The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

A Man of Humor

Humorist John Hodgman, by most standards, has done more than enough for a lifetime. He may be most recognizable from his portray of the PC in Apple’s “Buy a Mac” commercials. But he’s been a literary agent, worked for the New York Times, published books, appeared on television and in film, and at 8 p.m. Friday, he’ll appear at the Englert Theater, 221 E. Washington St. Admission is $25.

The Daily Iowan: So you’ve performed or otherwise put your work out for the public: TV, radio, book, and magazines. Do you have a favorite?

John Hodgman: I have to say that you can’t beat the catering on television, but the real action is in live performance. I’d started out as a writer for various print publications and then accidentally sneaked onto [“The Daily Show”] by the auspices of my books of fake facts. Because of my association with “The Daily Show,”a misapprehension began to emerge that I was a standup comedian. I tried to avoid this for a long time. [But] I began to do something that was an imitation of standup comedy, and I came to realize that I enjoyed doing it.

DI: So doing all of these things, appearing on television, touring, writing, and being a father, how do you find the time for all of it?

Hodgman: Well, I don’t have a job (laughter). It is my job to come up with things to say and entertain people and at the very least not be a waste of their time. I’ll still do “The Daily Show” about once a month, and occasionally, I will do some acting jobs. But right now, standup is taking that core creative place that writing books used to have.

DI: Is there something you’ve done that you’re most proud of?

Hodgman: Do you mean aside from loving my family and raising my children right?

DI: (Laughter) Yes.

Hodgman: Yeah, you don’t want to hear about all that stuff. Probably doing a good enough job on “The Daily Show” that they asked me to come back and therefore changed my life forever. More recently, though, I booked 13 unadvertised shows in Brooklyn; we called them “secret society” because they were never advertised. Which was surreal. It was an incredibly exhilarating new way to write. But it gives me happiness, real happiness now to go on the road to share the stuff that I’ve developed and the new trips that I’ve discovered.

DI: So you’ve been on “This American Life,” you’ve guest-starred on shows such as “Community,” you’ve done film. Do you have a favorite experience?

Hodgman: Yeah, the Apple ads were an incredible gift. Not only were they fun to do — everyone was great — but they were financially remunerative as well; they changed my life. So many surreal moments on that set. And it all happened in this big white void with just [Justin Long and me] in it, and it was so great. It was an amazing nexus of good fortune and happiness.

But the part that I remember most was on the last day of shooting, though we didn’t know it was the last day; we finished the commercial, and I gave Justin a hug, I went back to my trailer, and I looked at the prop watch that I’d worn in the ads. It was the kind of watch a PC would wear. And the hands and numbers had fallen off of it, after three and half years that day. And they were just pathetically piled under the glass of the watch face. But here I am now, and I just think it’s amazing that even when the hands have fallen off, time goes on.

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