With Bob’s Burgers as one of the centerpieces of our ANIMATION theme this month, we’re more psyched than ever for the eighth season coming this fall! We recently spoke with Eugene Mirman, actor who voices Belcher son Gene on the show, about Bob’s Burgers, his comedy projects, superhero faves and more…
Hi Eugene! To start, can you give us some background on how you came to be involved with Bob’s Burgers?
Loren Bouchard, who created Bob’s Burgers, cast the main family and then developed each character partially around each person he cast. I met Loren in the late 90s in Cambridge, MA when he worked on Dr. Katz. He would often come to the Comedy Studio, which was the comedy club on the third floor of the Hong Kong restaurant I was a regular at. It’s where he met Brendon Small, who was my roommate at the time, and they made Home Movies together.
The show’s been on for seven seasons now, do you have a favorite episode? Also, maybe not within the show itself, but a favorite moment from you involvement with the show?
One of my favorite moments is when Louise is in the bathroom with Gene and turns him into Travel Size Bob. I forget exactly how the scene was written, but we all ended improvising a lot of it, and I love how it came out.
How much of Gene’s personality and your approach to the role come from your own teen experiences? Or did the creators have something more specific in mind?
I think a moderate amount of Gene’s personality comes from my personality, but not really from my experiences as a kid. Gene is probably what I’d be like if I was made a kid now, more than how I was as a kid.
I don’t really think of them as being opposite. In both instances you’re trying to connect with an emotion and a joke — you’re performing what’s written (in one instance by me, in another by writers) while also trying to think if there’s a funnier line or place to go. I think of them as different types of performances along a similar continuum. Though obviously with standup, you’re in front of a live audience where you can fail at any time, and with voice-over, you have as many chances to try something as you like work.
Besides getting to wear whatever you want to work (obviously!), what do you love about voice over work vs. on-camera roles?
Well, I still have to get to the recording studio, so I rarely wear a robe or a cape. I sometimes bring a sword, since a person dressed in business-casual attire with a sword still looks professional. One thing I love about voice-over is that you can jump in with whatever ideas you have and record anything you want. You can take as many risks as you like, because in the end it’s all edited down. So you feel free to try random jokes that may or may not work without affecting an entire take, like you would with live action.
What do you think it is about the style and tone of Bob’s Burgers that connects with fans, and makes it unique?
I think all the characters have a sincerity and a silliness that resonates. You can tell they really love each other, but they’re also all their own weirdos. It makes the family warm, and odd in a genuine way, like most families really are.
Each of the principals on Bob’s Burgers are performers with such strong personas. Is it a pretty collaborative process to bring stuff to the table for your characters?
When we record we get to do the scenes all together first as written, but we also get to improvise lines if we want. The writers are also pitching new jokes and lines as we’re recording. The final result is a pretty organic sounding, very collaborative recording that’s edited down from all the different takes.
Which character (other than Gene!) is your favorite on the show, and why?
I don’t know. It’s such an ensemble that I can pick one and then right away think I should have picked someone else. I love Tina and Louise and Bob and Linda. In terms of non-family members, Logan, played by Kurt Braunohler, is wonderful. I love Mr. Fischoeder and Teddy.
You released a 7-LP (!!) project, I’m Sorry (You’re Welcome) a couple of years back, which is quite a feat. How did you approach something that daunting?
I worked on it slowly for many years with two friends, Matt Savage and Christian Cundari. We recorded it in Boston. I’d basically come to town and we’d spend a few days recording and editing and working on it.
If Gene Belcher released a 7-LP project, how do you think he’d break that down? (Bearing in mind, LP #1 is probably “FartMusik™”…)
It’d definitely have a few volumes of musical numbers, probably one fart-based and one about love. He’d probably make a volume of ring tones like I did, though there’d probably be more songs. I think he’d maybe do a full length version of “Work Hard Or Die Trying Girl” and there’s a chance there’d be an A-Team / Family Ties/ The Last Starfighter mashup. I wanted to make a volume of jokes for animals, partially in their imagined language, but never could figure out exactly what it’d consist of, but I bet Gene could get to the bottom of it and make it work.
You actually get Loot Crates, which is very cool! What’s your favorite item you’ve gotten since you’ve been getting them?
I’ve gotten a lot of stuff I really enjoy. I wear all the t-shirts all the time. I love them. I have a Batman mug where the bat-signal becomes visible when it gets hot that is a household favorite.
Our theme this month is Animation; what are your favorite cartoons from childhood, or other ones that are on now that you enjoy?
I loved Super Friends and Force Five as a kid. And like the Justice League cartoons from the 2000s and a lot of the modern animated DC movies. I loved The Simpsons growing up. There’s probably lots of movies too, like Iron Giant or Ratatouille.
If you could design any Loot Crate theme – seriously, anything at all – what would you choose?
Maybe it would just be superhero-related grilling supplies, like a Green Lantern themed green egg grill and a Daredevil cast iron oyster pan. Those are probably too big. So maybe just a box full of real money in a Batman-themed trash bag? That’s probably not profitable to mail out to people.
Lastly, this is a deep dive! – way back in the day you had a Flash animation on your website of a picture of yourself as a child singing along with rock songs. How much would we have to cajole you to bring that back? Because it was the funniest. thing. EVER.
Thank you! I think I still have the files somewhere and am periodically asked to bring it back, so it isn’t impossible.