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Grumpier Old Men: Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland 

Wednesday, Feb 24 2016
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Mercury may be the main reason to keep albacore to a minimum in your diet, but from Feb. 29 to March 3, "Too Much Tuna" will have an entirely different meaning. That's because for those four nights, New York septuagenarians George St. Geegland and Gil Faizon will be coming to San Francisco with the touring version of their off-Broadway show OH, HELLO, which New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley hailed as "sour and crotchety old men at their best."

Faizon and St. Geegland — the alter egos of comedians Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, respectively — first came to the public eye with their reoccurring "Too Much Tuna" segment on the former's Kroll Show, which ran for three seasons on Comedy Central. Its plotline — Faizon and St. Geegland serving a special guest a sandwich crammed with excessive tuna fish — gave way to OH, HELLO, which completed a sold-out run at New York's Cherry Lane Theater in December.

Drawing on elements the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theater, the "Comedy Bang Bang" podcast, their respective stand-up specials, and Mulaney's time as the staff writer on Saturday Night Live, the characters of Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland are fully realized, slightly racist old-school New Yorkers who have rather inexplicably been involved in everything from the Zodiac killings to Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters.

SF Weekly spoke with them on a busy day that included St Geegland's intention to take a very lukewarm-to-cold bath, and Faizon's plans to take notes on a Judge Judy episode for his legal journal.

Have you guys ever been to San Francisco before?

George St. Geegland: We went once. I had to go to the bathroom and I couldn't get in to Cosi on the Upper West Side, and then the frame store that normally lets me use their bathroom didn't let me, so I flew to San Francisco and I ended up going to the bathroom at an occult bookstore in the Tenderloin.

Gil Faizon: I was there because I used to move — what we now know was counterfeit — uppers for Kesey and the rest of the Merry Pranksters. We, of course, knew the Beats — that whole scene. We were around and not welcome to be a part of it, but around.

GSG: We love uppers so much.

You'll be in San Francisco for four nights. Is there anything you want to do while you're here?

GSG: You know, we're going to visit the Transamerica Building, because that style is what we're like inside. That whole concrete, Epcot Center-like vibe is very us. So we'll wander in front of Transamerica. We'll go to City Lights bookstore to steal postcard pictures of Marilyn Monroe lifting weights, and then we'll just wander up and down Columbus paying way too much for bad cannoli.

GF: Also, when I'm there, I'm told I'm not allowed on any cable car because my streak of public transportation accidents is tremendous. I've been in at least one cab accident a week for the last six years, and that's why my neck is basically like a slinky.

The Bay Area is the birthplace of a lot of technology. If Apple came to you while you were here and offered to make you an OH, HELLO app, what would you want it to do?

GF: An appetizer?

GSG: An appetizer, yeah. If it could be a passed app, because I like when they're taking wedding photos to just plant myself in one spot — and I'm not invited, by the way, to these weddings — but I'll plant myself in one spot and I'll wait for a passed app. I like when it's a lamb skewer on a bone, so afterwards I can hold the bone, and then I get four bones at once and I pretend that I'm a bear with claws.

GF: Also I do pig blanket. I do pig blanket, and that's the app that I would make. If someone in Silly Cone can make a passed app that we could eat, whether we're invited to the wedding or not, that's something that we would be very interested in doing.

Is there anyone you're really hoping will come see the show while it's here in town?

GF: I've got a few people. We want Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page and all the other people who've made money. We also want their money. Kanye West has revolutionized the idea of raising money, and that's to ask for it. I personally would like some of the Chinatown store vendors who seem amazingly disinterested in selling me stuff to come to the show. And then I want Martin Lawrence, the guy who owns the Martin Lawrence Art Gallery down on Fisherman's Wharf to come, because I want to ask him if he's Martin Lawrence the actor.

GSG: I want a few of those seals from Fisherman's Wharf to come, because they sleep like me. They sleep until they start to fall into the ocean and then they wake up. I'd love the Zodiac to come, because I'm so sore at him, and I don't mean to use strong language, but I'm really sore at the Zodiac, because he stole my thing of writing to newspapers. I used to write these letters, I use to write these screeds, and he took my whole thing.

GF: I would like the Madame Tussaud's Museum wax statue of the current tiny mayor to come to the show. I'd like Ed Lee's wax figurine from Madame Tussaud's museum to come, and if it means, if they have to bring the actual Ed Lee, then so be it.

Now in addition to our city, you've also been to Boston, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. What do you guys pack for a tour this long? What goes in the suitcase?

GSG: I have a leather valise with several buckles, and inside is a mohair throw. I hate hotel comforters, so I carry a mohair throw and a box of Sucrets and a Band-Aid box with a little roach in it, but I always get stopped at the airport.

GF: And as far as me, I take two grapefruit, because I don't trust other cities' grapefruits, and that's four breakfasts because I do a half a grapefruit. I do three pack sugar that I take from my favorite diner in New York where we do "Too Much Tuna." I parse out the sugars for each morning breakfast—

GSG: —you normally over-sugie the first one.

GF: I get so excited. I get so excited. And then what I'll do is I'll bring a sock puppet, because sometimes George goes to sleep before me so I have to bring sock puppet so that I can keep myself entertained. That's what Georgie says.

GSG: Yeah. I like him to have someone to talk to, even if it's one these sock monkeys that does googly eyes.

In addition to your friendship with one another, I know that you guys have a close relationship to Billy Crystal. Did he come see OH, HELLO when it was in New York?

GF: He didn't.

GSG: No, he didn't. I think he and the Whoopster are still made at us because we had a rival Comic Relief that we were trying to do, called Comic Release. It was for the release of dangerous animals. It was to open the zoos, essentially.

GF: We thought that it would be very humorous to watch these animals go cuckoo-bananas.

GSG: In a cartoon sense it would, yeah. Also we had double-booked Paul Rodriguez, and they were furious at us.

GF: We thought, you let the animals go, they attack who's out in the street: the homeless. Two birds, one stone. So they didn't like the competition.

GSG: It was a progressive time. We were all trying to help in our own way.

You guys have mentioned Fisherman's Wharf a few times now. Do you enjoy the street performers that are often out in that part of the city?

GSG: Well, Gil once had a stroke and people thought that he was human statue. When you assist a street performer, you're known as their pimp, so I would pimp Gil out and put him out on the street while he was recovering. He had Bell's palsy and he couldn't move, and these kids would be coming home from these tony private schools, these "one percenters," and they would throw money at Gil because he couldn't move. I saw dollar signs and I saw light bulbs. I saw light bulbs in the drawer where we keep batteries and light bulbs. But I also had an idea that maybe, until Gil recovered fully from physical therapy, that we could use him as human statue, and we did that for what? Six months?

GF: Yeah, that's right. Unfortunately, the stroke didn't take. I recovered, and we were out literally tens of dollars of income.

GSG: By the way, the stroke came on because you bit into that too cold Breyer's ice cream that I told you to let thaw.

GF: Yeah.

GSG: And then what happened was, as soon as his brain popped, he could speak French.

GF: Yeah, but all I could say was "je suis fromage," which means I am cheese. But I spoke it perfectly, so now I like to get gelato. That's my big goal in San Francisco — to get gelato. I also want to go to Pacific Heights and throw eggs at women on their way to SoulCycle.

San Francisco is lucky to have not only the OH, HELLO show coming, but we've also recently found out that we'll be the first city to host the tour for Hamilton next spring.

GSG: What?! What?! What?! What is this shit?

Have you guys seen Hamilton?

GF: We saw Hamilton our super. Our Hatian super named Hamilton Robespierre—

GSG: Hamilton Robespierre Baptiste, yeah. Look, we were assured there would be no other goings-on. We got a letter from Gavin Newsom saying there would be no other goings-on if we came to town.

GF: We were guaranteed by Gavin Newsom. We got a Gavin-tee.

GSG: We've been competing with Hamilton the musical furiously and voraciously ever since we snuck into the second half of it with fake tickets and we were called out from the stage by the cast.

GF: And it was so embarrassing for them.

GSG: It was so embarrassing, because we set up a futon in the aisle, hoping it would pass for seats, and then I started smoking, which didn't help the situation in retrospect.

GF: We were told to leave by the cast, in song, and it's been a rivalry of sorts.

GSG: It's not on the cast album.

GF: I would argue that this San Francisco move for Hamilton is a chess move by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

GSG: It's a move of desperation.

GF: It's a move of desperation by Lin-Manuel Miranda. He thinks he's got checkmate on us, but little does he know we've lured him directly into our trap.

GSG: And you know, we like to joke that we're Lin-Manuel Carrie Bradshaw, and he's Lin-Manuel Miranda. So never forget who's the number one girl in this town, sir.

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About The Author

Zack Ruskin

Zack Ruskin

Bio:
Zack was born in San Francisco and never found a reason to leave. He has written for Consequence of Sound, The Believer, The Millions, and The Rumpus. He is still in search of a Bort license plate.

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