by Patricia Grandjean
May 1, 2013
11:09 AMBox Office
Front Row Q&A: John Hodgman
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When it comes to the art of BS, nobody does it better than humorist John Hodgman, 41: Yale University graduate (class of '93), author of three books of faux world knowledge (including The Areas of My Expertise and More Knowledge Than You Require), and "Resident Expert" on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." On May 4, he'll participate in The Connecticut Forum's final panel of the season—"Funny Smart People"—at The Bushnell in Hartford, along with Carrie Brownstein (creator and star of the Independent Film Channel series "Portlandia"), Baratunde Thurston (digital director at The Onion) and moderator Colin McEnroe. For more information, call (860) 509-0909 or visit ctforum.org.
How do you do?
How do you do?
All right. Let's talk about The Connecticut Forum.
Let's talk about that. You're going to be part of a panel in May . . .
Yes, I believe that the panel is called "Funny Smart People." I'm not sure if those are individual sentences or those adjectives are all supposed to modify "people." I definitely know that Carrie Brownstein is very funny and smart; I agree that that's also true about Baratunde. I can't say either about myself because that would be vain. I'm not sure, myself, whether I am a person or a robot. This was an invasive thought that came into my mind when I was 12 years old—what if I'm in fact a simulation of a human, and how would I know for sure? I could have been built two years ago and had my memories implanted. This is just pretty basic, science-fictiony stuff. They used to do this all the time in my hometown of Brookline, Mass., in the 1970s, that's why I'm concerned.
So did they call that The Brookline Project, like The Manhattan Project?
Yeah; you read about it! And, of course, Connecticut is the home of some of the most famous human simulacrums: The Stepford Wives. It may be a whole New England thing, for all I know.
I think I may work with one, come to think of it. Now I'm worried.
Oh, really? [laughs] I'm pretty confident that Carrie and Baratunde are regular old humans. Beyond that, actually: extraordinary humans.
Agreed. I guess Lena Dunham was supposed to join you, but she was unable to.
Yeah, I think she's a little busy these days. It's a shame; I was looking forward to meeting her, as I am a fan. But I hope that I shall meet her at some point, and all of Connecticut will meet her soon. But Carrie and Baratunde are both brilliant people.
I've been a fan of Carrie since her band Sleater-Kinney.
Yes, she is a rock star . . .
In fact, I once got into an argument with someone over who was better: The Doors or Sleater-Kinney.
I can settle that fight for you right now—the answer is Sleater-Kinney. The Doors were a terrible band.
Thank you! I've always believed they were a terrible band, and have a very hard time finding anyone who agrees.
Well, you may now include that on the record, in Connecticut Magazine.
And of course, their greatest moment of notoriety happened in New Haven, where I live.
And where I used to live. What was their greatest moment of notoriety in New Haven? I have not heard that particular legend.
They were the first band to be busted onstage, by a New Haven cop.
On what stage were they busted?
The Palace Theater.
[Thinking aloud] The Palace Theater . . . there are a lot of grand theaters in New Haven, aren't there?
There are. The Palace is not one of them—it pretty much fell to dust.
[Laughs] I would imagine a lot of them have, unfortunately.