The funnyman talks Philly fashion and the passing of dear friend Kim Jong-il.
Too strange and volatile. That’s how TV execs once described cult comedian and consummate showman Dave Hill. The characterization is apt, but being “strange and volatile” is part of Hill’s charm. He’s comedy’s master craftsman. And what appears, onstage, as effortless is actually a well-honed skill that Hill has perfected through years of writing and performing in New York. When not shredding the axe with Walter Schreifels (Gorilla Biscuits, Rival Schools) in the Walter Schreifels’ Band or with Moby in the metal band Diamondsnake, this multi-hyphenated host-writer-rocker-Twitter phenom-correspondent-jack of all trades is actively and attentively engaged in making quirky, off-beat comedy for This American Life, HBO and some obscure TV networks that no longer exist. PW managed to pull Dave away from his busy schedule to chat about comedy, Philly fashion and the loss of his best friend, Kim Jong-il.
You started out as a writer and you kinda ended up being a performer by chance. You once said you never planned on being a comedian, so you had no expetations. Do you still feel that way?
Yeah, when I first started performing, I really didn’t know much about the comedy world. I never thought much beyond whatever show I was doing that night and I didn’t have any goals or anything like that. It was just something new to try. I figured if nothing came of of it, it might at least help me be less shy at dinner parties and things like that. But after a while, it became my job so it didn’t take long for me to have all sorts of expectations, goals, hopes and dreams and stuff like that, which has caused me to be just as depressed and suicidal as anyone else in comedy. But every once in a while, I’ll think about all the fun stuff I get to do and remember that in many ways my life is much better than when I used to paint houses and live with my parents. I do have to buy my own groceries now, which kind of blows, but other than that things are really looking up.
Last year, GQ named Philly men the sixth worst dressed in the country. As a sharp-dressed man and someone who covers New York’s Fashion Week practically every year, any style tips?
Really? I’ve been to Philly a lot and I never found the men to be that poorly dressed. Then again, I love satin Phillies jackets. Washington, D.C., on the other hand— whoa. Those guys need to take a good hard look in the mirror. They are a little too comfortable with pleats in that town. Man, I am really being a bitch right now. Sorry. Anyway, as for tips, when in doubt—go just slightly tighter than whatever you were originally thinking. Another good rule of thumb is to dress like any member of the Rolling Stones circa 1965, especially Charlie Watts, who remains one of the best-dressed people on the planet to this day.
You recently lost your good friend, supreme leader of North Korea Kim Jong-il. (Our condolences) What was he like?
Where do I start with that loveable old nutjob? He loved pizza, loved to play video games and, most of all, just loved to laugh a lot. And he really had a way with a pantsuit. That’s the guy I’m gonna remember. Sometimes I’ll put on a rerun of According to Jim just to imagine him choking with laughter in the background. He was my boo. I’m really gonna miss him.
Dave Hill performs Thurs., Jan. 12, 8pm. $10. With Dan Eastman + Nikki Walter. Tin Angel, 20 S. Second St. 215.928.0770. tinangel.com
20 nights of summer laughter