Dan Mintz of Bob's Burgers on Voicing Tina Belcher and Her Trademark Moan
Geeky standup Dan Mintz is awkward as all get out, and that's not a detriment in the slightest. In fact, the comedian and humorist's ill-at-ease stage presence, deer-in-the-headlights gaze, and ultra-deadpan delivery while performing are all part of his bizarre charm. It also makes the often-surreal non-sequiturs -- including many strange and painfully self-conscious barbs about failed relationships or awkward social situations -- he delivers during gigs seem that much more hilarious.
www.facebook.com/pages/Dan-Mintz/84316070321 Comedian Dan Mintz
That's especially true when Mintz's weirdness is coming straight from the mouth of Tina Belcher, the gawky teenage girl that he voices on FOX's animated hit Bob's Burgers. The character, whose the queen of uncomfortably awkward quips, seems like a perfect fit for the comedian and his often-bizarre humor. We discussed Mintz's apt portrayal of Tina during a recent phone interview with the comic prior to his appearance at Stand Up Live this week, and asked him about how he developed his particular comedy style and the upcoming episode of Bob's Burgers that he penned.
You appeared on David Letterman back in February. What was that experience like?
It was really exciting. I'd been wanting to do that for a really long time. I had to buy a suit for it. And I didn't realize until like a day before that I needed the suit so it was kind of insanity running out to get one.
Did you get Letterman to laugh at your jokes?
I don't know if he laughed at my jokes as I had to look at the cameras the whole time. But hopefully he liked them. I guess I'll find out if I ever get asked back.
Did you interact much with Dave? Or did you do your set and just go back to the green room?
Yeah, you just come out and do it and right after he comes and shakes your hand on camera. Everyone says he's just kind of shy and doesn't really talk to people. And then, on my way out I kind of took a wrong turn and ended up running into him after the show. And he was kind of taken aback. He was very polite.
Why are you so droll and deadpan in your humor?
That's always been the kind of the way that I deliver. I've always spoken pretty monotone and when I first started being able to make people laugh was when I was in high school. And I just had the voice that I have and I noticed that I would say sexual things in my voice and people would laugh. And I kind of just worked from there. It was less like deciding, "Okay, these are the jokes I'm going to tell, and now how am I going to tell them? Am I going to tell them in this voice or this voice?" it was more like, "This is my voice, what jokes work best with that delivery?"
Why do you think awkwardness and awkward humor is sort of big right now in pop culture?
I wonder if it just has to do with that, in general, nerds are cooler now. And everyone kind of has part of their mind stuck back in high school. And it used to be that to be accepted in high school you had to be super outgoing and popular, and now you can kind of be your own person and be different.
And it's also sort of always gone through cycles like that in Hollywood. People like watching one type of person and think that's funny in comedy. And when that gets old, all of a sudden, there's something totally different that people want to see. And since like Arrested Development and The Office, people have really just fallen in love with that kind of comedy and hopefully they'll stay in love with it for at least awhile longer...for my benefit.
How much of your jokes and standup material is an extension of your actual personality?
It's not really me exactly, but it's kind of just the way I naturally am when I'm in front of people, 'cause I do naturally have this stage fright. And that was the great thing about starting stand-up, being able to use that and having it work to my advantage. [When] I did debate in high school or if I was a play or anything, I would just be so nervous and not confident and it would just really get in the way. Then all of sudden when I did stand-up, I was like, "Oh, this is actually working for me; The more nervous I am the better."
Comedy has plenty of assholes and insult comics. You seem almost like the antithesis to all that.
Yeah, I know. I almost have like a submissive relationship with the audience. If someone heckles me, I'll usually just kind of laugh at it and go like, 'Well, I'll think I'll give them the chance to feel good,' so I laugh at their joke.
Your trademark is to use a completely normal setup before taking screaming left turn and hitting the audience with some surreal or effed up punchline, correct?
Yeah. The hardest part is coming up with a normal setup, because it's almost like you don't want the setup to be too interesting. Because you want them to kind of be lulled into, oh, this relatable thing before you twist everything in the punchline.
Do you try to get as bizarre as possible with the punchline and therein lies the humor?
Um...kind of. Once I have a premise that I think would work, I kind of just try to look at it from as many angles as possible. You know, you want it to be somewhat bizarre or there won't be any comedy to it, but you also have to make sure its not too out there and there's still some stakes for people to latch onto.