10 Comics to Watch
Who: Last November, this Yale-educated New York Times contributor was on a book-promo tour plugging his Dutton-published literary parody “The Areas of My Expertise” when he made an appearance on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.”Hodgman so impressed host Stewart and exec producer Ben Karlin that they invited him to return as a scripted “resident expert.” Since then, Hodgman — an articulate, bespectacled nerd with fictional knowledge of everything from World Cup Soccer to hobos — has appeared regularly on “The Daily Show” ever since. “He had a very natural rapport with (Stewart) and a great comedic delivery and deadpan we thought would work well for our show,” Karlin says. “John has a really fine eye for the details and nuances of language, and can communicate them in a way that doesn’t sound like he’s reading words — it emanates very naturally from his being.” The “Daily Show” gig led to a co-starring role in a ubiquitous Apple Computer TV campaign, playing the role of the virus-plagued bumbling embodiment of a PC to a younger, hipper Mac foil. The Apple gig brings Hodgman closer to his boyhood hero — he notes that George Plimpton, was also a technology pitchman, hawking the Intellivision vidgame platform in the 1980s. A literary agent turned comedy writer, Hodgman talks and writes something like Henry James might at an open-mic night. Think highly grammatical, extra dry, yet somehow sweetly engaged. Right on time for the fake-news generation, his book contains fake trivia reminiscent of the almanac tradition. One section lists 700 hobo names, while another fantastically details “What Will Happen in the Future.” Hodgman, who has no formal comedy training, has been a contributor to NPR’s “This American Life” since 2000. What’s going on: Hodgman is under contract with Dutton Adult to write two more books over five years, the next tentatively titled, “More Information Than You Require.” Hodgman’s Brooklyn performance series “The Little Gray Book Lectures” is an ongoing cult-favorite variety show. Take: “Apparently, a lot of it involves telling jokes — I think you have to learn how to tell the best jokes you possibly can,” Hodgman says. “I don’t know if I’ve done that yet or not, but I do feel it’s the same business as telling stories, whether it’s in a fiction context or nonfiction. Be as honest as possible. Be yourself as much as possible, even if part of yourself is a liar.”
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