JH: Well, I have a lot of affinity and affection for the online world, because I really started my creative life in earnest, writing for McSweeney’s and specifically mcsweeneys.net, and I had written some fiction as service journalism that was published in magazines, which are things that we used to have in the early 2000s that were printed and sold in newsstands. It was an innocent era.
But I didn’t really find my voice as a writer until I was writing for McSweeney’s, and it wasn’t just that they gave me permission and encouraged me to be funny, which was a huge relief, but also it was the interaction with people. It was an advice column, and they sent in questions and I was able to answer them. It was the first time that I had ever interacted with an audience in anything resembling real time, because all other publication would just go out and be lost. And now I was in conversation with an audience, even though it was delayed by a week or two, and I found it to be extremely fun and catalyzing, creatively, and now, performance is the ultimate version of that. It’s instant feedback, and instant conversation.
RS: How does the literary John Hodgman inform the stand-up John Hodgman and vice versa?
JH: I still do consider myself a writer first. Only in 2012 did I start giving my book presentations without a book anymore. I had spent a lot of time onstage and was just getting more comfortable with interacting in the room in real time. And only since the spring did I start writing specifically to present material onstage. So normally, before this year, I would have really written everything out as a book and then adapted that to a script for performance and then I would have essentially either read from it or presented it from memory with a minimum amount of changing and fixing and interacting and improvising.