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John Lamb, Published November 27 2012

Comedian Posehn ready to light it up for Fargo date

FARGO – Some people just can’t win. In an effort to live healthier, comic Brian Posehn quit smoking marijuana more than a year ago.

“That was the first step,” says the comic recognized for his work on TV shows such as “Just Shoot Me” and “The Sarah Silverman Program.” “You do that, then you find fast food at 3 in the morning a lot less appetizing.”

The changes worked. He lost wait, gained energy and had friends and fans tell him he was “more in the moment.”

“I think my act is better now. It’s less auto-pilot. I don’t feel like I’m phoning it in like I used to,” he explains from his home in Encino, Calif.

Local fans can judge for themselves as the new and improved Posehn brings his Comedy Mutant Tour to the Fargo Theatre Friday night.

But some crowds haven’t taken kindly to the smoke-free funnyman.

Shortly after he quit blazing up, he performed at the Gathering of the Juggalos, a sort of Woodstock for fans of the face-painted, horror-themed hip-hop group, Insane Clown Posse. The stone-cold sober stand-up didn’t receive a warm welcome from the ICP fans.

“I mentioned I quit smoking pot and I got booed like they had a meeting. It felt pre-planned,” Posehn recalls of his early morning set. “That probably wasn’t the right way to open to people who are there to have a good time and doing whatever they want in their tents.

“I kind of learned from that and it wound up being a fun show.” He adds, “Would I do it again? No.”

A change in a comic’s life can be hard for some fans to accept.

“There’s always going to be certain people who define you or your act by one thing, and some potheads take that to another level,” says Fargo comic JD Provorse. “It’s like personal betrayal for them when you stop smoking, like you must have somehow given in to ‘The Man’ rather than just choosing to change your life. But those people aren’t genuine fans anyway, and if your act is good, the real fans will stick with you.”

“I think a comedian’s core audience will get over big lifestyle changes, so long as whatever they are talking about instead is funny,” says Provorse’s cohort in comedy, Adam Quesnell. He adds that Posehn has a lot of stoner fans but didn’t necessarily do a lot of marijuana jokes.

“The same stuff still makes me laugh,” Posehn says, adding that his material and delivery are the same, even if he’s not stoned. “Now my stories are a bit more personal. I talk about what it means to be a guy in his 40s but still act like a 15-year-old.”

A self-professed nerd, Posehn has developed a hardcore fan base at home – with his 3½-year-old son.

“Now I have an excuse to have action figures lying around the house,” he says laughing. “My wife or my mom will say I’m spoiling him. I’m doing the same thing I was before, but now someone is playing with these figures instead of them sitting in a box. I still go to the same toy stores and do the same thing.”

While he likes having a playmate, he’s careful to still be the adult.

“I’m also walking a line. I don’t want to create a total clone of myself. That never works,” he says.

The world of parenthood isn’t totally foreign to the 40-something who acts like a teen. He’s waiting to see if “Guys with Kids,” the NBC comedy he makes appearances in, is renewed for another season. In 2010 he even had a role in “The Suite Life on Deck,” a spin-off of the Disney series, “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.”

“I like money,” he says, laughing when asked why he took the role, but quickly adds that the script was fun and he wanted to do something different.

“I’ve been told before to take it down a notch, but I’ve never been told what I was told on the set of ‘Suite Life,’ which is, ‘Can you go bigger?’ I even had a director tell me, ‘Too big does not exist on this show. Go broad. Scream your lines if you want to,’” he says. “It’s kids’ television, so it’s a totally different kind of acting. It wound up being really fun.”

He doesn’t mind being typecast as the middle-aged goof with “menial jobs,” because it’s good work for a character actor and it’s not too different from who he really is, though fans may say his work as a comic, actor, comic book writer and heavy metal commentator is hardly meaningless.

He’s currently working on a full metal comedy album with fellow mosher Scott Ian from Anthrax that should be out in the summer. Ian played on both of Posehn’s albums, 2006’s “Live in: Nerd Rage” and 2010’s “Fart and Wiener Jokes.”

While the comic has shared stages with headbangers Mastodon and Red Fang, he doesn’t see a comedy/metal tour in the works.

“Not all of my fans are into metal,” he explains. “So I wouldn’t want to make some Elvis Costello guy who also likes me sit through the metal thing.”

But he is developing a new fan base with his young son.

“Yes, I do play Ozzy Osbourne for him in the car and school him, but at some point I’m going to let him get into whatever he wants to get into,” Posehn says. “Well, keeping a couple of things away.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533