Joe Pera talks to me Art + entertainment | Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh City Newspaper has summoned comedian, writer and actor Joe Perr, whose tour “Spring in the Midwest” and “The Belt Belt” stops in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, May 10 at the Carnegie Library in Homestead to discuss play in the region, research and what’s so funny about bodybuilders.

Although Pera has been doing stand-up since college, at the moment he is perhaps best known for his TV show, Joe Pera is talking to you. Season 3 recently aired on Adult Swim and is available through a variety of subscription services. In the show, Perea plays a fictional version of himself as a “soft-choir choir teacher who is simply enthralled by the geological beauty of Michigan” at the Market, a university town on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. His character in the latest season is called “a man of honesty who loves to describe things”, which fits perfectly into the tone of the show’s presentation.

Pera’s humor and the show’s humor, which he repeatedly called “community,” is not at all like anything else on stage or on screen.

“I like spontaneity,” Pera says Los Angeles Times. “There’s a joke Dan [Licata] wrote that reveals a lot of humor: “You know what I like most about barbecue? Smoky aroma. [Laughs.] It’s just literally. [Keeps laughing.] There’s something so funny – it’s just a statement of fact. [Still laughing.]”

Every 11-minute episode with titles like “Joe Pera Denies You Sleep,” “Joe Pera is Waiting with You,” and “Joe Pera Reads You Church Announcements” (which is an absolutely valuable snippet of what he hears “Baba O “Riley” from The Who, for the first time), begins with a direct address by a difficult, kind and respected music teacher from the small town of Pera and often includes some aspects of the character’s deep knowledge of hometown and nature. Pera’s research interests are central to the show, offering information on a variety of things, from fighting Canadian rats to beans and, more recently, chairs.

At the premiere of the series Joe Perra is in his living room, in the middle gives us a presentation on the regional importance of iron when a family of five arrives go around his house, on the lawn of which is wrong sign “For Sale”. He decides what is right to do to honor the sign. Still holding his piece of iron, he shows them the house without telling them not to put it up for sale.

Something in his serious, undemanding presence, mild inclinations to please people and attention to the everyday details of the material world give him what I see as the masculinity of the Midwest / Rusty Belt, although Pera hesitated to find himself in my region. generalizations.

Although Pera is touring with Carmen Christopher, Christopher recently left the tour to take advantage of an exciting opportunity. Instead, Casey James Salanga will appear with Pera in Pittsburgh.

This interview has been edited and compressed for space and clarity.

You could probably tour anywhere in the United States. Why the Rust Belt and the Midwest?
It just worked out. I love performing in Chicago and Milwaukee because we shoot shows there and have a bunch of friends and it’s just, I don’t know, it’s a good place to be in the spring.

Honestly, I’ve never been to Pittsburgh, but there are my friends Ed and Nick and I’ve been trying for a while to make this show work. I was very excited that this was finally happening so I could see Nick and Ed. Pittsburgh is a little far from New York.

Do you think you have a special resonance in the Rusty Belt and the Midwest that you may not have in other parts of the country?
Hopefully the humor translates, but I don’t know. I always prefer to use local details. The more specific, the better, I think, with comedy and writing. I grew up in Buffalo, so it seems to me that these are the details that I know best from my own experience. But I think everyone can be involved in many things, for example breakfast episode. In different places you go to breakfast differently, but this Saturday morning ritual, routine, I think, is pretty common. The fact that I try to use local details makes it real for everyone, not just for the people where the show takes place.

[The Midwest has] some historical and cultural things that overlap with Buffalo. So it was translated, but it allowed me to get excited about exploring the new place. There was also a desire to put the show somewhere very cold and [Marquette’s] the main street seems to open right to the base of the Upper Lake and it is so huge and just the city is on such a busy but calm background that it feels thematically right for the character and the show.

The first time I was in the Market Joe Pera is talking to you. It’s great up there.
And why not put on a show somewhere where you can take beautiful pictures outdoors? It is simply surrounded by beautiful nature. I learned that shooting is hard [in nature]. And so people don’t, but that’s what I wanted to see on TV. You know, when I sit down to watch something, I like to watch the scenery, like the show. I find it satisfying.

I really love and appreciate how much research is clearly included in your work on the show. I wonder if you use research in your standup and how?
I try to be aware of what I’m talking about. With TV shows writers will stop me and say, “It’s too much detail to be convincing television.” And when I write new jokes, I’ll find out that, you know, there are distances that the public won’t have – they don’t want to listen to facts on stage, so I have to cut a lot of jokes to make them only the necessary information. When you write or read journalism, you feel that someone has done research and knows what it is about. So even though a lot of things are cut, I want that feeling to stay, you know, I believe this guy knows more than he has time to imagine.

What facts or topics are emerging in your stand these days?

I’m trying to come up with an example that will be both funny and interesting. I’ve been researching hermits, but haven’t figured out how to boil it down a bit. I like to write and develop freely. There are many interesting studies of hermits. I read this book, I don’t remember the name, it’s about a hermit who lived in Maine for 27 or 30 years alone without a fire because he didn’t want to warn anyone that he lived there. I started there and had just read about hermits around the world and I was trying to figure out what to do with it, but it didn’t yet present itself as a brief piece for the scene.

How do you find a joke in all the information you collect?

I think as a standup, I developed a feeling when the audience starts to disconnect. I’m on tour now with Carmen Christopher who is a very funny guy. And only in conversation, when we talk, can you say what excites and interests your friends.

We excitedly talked about how unfortunate it is for bodybuilders to have to sunbathe and inflict all these skin damage on themselves. Just kind of talking back and forth like, “I totally support bodybuilding. Any damage caused by steroids may disappear over time, but the damage to the skin is irreversible. So we laughed at that. It’s kind of a nice way things are formed along the way, talking to anyone, especially if you have a comedian friend, talking to them and laughing at each other – it’s a way to make the best stuff.

Joe Pera, Spring in the Midwest and the Rust Belt Tour. 20:00, ed., May 10. Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall, 510 E. 10th Avenue, Munhall.



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