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Originally published Monday, March 26, 2012 at 5:31 AM

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The Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival brings laughs to rock clubs

Rock clubs are the last place most people think of when they think of comedy. But funnyman Eugene Mirman ("Flight of the Concords," "Bob's Burgers") makes it work. He's bringing the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival to Seattle's Crocodile club and Neptune Theatre Thursday-Saturday, March 29-31.

Special to The Seattle Times

On The Internet

See Eugene Mirman here: http://www.eugenemirman.com or https://twitter.com/#!/EugeneMirman

Festival Preview

Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival

8 p.m. Thursday and 7 p.m. Saturday at The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., Seattle; $20 per night; 9 p.m. Friday and 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the Neptune Theatre, 1303 N.E. 45th St., Seattle; $19 per night (877-784-4849 or stgpresents.org).
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Rock clubs are the last place most people think of when they think of comedy. They're hot, sweaty, loud and usually cacophonous rooms that lack the intimacy demanded by stand-up.

Despite these limitations, alternative comedian Eugene Mirman has managed to find a way to make clubs work. He's opened for the Shins, Modest Mouse and Yo La Tengo, among others, and released albums on the rock label Sub Pop.

Mirman is poised to prove this mix can work for others this week with the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, which runs Thursday through Saturday at the Crocodile, in Belltown, and the Neptune Theatre (admittedly nicer than most rock venues), in the University District.

Mirman's absurdist, observational humor has gone over well with club audiences. He says the biggest challenge is being the opening act for the music.

"It is sort of harder than just doing stand up," he says in a phone interview. But "as long as it's not hot and it's seated," it's OK.

Mirman has found success both on stage and TV. He had a regular but small role on HBO's "Flight of the Conchords" before being cast as the voice of "Gene" on FOX's animated series "Bob's Burgers." He's currently finishing up a tour with musician Andrew Bird (who plays the Paramount April 9).

Mirman says his nontraditional approach came from the challenge of designing his own major in stand-up comedy at Hampshire College in Western Massachusetts.

"I had to do a one-hour stand-up act as my thesis, and then I had to sort of promote and produce it," Mirman says. "The sort of things I've done that seem unconventional are kind of what came out of going to a nontraditional school."

The Internet has been another factor.

"(In the past) you needed to be on 'The Tonight Show' and then everyone in America knew you because everyone in America watched it," he says. "At this point, literally people only at the edge of death watch 'The Tonight Show.' "

The Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival is spread out over three days. Thursday's "Invite Them Up" at the Crocodile is a variety show featuring stand-up and live sketches with host Bobby Tisdale, Ron Funches, Mirman and others.

The most audacious night is Friday's live version of the Internet radio show "Star Talk Live" at the Neptune Theatre. The show is a blend of book smarts and goofball comedy with host and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson discussing all things science and the cosmos, while panelists Paul F. Tompkins (of "Best Week Ever"), Kristen Schaal ("Flight of the Conchords," "30 Rock") and Mirman chime in.

Saturday's 7 p.m. "Talent Show" at the Crocodile is hosted by Elna Baker and Kevin Townley; "Pretty Good Friends" closes the festival at 9:30 p.m. Saturday with veteran comedian and actor Bobcat Goldthwait, Todd Barry, Schaal, Mirman and Kurt Braunohler.

Jeff Albertson: 206-464-2304 or jalbertson@seattletimes.com

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