Best of ND 2013: The Nintendojo Interview: Brian Gaar

The stand-up comedian reveals why Street Fighter IV isn’t realistic and what video games inspire him.

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 12/25/2013 17:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

This story was selected as one of our best from 2013. It was originally published on July 16, during Issue 162.

Brian Gaar loves video games. A local comedian in the Austin, Texas scene, Gaar has made a huge splash on Twitter thanks, in part, to a number of tweets and jokes about video games. I was lucky enough to chat with him about some of his favorite games and the challenges of video game related humor.

Nintendojo: How did you get your start doing standup? It seems like you stay fairly close to the local comedy scene in Austin, but you’ve quickly amassed a really large Twitter following (nearly 35,000 followers as of this writing).

Brian Gaar: I first got on stage about 10 years ago. At the time I was living in Waco, Texas, and my first few sets were just opening for friends’ bands. The first time went great, the second time I bombed and the third time I got heckled so badly that my sister started yelling at the heckler. That makes you feel great.

But there’s not really a comedy scene in Waco, so that was short-lived. I moved to Austin and started doing standup more seriously– and by that I mean going to open mics every week– in 2008. There is a fantastic comedy scene here, we have a ton of comics who have been on TV and a lot more really creative people who haven’t (but should). I probably wouldn’t be doing comedy right now if it wasn’t for Austin.

I’ve mostly done standup in Texas but I’m trying to travel more– I went to LA last fall and did a festival in North Carolina a few years ago. I’m also going to the East Coast next month. So I’m gradually branching out, but yeah, I mostly perform around Austin.

As for Twitter, it’s been an interesting journey. I didn’t tweet a lot until about two years ago, when I tweeted a joke: “If two people are arguing and one person says, ‘You know what..’ that argument is about to get awesome.”

That tweet kinda took off and that was my first experience of thinking, “Oh wow, there’s a larger world out there.” Since then, I’ve devoted an unhealthy amount of my time to tweeting jokes.

Through Twitter I’ve also met a lot of funny people, which has been awesome. There are SO many talented people out there. And since nobody’s getting paid (at least that I know of), there’s a lot of freedom to do whatever you want. And it’s cool watching people experiment with different styles of writing, I really think we’re watching a new style of humor being born.

ND: Where did the video game humor start to come in? Was that a part of your act before Twitter?

BG: I’ve been playing video games since my parents bought an Intellivision in the early 80s. Then when the original Nintendo came out, my grandmother bought me a system in Louisiana because they were allegedly sold out in Texas. It came with Super Mario Bros. and I returned all my other gifts so I could buy Legend of Zelda. To this day, it was the best Christmas ever– I think I stayed up all night playing. Strike that, I know I did.

This was still in the era of arcades, too, so we’d hang out all weekend playing Street Fighter and renting games and playing them at friends’ houses. I still remember everyone going insane when Super Mario Bros. 3 came out because of the flying raccoon suit. I also remember renting T&C Surf Designs and feeling ripped off. God that was a terrible game.

I played the original Mega Man recently and it felt like walking around my old neighborhood (which is probably accurate, since I never left the house as a child).

And I’d still put a lot of those games up against any of the stuff out today. I don’t think I’ve ever played a better game than the original Metroid.

As I got older, I just never stopped playing. And since my comedy is mostly talking about my own life, video games just naturally leaked into my act. One of my favorite jokes ever was a bit about how Street Fighter IV isn’t realistic. And I talk a lot nowadays about being an older guy who still plays stuff like Pokémon (which I love and can’t wait for X & Y).

I don’t have as much time for games as I used to, especially with a 5-month-old child. So my 3DS XL is getting a lot more use– it’s got a ton of good games and is great for neglecting your family. I’m kidding, I let my daughter watch while I play (she’s still pretty terrible).


ND: I think anyone that’s ever worked in an office building can vouch for the authenticity of that Street Fighter IV bit. I’ve literally seen my work shutdown over people bringing their dogs in.

You mentioned Pokémon, which seems to get a heavy focus in your tweets. A lot of comedians say they alter their material on-the-fly based on the audience. Is it easier to pull off video game humor online as opposed to on-stage? I can’t imagine seeing an audience and thinking “oh, these people totally know you shouldn’t teach HM01 to a legendary Pokémon.”

BG: It’s definitely easier online. Even that Street Fighter bit is touch-and-go on stage because a lot of people don’t know what I’m talking about.

But you can get as obscure as you want on Twitter, especially with video games. Like that Pokémon tweet– you need to have played Pokémon to understand that joke. And some people will like it and others won’t know what the hell I’m talking about. I’ve never said the word “Pokémon” on stage but I talk about it all the time on Twitter.

That said, I try to mix it up on Twitter. If I did nothing but video game tweets, it would get old. But it’s not like a standup performance, where you want everything to kill. You can throw stuff out there and see what sticks.

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