Growing up as an only child — a member of the “worldwide, super smart, afraid of conflict, narcissist club” — John Hodgman had plenty of time to develop interests and “hateful, pretentious eccentricities.”
Because of that, Hodgman is a man who figuratively wears a lot of hats. The comedian, author, actor, humorist and former Apple pitchman is set to bring his stand up show, “I Stole Your Dad,” to the Birchmere on Thursday.
“Even as I child, I was interested in a lot of different things,” Hodgman said. “I loved comedy. I loved music. I loved ‘Dr. Who.’ I loved magazine and books. I didn’t care for poetry that much – I’m just going to be blunt about it. And I loved wearing a fedora and walking around with a briefcase in high school looking like a dope. None of those things have really changed. I have a lot of interests and preoccupations.”
Hodgman grew up in Massachusetts and graduated Yale in 1994 with a degree in literature. He worked as a literary agent before making a name for himself as an author himself.
“Once I realized no one was going to pay me to write serious short stories about people with feelings — which is what I wanted to do … I made sure to have a professional career that would allow me to cultivate my restlessness. So I was a literary agent because I could work with a lot of different writers … and tell them what to do so I didn’t have to do any of it myself.
“A lot of this is simply that I’m ADHD. I like a lot of different things and it’s hard for me to pay attention long enough.”
Afterwards, Hodgman started writing for magazines, which allowed him to explore the world of CD-ROM video games, he said. “That and deep-fried Twinkies and barbecue, and eventually profiling creators of books and movies like Alexander Payne and Ayn Randian objectivism,” Hodgman said. “And you just dip into all these different worlds, which I really loved to do. The common thread to this … was that I could be funny.”
Hodgman, who has written three books of made up “facts,” first appeared on the incredibly popular Comedy Central program “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” Since then, he’s appeared on the show several times as a “resident expert,” lent his voice to cartoon shows such as “The Venture Bros.,” provided “expert analysis” for the Primetime Emmy Awards – where he would make up facts about the winners – guest starred in many other TV shows such as “Battlestar Galactica,” and “Community,” and starred alongside actor Justin Long in the “You Should Buy A Mac” Apple commercial series from 2006 to 2010.
Despite being labeled as the “I’m a PC” guy in the commercials, Hodgman said he was thrilled to work on the spots and would not be against going back into the studio to record more.
“It was fun to go into the great, white void with Justin Long, who’s really funny and still a friend … and just play with a character who was, arguably, the role of a lifetime I didn’t even know I was looking for,” Hodgman said. “I’m always happy when people remember those ads and if any of the readers work for Apple, let them know I still have the suit and glasses. I’m ready to go.”
With all that he does and continues to do, Hodgman said he’s particularly comfortable doing one thing.
“I like lying down in my bed, checking my email. It gives me the feeling that I’m getting information from the world and that I’m somehow being productive, but I’m also lying down in bed.”