From Vanity Fair
January 6, 2011
By Eric Spitznagel
“I don’t think a reporter should give advice or make predictions,” warned the late ABC news anchor Peter Jennings (or so says the Internet). But as the 80s kinda-band Timbuk3 once pointed out, “The future’s so bright, I’ve got to wear shades.” You see the dilemma, right? It takes a bold and journalistically irresponsible person to pose as a soothsayer, pretending to have any idea whatsoever what lies ahead. But the public goes crazy for that shit. Tell them with authority just how awesome and/or apocalyptic the coming year will be and they’ll be eating out of your hand. That’s why Nostradamus gets his own iPhone App and a new documentary on the History channel every week, and Peter Jennings only gets mentioned during Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
I asked Eugene Mirman to give me his prognostications for 2011. Why him? First and foremost, because he was available.
Also, he has something to promote—a new cartoon called Bob’s Burgers, which premieres on the Fox network this Sunday, January 9, at 8:30pm ET. It’s about a family that runs a struggling seaside burger joint, and Mirman is the voice for one of the precocious kids. Whatever, it’s not important. What is important is that Mirman said yes, and his predictions should probably be taken as gospel. Why? Because he’s so hip that some of you don’t even know his name. He’s the guy you’ve seen but may not remember from shows like Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Flight of the Conchords, and Delocated, and the guy you’ll swear you’ve seen somewhere before if you’re hip enough to attend next weekend’s hipster comedy festival SF Sketchfest. He’s like the indie band Deerhunter. If you ask, “Who’s Deerhunter?,” then you’ve more or less admitted that your musical tastes don’t get much more musically adventurous than Lady Gaga. Eugene Mirman is like Deerhunter, only for comedy. And unlike Deerhunter, his albums won’t put you to sleep with their overrated droning. (Pick up a copy of Mirman’s God is a Twelve-Year-Old Boy With Asperger’s and tell me I’m wrong.) Also, on his Web site he sells a commemorative plate with an illustration of himself as a kid and the message “I’m gonna kick you so hard in the dick, you’re gonna cum fear.” Would Deerhunter do something that fantastically bizarre? Or Peter Jennings, for that matter? Nope.
Mirman responded to my questions by email; The first half while visiting his brother Ilya in Sudbury, Massachusetts, and the second half during a trip to the Dominican Republic with friends, where he stayed in a house that was previously owned by Elizabeth Taylor. (“That apparently speaks to the amount the economy has fallen, I am told.”) He composed his answers while sitting at a big, round wooden table in a gazebo living room looking onto a bay across from Sammy Sosa’s house. He used his MacBook Pro, although he would like it noted that the track pad was acting up and the mouse kept jumping around the screen, which made it difficult to type.
Eric Spitznagel: A lot of people think the world is ending in 2012. To be on the safe side, should we blow it out in 2011? Empty our bank accounts, have meaningless recreational sex, and check off everything on our respective bucket lists?
Eugene Mirman: Well, you should not do this because the world is ending in 2012. It is not. However, you should do this because you should live every day as if there are only about 200 or so days left to live—that’s the real recipe for happiness.
Lately I’ve seen a lot of billboards with the message “Save the Date! Return of Christ: May 21, 2011.” Is it worth saving the date just to be on the safe side? Or should we go ahead and make other plans?
I would make other plans. Even if He is coming, unlike Santa He probably won’t visit everyone’s house that day. He’ll just get here, go to the Apple Store, and probably visit cute shops and restaurants in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Only after that will He start smiting assholes. Plus, most likely He’ll start with the people committing crimes in his name (Kirk Cameron, etc).
Who’s more likely to start Armageddon this year: Muhammad, Jesus Christ, or a big asteroid?
First, thank you for leaving the Jews out of this end-of-times scenario. That is either very nice, or naïve. I think the end of the world will be suspiciously similar to the end of Ghostbusters, except where both sides envision a God that loves them, and to their surprise he comes to town and destroys them, until he is defeated by people who believe in some weird, made-up religion.
Between Jesus and Muhammad, which messiah has the most self-deprecating sense of humor?
Really? O.K., I guess that’s not surprising, but can you cite any specific examples to prove it?
No one tries to murder people who do a bad or mean-spirited job at drawing Jesus. A God that can handle unflattering illustrations of Himself is just a more easy-going God. That’s why Thor and Eric Clapton are so cool.
The year 2010 gave us WikiLeaks and BP oil well leaks. What will be leaking in 2011?
The year 2011 will see the rebirth of zeppelins and they will sadly leak, fall to the ground, and explode.
As we ended 2010, North and South Korea were being jerks to each other. Is this something we need to worry about in 2011, or can we go back to watching Dancing With the Stars?
This is not something we need to worry about. If they go to war, we will definitely first sell them arms and activate only a handful of our 28,000 troops stationed there. It will only be in 2012 that things will get potentially “super-annoying.” (I am quoting Communist Harry Reid.)
Who’ll winDancing With the Starsin 2011?
I read something about a possible H.I.V. cure in Germany. Could that be true? Should we actually trust the Germans on this?
Yes, I think so. If it were Italians or Russians, they could be exaggerating, but Germans are probably telling the truth. But—there is a 6 percent chance they’ve misinterpreted Ashton Kutcher’s Punk’d and made a prank TV show where German doctors trick the world scientific community into thinking there’s a cure for mankind’s currently most devastating virus.
How soon can we stop wearing condoms altogether?
I would wait one more hour from now, just to be safe.
If condoms are no longer necessary, how will we be able to tell when Julian Assange has raped somebody?
We would ask around.
Speaking of Assange, he claims to have “an encrypted poison pill of damaging secrets” that he’ll reveal when or if he’s ever killed. What sort of damaging secrets might he be talking about?
We’ll learn that [Vladimir] Putin has dug a tunnel to the center of the Earth and planted a bomb that he’ll detonate unless everyone in the West takes back the mean things they’ve said about Mother Russia over the last 80 years.
Since you brought it up, let’s talk about the future of Russia. You were born in the Soviet Union during the mid-70s, Cold War-style, and more recently you played a Russian assassin inDelocated, so I assume you know everything there is to know about Russia. Could it become a superpower again?
Any nation with nuclear weapons and a frustrated machismo can always become a superpower—that’s something I learned in junior high. Economically, could Russia? Well, they’d have to murder fewer (possibly none) of their own journalists and maybe smile more. The road to being a modern superpower in the Internet age is freedom of speech and a populace that’s comfortable with smiling.
We learned last year that there were still Russian spies, and some of them were hot redheads. Are there more spies like Anna Chapman in this country?
Yes. The very pretty lady on Mad Men is a spy. But hopefully, she’ll be forgiven.
Besides being a ginger and easy on the eyes, why do you suspect Christina Hendricks of espionage?
Well, mostly she fit your description of a spy. Also, she is well organized on the show.
What can every American citizen do to protect his or her country from attractive female Russian spies?
Pretty spies will sleep with plain-looking men if they believe it will lead to actionable government intelligence. That’s why it helps at a bar to drunkenly mumble about “all the nasty, nasty government shit” you know. After that, if a beautiful woman goes home with you, she is a spy.
Last year, some Russian academic named Igor Panarin predicted that the U.S. would crumble in 2010. Obviously that didn’t happen. How’d we beat the odds, and can we do it for another year?
I think it is unfair to base the odds solely on the predictions of one mistaken Russian academic. I think we continue exactly along the path of angry, nationally divided progress that we’ve always done so well.
Can’t all Russian academics be refuted simply by chanting “U.S.A., U.S.A.”?
That only disproves half of their claim. The second half needs to be refuted with a PowerPoint presentation with the world’s intelligentsia logged in online using GoToMeeting.
Economist Arthur Laffer thinks we’ll have an economic collapse and “double-dip”recession in 2011. Do you agree? Is it going to get worse before it gets better?
Hearing something like this makes me want to be an economist. That’s not true—it makes me want to guess about America’s economic future, so that at some point some economist is asked, “Comedian Eugene Mirman thinks there will be a double-dip recession in 2011.” I will say no to your question. The reason? If I’m right I will be more accurate than Arthur Laffer. If I’m wrong? Who cares, I’m a comedian.
We had a lot of contenders in 2010 for America’s most-feared arch-nemesis—Kim Jong Il, Hugo Chavez, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—but nobody’s really taken up the mantle of Osama bin Laden or Hitler. Who’s going to break out in 2011 and become the tyrannical villain superstar we all know he can be?
Kim Jong Il. He has the genuine eccentricity it takes to be a super-villain. Don’t get me wrong, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a dickhead, but he’s old-fashioned and pandering, with his anti-Semitic rants and whatnot. Anyone can terrify and kill their own people, but it takes someone like Kim Jong Il to do it in sunglasses while choreographing national dances.
The Civil War Sesquicentennial begins in 2011. Will the South rise again?
I don’t see a divide between North and South anymore. I do think in 2011 Southerners will stop calling it the “War Between States” or “The War of Northern Aggression” and start calling it “The Only Partially About Slavery War” or “The War of the North Was Morally Justified, but Is Super Condescending Still.”
Will we finally stop paying attention to Sarah Palin in 2011?
I doubt it. She will (sort of) run for president in 2012 and spend 2011 preparing—except unlike most people grooming themselves for this post, she has the unique problem of sounding like a renegade general in an 80s movie who lives in a submarine and wants to blow up the American government because it’s drifted too far from her misguided interpretation of something Thomas Jefferson said. Basically, she will be the villain in Bourne 7.
What about Christine O’Donnell? Will she stay in politics or go back to her first love, witchcraft?
I don’t know. I still feel bad about that story where they talked about her pubes. I wish her luck, but nothing election-related.
In 2010, Lady Gaga wore dresses made out of meat and metal, respectively. What unorthodox fabrics will she be using as clothes this year?
Hopefully a gown made from human embryos and donated skin from fans.
Let’s talk natural disasters. Last year was all about Caribbean earthquakes and Icelandic volcanoes with complicated names. How is the planet going to bitch slap humanity in 2011?
This year will see an entire city, probably in Bangladesh, fall into the ocean. The good news is in 40 years it will become a cool tourist attraction known as “Atlantis 2050.”
What about New York City? Even with all the T.S.A.-approved gropings at airports, isn’t it just a matter of time before terrorists make an example out of Gotham again?
Nope. Malls will become the new targets, especially that store Lids. Sorry, Lids.
In 2010, Faisal Shahzad embarrassed himself and terrorists everywhere by failing to detonate a car bomb in Times Square. Will somebody finally manage to blow up Times Square in 2011?
I don’t think so. I think anyone who really wants to attack America and New York will pick a better symbol. What kind of monsters would blow up the Today show, a Ferris wheel, and lots of musicals?
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed in 2010. Just how gay will the military be by this time next year?
According to Stanley Kubrick, we were supposed to have back-talking robots by 2001. Will robots finally start to rise up against their oppressors in 2011?
A little, but not really. Probably around 2015 there’ll be robots and automated machines that will be programmed to have a “personality,” which sadly means they’ll just act like grumpy waiters.
NASA’s New Horizons probe will be entering the orbit of Uranus in March. Will you tell us what this means to the future of space exploration while also making an immature “Uranus” joke?
It means NASA is finally spending the money it needs to go “Space-Anal.” Does that make sense?
Not really. Sorry.
Want to try again? You can do this.
Hopefully North Korea will have the money to demonstrate how virile they are as a nation by competitively sending a rocket filled with mayonnaise to crash land on Uranus. I hope that works for you.
To help illustrate your point, will you draw us a picture of Uranus?
I could draw something, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing anything that risked turning this otherwise wholesome interview into the fulfillment of a prurient fantasy for lecherous astronomers.