Ben Miller & Matt Maran

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Ben’s responses to Matt’s questions:

You went to an Ivy League school and studied science, you are very smart, and seemingly well adjusted. What went wrong that got you into doing stand up comedy?

Science will always be my first love, but when I discovered comedy I was completely infatuated so I couldn't resist cheating on science with comedy.

The first open mic I ever did was at age 16, my dad had to accompany me to a bar in Chicago. The whole time the comedians made fun of my dad and I, joking that he was sleeping with me or sex trafficking me. I went up last and bombed in front of everyone. Needless to say, I was hooked.

However, I decided to put off following my comedy dreams until finishing college. School was going smoothly until summer after my sophomore year, I had a terrible experience working in a lab where a professor left me on the side of the highway in New Jersey. So if science wasn't treating me right, I decided it was time to ditch it (much like I had been ditched on the side of the highway) to start pursuing comedy and the last 4 years have been wonderful!

I know that you love science more than you could ever love a woman. Is your approach to comedy influenced in any way by your approach to science?

First of all you clearly have no idea how voluptuous a microscope can be. When writing, I try to put a lot of research behind my bits and learn everything that I can on a subject before tackling it. But it can be hard to find a balance between facts and funny especially because most audiences don't come out to a comedy show to hear someone sounding like they're reading from a textbook.

You are one of the hardest working comics I know, which is usually what people say when they don't think someone is funny. Where does that work ethic come from?

Thank you, I think my work ethic comes from the fact that I'm not funny. In school I would relentlessly pursue good grades in order to win my parent's approval, but now I'm just working hard for laughter, which is to some extent the audience's form of approval. If you're laughing at me, you are now my parents.

Your mom is a film scholar. How has that informed how you view entertainment and perform comedy?

It made me a more deeply analytical person, which has ruined my ability to enjoy movies. I wish I could be a simple man like you and enjoy the films you show me like Terminator 6 and American Pie 5. I would much rather have a movie between the 3rd and 4th American Pie, it would be American Pi 3.14 . My mom showing me classic cinema has definitely given me an appreciation for the art, an eye for aesthetics, and a sense of how to make a compelling story, which are skills that I have yet to apply to stand up. Also, I think that having a tolerance for older films that most people might say are slow and boring have prepared me to sit through other things that are slow and boring, like all of your sets.

Your parents made you drink two glasses of milk every day until you were 18-years-old. That has nothing to do with my question. I just want people to know that about you. Who were some of your favorite comedians growing up and when you were starting comedy?

I think my taste in comedy has changed from the drinking milk period of my life to the after milk period. In the D.M. I only really knew of Seinfeld, Rock, and Carlin. But in the A.M. I learned about so many others (too many to name, but just to mention a few) like Maria Bamford, Demetri Martin, Jessica Kirson, Big Jay Oakerson, Greer Barnes.

Your stand up material is mostly observational and not particularly offensive. Yet you are a great roaster and you are friends with me. What childhood trauma do you tap into when preparing for roasts that helps you do so well? And will you turn your back on me when I one day get cancelled?

I don't think that I tap into my childhood trauma at all when roasting, that seems counterproductive because I do comedy to avoid dealing with it. But I just enjoy the form of roasting and I think my science background has helped me deeply research my opponents. Every fact is a good set up. So the more facts you have about someone, the better you can roast them. (Has roasting ever been described in a nerdier way?) But yeah, knowledge is power. And that knowledge will come in handy when I turn my back on you because I will have the most intimate details with which to cancel you. I wasn't being your friend, I was gathering evidence.

Matt’s responses to Ben’s questions:

Something people don't know about you is that you majored in history (mostly because they don't pay attention to your act). How has your history background informed your comedy?

It has helped a lot because, like comedy, studying history is a terrible way to try and make money

I think studying history has helped me look at things more objectively and with more context. It expanded the way I think which is always good for comedy. I generally don’t get overemotional about things because even when there are terrible things that I am living through, I understand they have happened in some way before. In comedy, when I get too emotional about things, I can tend to try and make points instead of making jokes. And I’ve mostly been able to not let emotion cloud my judgment due to my studying of history and my mild autism 

You have run a very successful roast show for the past 5 years, do you ever worry about being pigeonholed as the 'roast guy' ?

At first I was very resistant to it. I was a stand up for years before ever doing a roast, and even now, most of the time I’m on stage, it’s doing stand up. But most people get pigeonholed. Whether it’s being the puppets guy, the food guy, the woke girl, alt right guy, black guy, Indian girl, lesbian girl, political comic, fat guy, or Trevor Noah being the unfunny guy. I’d rather be a something than a nothing. And I love roasting, so I’ll take being the roast guy 

We recently moved in together, what is my worst quality as a roommate?

You love saying puns all the time and it’s infuriating

Also I don’t feel like you take NHL 21 for PS4 as seriously as you should. You just sit there, making your jokes, while I’m trying to help the Islanders win their first Stanley Cup in 35 years. It’s not funny

Your roast show, Comedy Fight Club, is now moving off the GAS Digital Network, how do you feel about the future of the show?

I’m excited. We started the show in a basement with no recording or social media. Then we started streaming and posting on Periscope, Twitter, and Instagram. Fighters from CFC began taking over at the bigger roast shows. We were gaining traction. GAS Digital took us to another level. And now that we have a larger audience and more experience with audio, visual, social media, production, etc. we can do it on our own and control everything. At this point, we are THE roast show. Comedians have always loved the show and been really supportive. It’s been a great thing for the comedy community for years and especially during the pandemic. CFC is the best show that’s still happening during this Prohibition era of comedy and I’m hopeful comics and non-comics will continue to support the show… (very contrived sales pitch coming)… and if you want to support too, watch our live streams every Thursday night at 10PM on Youtube and subscribe to our Patreon page https://www.patreon.com/comedyfightclub

Now that you've told me about my worst quality as a roommate, can you describe how you typically wash dishes and why this normally leaves behind some food residue?

I actually think this is an inappropriate personal question and I am not going to answer it

When we first met 3 years ago, I approached you at CFC and asked if I could roast a planet and you said no. Could you in front of the good people at CNL officially apologize and provide a timeline for when I can roast the planets? 

The only planet you can roast is Uranus! Lol. Got his ass

It was a strange idea, but we do plenty of strange stuff at CFC. I had never met you before and I didn’t have a clear vision for how it would work at the time. So I think I said something along the lines of “yeah maybe we can try that at some point” because I am a nice person!

In conclusion, I will not apologize you fucking nerd!