,” said McClain, a second-year in history. “It’s just really genuine. I really like that.”
Mirman is not currently going into the studio for “Bob’s Burgers,” but is instead touring to create material for his next comedy album.
In creating new material, Mirman said he and other comedians often demo jokes at smaller clubs and then use those on tour. Then, over the course of traveling, Mirman said he is able to refine the act.
“The way I mostly work, and probably actually a lot of people, is that I’ll go around (to) lots of new little shows in New York trying out new jokes or pieces, and then put it together into a new 45 minutes or hour,” Mirman said. “Then take that on tour and tweak it. Then sometimes things will happen where you’ll come up with stuff as you’re traveling and add that in. A lot of it is stuff that essentially I know works, but sort of polishing it and figuring out little things and adding to it.”
Holly Kessis, a fourth-year in music, said Mirman’s style of comedy is a bit strange. Nevertheless, she said, she enjoys it.
“His style of comedy is a little out there,” Kessis said. “He kind of says whatever. He has this weird way of saying things. It’s poignant and it makes sense, but it’s also really ridiculous and funny.”
Mirman’s jokes often come from his conception of everyday situations, he said.
“A lot of (jokes are) real stories, but a lot of it is my interpretation of it,” Mirman said. “Say you were mugged or say you went to the supermarket and there’s a thing you saw; you’re not lying about bananas, but bananas are a thing, (and) maybe you have some thought about it. I don’t have any jokes about bananas, and maybe that’s not the best example, but it could be a worse example.”
Ace of Cups is located at 2619 N. High St. Doors are set to open at 8 p.m., with Mirman slated to go on at 9 p.m. Tickets are sold out for the show.