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Ten Years Later: Scott Aukerman and James Adomian Consider Friendship, Gay Stuff, and Life After Death 

Wednesday, Jan 21 2015
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There's the idea of the lone comic working feverishly at his craft, honing it under the glare of many cramped clubs, always in some kind of isolation. That's true, but not complete, because comedy, the whole culture of it, is also pushed forward by what happens at certain gathering points, places where comedians come together to exchange ideas, try stuff out, screw around.

One of these hubs is Comedy Bang! Bang!, a podcast and now TV show hosted by Scott Aukerman, who brings in guests — sometimes comics, sometimes their alter egos — and interviews them. Comedian and impressionist James Adomian is often on, less as himself than as someone else. So here we have Aukerman interviewing Adomian (more or less) as Adomian, which accounts for only some of the eccentricities in the following.

Where appropriate, I have added field notes and annotations to hopefully illuminate some of the mysteries and in-jokes of a long relationship that, like every other, is as strange as it is universal.

James Adomian: Hey, so, Scott.

Scott Aukerman: Yes?

Adomian: I don't think we've ever worked together in person, have we?

Aukerman: We've only done phone interviews like this?

Adomian: We've exclusively talked on the phone like this.

Aukerman: I've never actually seen your face before. I've always wondered what you look like.

Adomian: Well yeah, I do come in heavily cloaked.

Aukerman: I imagine your features as soft, but a bit swarthy.

Adomian: That's right, that's right. Yeah. Sort of a Lawrence of Arabia.

Aukerman: James, do you remember the first time we met? Because I remember the first time I ever saw you.

Adomian: We probably met at El Cid [a club in L.A.'s Silverlake neighborhood tucked sort of under an overpass], perhaps in the audience, or perhaps backstage, or maybe even in one of the bathrooms.

Aukerman: I remember seeing you onstage actually at iO West [an improv comedy club in L.A.] for the first time, I don't know if you remember doing a show there. It was a sketch show that a group of people were doing, I don't really recall who it was. But you did a few sketches including you did one as Maximilian Blank, your sort of Vincent Price character—

Adomian: Oh yes, yes.

Aukerman: —and you did a video sketch where you taped yourself getting very upset that you, it was something to do with your car—

Adomian: It was with [comedian/actor] Josh Fadem! I had a really shitty car back then, it was like an '83 Honda Accord that was severely damaged and barely arguably street legal. And Josh Fadem rode with me once, like I gave him a ride and he was like, "We should shoot a video, this car sucks." And so we just shot a video about the many different ways that car could break down. I don't know, it didn't make any sense, I was 25, it was just driving around screaming.

Aukerman: It was super funny. So you were 25, how long ago was that?

Adomian: It was 10 years ago. We've known each other a whole decade.

Aukerman: I was really struck by how fully formed your voice was. And how you seemed like a guy who had such huge things coming in your career. And—

Adomian: None of that has panned out, obviously.

Aukerman: Well, some would argue with that. But I was really struck by how I wanted to just attach myself to your rising star. So you and I have tried to work together for quite a few years.

Adomian: It never gets past one coffee. No, yeah, we keep writing TV shows or appearing on them together.

Aukerman: As a young guy back then, first of all you're an amazing impressionist, how did you develop that voice, how did you first figure out that you could sound like so many other people?

Adomian: I did it when I was a little kid and I would make people laugh, and when I started being at school, I realized that people didn't necessarily like me or care about me unless I made them laugh. and so that was like the easiest shortcut—

Aukerman: As true today...

Adomian: —that was the easiest shortcut, was just to make fun of teachers. 'Cause I don't know what it is, but something about all teachers make them ideal targets, before you get old enough to do celebrities.

Aukerman: If there was any justice in it, then teachers would still be bigger celebrities than actors and sports stars.

Adomian: I heartily agree. That reminds me, one time I saw Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes. He has a big graphic next to him and he goes [in pretty good Rooney impression], "Here's my solution to America's education crisis. Step one: Fire America's teachers," and then the screen flashed, "Fire America's teachers." And then he went, "Step two: Hire America's seniors."

Aukerman: Okay. By the way I think that because this interview isn't audio, it needs to say next to your name when you start speaking, in brackets, "Does perfect Andy Rooney impression." I think it should really judge the quality of the impression as well, as to how good it is.

Adomian: I agree with you. I think the brackets should be asterisks with maybe little emoticon flashy faces. And then we tag it with, "Aukerman guffaws." [He did not.]

Aukerman: So James, I have a question for you. I found it really interesting in working with you over the years, having you be on my podcast so much—

Adomian: We grew up on the air together—

Aukerman: —I always find it really fun and really, I don't know, I hate to say moving, but it does move me emotionally to see audiences get to know your personal life and to realize that you are a gay performer—

Adomian: Right, we've seen some people come out to the shows expecting just to see generic Joe Straight Comedy, and then when they see that I'm gay they have to tuck away their "Austin 3:16" T-shirts [as in professional wrestler and middle-finger enthusiast Stone Cold Steve Austin] and they quickly start hiding their 700 Club [a Pat Robertson joint] bumper stickers. I've really changed single-handedly a lot of comedy perceptions.

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Brandon R. Reynolds

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