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Don’t Let Slayer See You Sweat

Cloris Leachman, look at you…you’re older than the dirt you sleep in,” comedian Brian Posehn told the aging TV star at the Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget. Then, in between chuckles, he added, “Aww, that’s so mean.”

And that’s Posehn – capable of comic brutality (he joked about far worse things at that event) while still maintaining some empathetic affability. In our interview, he said he would have no problem making fun of a certain pop singer until she sobbed, yet even when given the opportunity, he (mostly) refused to disparage the morning radio DJs that many comedians despise.

On May 15 at the LC Pavilion, he will unleash the full brunt of his comedic meanness at Roast on the Range, which offers up his friend Corey Taylor, Slipknot’s lead singer, for public ridicule. The night is a perfect union for Posehn – comedy and heavy metal (he’s also recording an album with Anthrax’s Scott Ian). But don’t expect him to go easy on his rock buddies – quite the opposite.

Is it easier to roast a friend as opposed to just some random celebrity? I think it’s funnier when the people know each other. You know, those Comedy Central roasts work, but I think they’re always best when it’s guys that know each other going after each other, for sure. Because you can pick up the easy targets, but if you really know somebody you really know what to hit.

Have you ever walked away from the podium and wondered if you’d crossed the line with somebody? No, I mean ’cause with roasts, it’s about going brutal so I’m already anticipating hurting some feelings at this one…I think the rock stars are gonna take things harder than the comics will. People are gonna make a lot of jokes about what a monster I am, and I get it. I write way meaner jokes about myself than anybody can come up with, but some of these rock guys and rock wives like Pearl, Scott Ian’s wife, she’s not used to writing self-deprecating material. It might go rough. [laughs]

There has been a shift toward including more comedy stages at music festivals – Roast on the Range being a hybrid of that. What do you think about that marriage? I’ve done Bonnaroo several times now, and that’s one of the biggest festivals in the country, and their way of handling the comedy tent is great. It’s off by itself, and it’s full all day long because some people go just to see those shows and not even check out a lot of the bands.

You know, every once in a while you have to open for Slayer or something and it can be intimidating. I’ve done that at a music festival in Austin. That was one of the scariest 20-minute sets of my life, but it was also satisfying and a lot of fun.

Do you have to adjust your material when you’re performing for a crowd like that? Well, with that kind of thing it’s not so much that you adjust your set, it’s more like you adjust your confidence. You know what I mean? [laughs] It’s on a bigger scale of not letting them see you sweat.

If you could roast anyone alive right now who would it be and why? Katy Perry. ’Cause I really, really hate her. Like, the well is very deep, and I could go off on her for a long time and make her cry.

Last summer you started the comic book series Deadpool, and the first issue was about dead U.S. presidents terrorizing the entire population.  

Uh huh. [laughs]

If you could personally fight one dead president who would it be? Oh, I’m not gonna fight anybody. [laughs] Uhh let’s see, who was the most far gone when they died? Anybody in a wheelchair or a bathtub; I would fight Taft.

FDR was probably the easiest. Yeah, or maybe Reagan ’cause Reagan was so old when he passed. Reagan’s one of the bigger badasses, too, so he might still have had some fight in him. I’ll go with FDR. ‘Cause you can sneak up on somebody in a wheelchair.

That’s true. They’d need help to see you coming. On a recent episode of Comedy Central’s show @midnight, you mentioned that you were once a guest on The Free Beer and Hot Wings morning radio broadcast in Grand Rapids. Please compare this interview to that one, being as mean as possible to me and them. No. [laughs] No, man. I would never want your job. I almost was a journalist, and I almost was a radio DJ. I did both when I was young, and then I chose to do standup instead of doing what you or the Hot Wings guys do so I’m not gonna berate either one of you.

I hate going after morning shows, too, because morning shows are such f*cking easy targets. Yeah, the comedy mostly is lame. You know, they don’t have a ton of time to prepare…those guys do not have easy jobs, having to be funny five mornings in a row for four hours at a time, and I totally have sympathy for that kind of job. But my friends that go after those guys, I’m always behind just shakin’ my head going, “Oh, man. Be nice to the morning DJs.” •