Jon Benjamin Chats with CultureMob on the Road to Seattle
This Saturday April 28 Jon Benjamin will be performing at Barboza in Seattle. [UPDATE: the show has been moved upstairs to Nuemos.] The tour is called Jon Benjamin has a Tour. Though the show didn’t get picked up for a second season, he’s still doing the tour along with Leo Allen and Nathan Fielder.
Nathan Fielder was also in on the conversation, as he and Jon were in a hotel in Boston getting ready for a show.
Tom Mohrman: What was the idea behind the tour?
Jon Benjamin: We did this Comedy Central show that just got canceled. So we started talking about doing a tour to promote the second season, and we didn’t get the second season. We’re still doing the tour in spite of the show.
TM: So has that changed what the tour is about?
JB: No, not really. We’re showing some video from the show, some bits that didn’t air. And that’s about it. So it didn’t matter. Neither did the show, apparently.
TM: Can you tell any of the special guests that might be at the Seattle show?
JB: We’re still working on that right now. There’ll be surprises, or there may be no surprisesâ€¦ I have some people that I know in Seattleâ€¦ maybe a band, perhaps.
TM: How did you get into voice over work?
JB: It wasn’t something I pursued. I fell into it. I didn’t do any voice over work before I auditioned for the show Dr Katz. That’s how I started. Prior to that I had done just comedy, sketch comedy. Once I did that and that show got going I became more known for voice work.
TM: Did it become-
JB: Did it bother me? Yes.
TM: Was it the path of least resistance or did you really get into it?
JB: Well, I got into having a job. That was good. At the time I worked at a library. It was really good. It was a much better job. No offense to libraries. I stacked the books and kicked out masturbators. So it wasn’t the best job, the library.
TM: Doesn’t sound too bad.
JB: Well, masturbators can be, you knowâ€¦ they’re in the middle of something. They don’t want to be bothered.
TM: With a lot of the stuff you do, like Archer, Home Movies, you always seem very off the cuff. Is there any improvising going on or is it always-
JB: I’m an off the cuff kind of guy, Tom. Well Archer there’s not a lot of improvising. It’s a very common question, because it sounds very conversational the way they edit. So there’s not a lot of improvising. Occasionally I will add something, but I don’t offer a huge amount of material to that show. Prior shows like Dr Katz and Home Movies, and shows with Loren Bouchard (who makes a lot of the animated shows I’ve done) there’s a lot of improvising.
TM: It seems like cigarettes were a big part of Jon Benjamin Has a Van what’s-
JB: Yeah, that’s a good observation. It was in the opening. I think initially it was like I don’t smoke at home in New York, and we shot the show in LA. I like smoking. I started again. So I think I brought it into the show, and episode about that. An episode about me starting to smoke. And Nathan Fielder was the only one to turn down a cigarette in the slow motion opening.
Nathan Fielder: I didn’t want to even do it for the opening, as an actor. The slow motion opening with the smoking was supposed to just be for the smoking episode, and then you put it as the opening for the whole season. And the smoking episode was the only one where we weren’t smoking.
JB: Right, we changed the opening and we weren’t smoking anymore. It’s very cerebral. You have to put the pieces together. Yeah.
TM: You mentioned sketch. Have you ever done stand-up?
JB: A little bit. Not in the traditional senseâ€¦ I mainly don’t do stand-up. I mean if anything I’ll tell some jokes woven into a very long drawn out boring story.
TM: I guess I’m kind of curious about what to expect at the show.
JB: Well we’re kind of doing it like a stand-up show, a little bit. Leo will do stand-up, Nathan will do that in Seattle. And I will do a bunch of bits that I’ve done over the years, in New York mostly. Then like I said, we’ll show some videos from the show. Unseen, uncensored videos from Jon Benjamin Has a Van. Then we close out the show with a very grand bit that we put together. (Not so grand.)