Comedian Dave Hill on TLC, Vices, Ira Glass, the Internet, Depression, and His Z-List Celebrity


Comedian Dave Hill on TLC, Vices, Ira Glass, the Internet, Depression, and His Z-List Celebrity


And you don’t do much editing for it.
No, very little. It’s really just cut down for time. But, it’s me sitting around in my apartment with somebody. And people seem to like it for that reason, but people also don’t like it for that reason.

Where did you learn how to craft a story?
I think socially I’m the worst storyteller. I’ll tell a really long story that has no point.

But when you tell stories on stage they’re very artfully crafted.
Thank you. I hope they are! I think I just try to hone them and hear other stories from people that do it the way I like. Storytelling is weird because it’s not stand up.

It’s still a comedy act.
It is. But it’s just finding the point of it and what’s funny about it. Of course this is probably the best person to talk to about it, but Ira Glass has been…

I didn’t want you to say that but I knew you were going to say that.
I hate saying, ‘oh, my friend Ira Glass,’ who’s the master at it. It’s a bit like saying, ‘oh, I got really good at dribbling because my friend Michael Jordan showed me a good way to do it.’ It’s such a dumb thing to say. But I’ve learned a lot from him. For some of the pieces I’ve done for [This American Life] he told me ‘your story is not really about that, it’s about this other thing.’ It’s about examining the story from different angles.

Do you feel like your comedy works differently in the UK than it does here?
I’d say that the only thing that just does not work, ever, over there – that they don’t ever seem to like — and I don’t do a lot of it, but I have some jokes that are like intentionally horrible. And they don’t find that amusing at all.

Can you give me an example?
Just taking sorority girl jokes and putting myself into them instead. Like, what’s the difference between me and a bowling ball? You can only fit three fingers inside a bowling ball. What’s the difference between me and a 747? Not everyone’s been inside a 747. It’s not a staple of mine, but once in a while I’ll throw that in over there — not that it’s the best joke here either — but there they’re just like, ‘no, don’t do that’.

I used to think that people who have English accents are a bit smarter. I now know that’s not the case at all. They’re just as dumb as Americans. People always think, ‘oh, Monty Python, Ali G, The Office, they’re really smart,’ but there’s tons of stupid horrible shit over there. We just happen to get the good stuff.

How was your show last night? Did you do comedy or music?
I kind of did both. I’ve started doing shows where they would have a house band and I’d bring my guitar and play. Comedy is really extroverted, and playing the guitar is more introverted, so it’s nice to be able to talk and then go to my guitar, which is where I’m most comfortable . Since I don’t always have a band, I’ve been creating music loops and then playing guitar solos over them. And I’ve been writing these erotic short stories, so [last night] I just read those and made like a sexy soundtrack and played guitar solos. The stories work well with the guitar, and soloing is pretty much jerking off anyways so it fit.

So what other projects are you working on?
I’m writing a new book. I think it will have more short-form pieces, but also some essays, and I may draw a bit more in this book too. My first book is being adapted into a TV show, but who knows how far that will go, and I just finished a screenplay that hopefully someone will buy. But who knows. Then my band, Valley Lodge, we just finished making a record. So that will come out at some point.

How many guitars do you have now?
Probably like twenty. But pretty much guitars and suits are my only vices, really.

Those are some pretty fucking expensive vices.
I know, they are. But I think I’m good at getting deals.

Do you use our celebrity status to get awesome deals?
Oh huge celebrity status. Well, yeah, as much as I can. What Z-list celebrity I have.

Let’s talk “jam bands, people who wear sweatpants on airplanes and the unpredictable coming and going of the McRib”.
I don’t genuinely hate jam bands. I just have a disdain for them, because I like to rock out, and I think the culture surrounding jam bands – doing mushrooms and camping out–  has little to do with the music.

People wearing sweatpants: no one should ever wear sweatpants anywhere but to the gym. And even then… I mean, there was a time when people would dress up when getting on a plane or going to dinner. And it’s not that hard to look halfway decent! I mean, [points to his own outfit: floral dress shirt, brown slacks, and sparkly purple socks] this is totally comfortable! I just think [wearing sweatpants] is rude. Your asshole is just sitting right on the fabric for me. Someone’s flabby ass cheeks, it’s just gross. Their boner too.

As for the McRib, I just don’t know why they don’t just keep it on the menu. Everyone loves it. They’d make a lot of money. I mean they’re doing fine without it. Maybe that’s their thing, they want to get people worked up, like ‘get the McRib while you can’.

How do you define the word motherfucker? You always use it so positively.
Well it’s not fucking someone’s mother. Just, you know, full on: like a motherfucker. I don’t like to use profanity in a negative way. It doesn’t sound nice, you know? It sounds really angry. If I get mad I do it.

Do you really listen to Beyonce when you run?
Only “Irreplaceable”. I’ve gone running and have only listened to that song over and over for like an hour straight. But I also listen to TLC a lot. That’s dated. I just can’t say enough about that band.

Which one’s your favorite?
Chilli! She could order me around all day. I would just do whatever she told me to do. I am seriously so in love with her. Do you know the song “Damages”? No one does. Because it was on 3D, the album after Left-Eye died.

Where do you get your suits?
Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood. Pretty much those two. I think it’s hard to talk about this without sounding like an asshole, but I rarely buy clothes in America. Most of my clothes I buy in London because, in general, I think people dress better there.

Favorite suit accessories?
I like cuff links and brooches. But for a straight man to wear a brooch it can go really wrong.

Do you have a lucky one?
The one that I’ve been wearing a lot is a white rose. It might be made out of ivory. I hope it isn’t, but it probably is. Also, I bought an ascot in London, and catching my reflection with it I thought I looked like such a fucking asshole. But my London friends were like, “no, here it’s not considered an asshole look”. In America, it’s definitely considered an asshole look.

Do you have any sartorial rules?
No pleats: that’s a no-brainer. I always have to have flat fronts. And then it’s just trying to not be too fat to fit into the suits. That’s the trick. I’m always right on the edge.

Do you feel like since your book has come out your popularity has skyrocketed?
Um, I don’t feel popular. I don’t know; whatever level of popularity I am is not enough. There’s nothing that could happen that would ever be enough.

You’re very courteous to your fans, even on Twitter.
I try to be nice in general, but if people are mean I’ll be way meaner back to them. I did this TV show called “Would You Rather” with Michael Ian Black, and someone was like, “Hey, @michaelianblack, you were so great on ‘Would You Rather’, you were like a million times funnier than @mrdavehill.” Why the fuck would you say that? I’d just come back from London, where, you know, guys call each other cunts, and I couldn’t tell what gender this person was from their profile, so I called them a cunt, thinking it was a dude. I would never knowingly call a woman that. And she flipped out! Also, her Twitter description said something about cancer. So said ‘Fuck you! I hope you die of cancer.’ And then she really flipped out.

I like it when comedians retweet the mean tweets from their followers.
I do that sometimes. Or, if some sixteen-year-old boy is harassing me and trying to get a reaction, I’m always like “hey, Chris, stop DMing me about sex. I don’t want to have sex with you.” And then they shut up.

What’s your favorite object in your apartment?
My signed Morrissey album. Lucy Roche and Rufus Wainwright did two festivals with Morrissey got him to do that for me. And this picture of my grandfather with Jack Nicklaus. Both my grandfathers were sharp dressers.