Stage & Dance

Brian Posehn’s passions: writing, acting, and nailing a joke doing stand-up

Brian Posehn performs this weekend at Comedy Off Broadway.
Brian Posehn performs this weekend at Comedy Off Broadway. Photo provided

When it comes to his career, Brian Posehn isn’t just “living the dream.” He’s living a few dreams ... including some he’d never even considered.

As a successful comic, writer and actor, Posehn has a rather large and growing IMDb page. He has written for HBO’s critically revered sketch comedy series “Mr. Show” and for various other shows, and his distinct look and voice have led to appearances in sitcoms ranging from “Seinfeld” and “Friends” to current series including “The Big Bang Theory” and “New Girl,” the movies “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer” and Rob Zombie’s “The Devil’s Rejects,” and voice-over work for animated series (“The Simpsons,” “American Dad”) and films (“Surf’s Up” and the impending Dreamworks release “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie”).

But for Posehn, it has been his initial work stand-up comedy that has let him scratch almost all his creative itches for the past two decades, ever since he moved to Los Angeles.

“I came here to write, and my agent was like, ‘You’re doing stand-up, too?’” Posehn said. “I had an agent say, ‘You have to pick one,’ and I said, ‘That’s ridiculous,’ I just want to be busy all the time. I go insane if I don’t have something to do.”

A Sacramento native and self-described “funny weird kid,” he grew up gravitating to the worlds of stand-up comedy, horror movies, heavy metal and comic books in nearly identical degrees of crazed fervor, which hasn’t diminished with age.

“I feel like I was always that way. Everything I’ve ever been interested in, I’ve never been passive about any of it,” he said. “I never just ‘liked’ things.”

As he found his comedic voice, along with fellow comics like Patton Oswalt and Louie C.K., Posehn went from simply telling jokes and getting laughs to being a storyteller who let audiences in on his own awkward personality, nerdy interests and personal life. He found a home in off-beat “alt-comedy” (he hates that label), and he toured, playing rock clubs with peers including Oswalt, Maria Bamford and Zach Galifianakis on “The Comedians of Comedy Tour” in the mid-2000s.

With five specials under his belt bearing titles that give away his sense of humor — 2006’s “Live In: Nerd Rage,” 2010’s “Fart and Wiener Jokes,” and 2013’s “The Fartist,” to name a few — Posehn’s more recent offerings, including “Criminally Posehn,” released last year, and his most recent album “25x2,” shows that he’s pushing himself into some slightly different comedic territory.

“(I’m) trying to get away from some of the things I did for the last couple years,” he said. “I kind of had to pull back from that a little bit. I have established myself as the premiere fart comedian.”

As a proud nerd, Posehn continues to indulge his interests and capitalize on unexpected opportunities. In addition to writing a book entitled “Forever Nerdy” and hosting a comedy podcast, “Nerd Poker,” he recently had a “holy crap” moment when he hooked up with Marvel and co-wrote 45 issues of the popular wise-cracking comic book mercenary “Deadpool.” He got to pen dialogue for the title character and for other staples of the Marvel universe.

Posehn is in a rather exciting position of not knowing what opportunities could come next or when things might slow down, but even the feelings he gets at his computer, in the sound booth or on the screen — and the praise that follows when that work is released — don’t quite measure up to when this “funny weird kid” gets to be funny and weird in front of a live crowd.

“When I get a bit that I’m really proud of, that’s a feeling that is hard to beat,” he said. “I love all of my jokes, but when you get a bit that surprises an audience, ... or a twist that fans don’t expect, ... that’s my favorite high.”

Blake Hannon: blake.hannon81@gmail.com.

If you go

Brian Posehn

When: 7:15 p.m. April 27, 7:15 and 9:45 p.m. April 28 and 29

Tickets: $12 April 27, $18 April 28, $23 April 29

Where: Comedy Off Broadway, 161 Lexington Green Circle

Call: 859-271-5653

Online: Comedyoffbroadway.com

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