This interview appears in ALARM #40. Subscribe here to get your copy!
Editor’s note: Since this interview was conducted, IFC canceled Bunk.
Kurt Braunohler looks like the enthusiastic dad next door teetering on the edge of sanity. And it’s all intentional — he wants to creep you out. His is the deranged humor reminiscent of long-time comedy partner Kristen Schaal, and in a blink, normalcy segues to unhinged comic surprises.
This summer, Braunohler launched an anti-game show on IFC called Bunk, where fellow comedians compete in inane challenges to win…nothing, essentially. But with categories such as “Shame That Puppy,” “Lie to a Child,” “Dong Swap,” and “Who Can Slap Gabe the Hardest?” you’ll wish that you could compete for an alien probing too.
Are all of your comedy friends buttering you up to get on Bunk?
I think comedy people butter up by silently resenting. Just kidding. Everyone that I’ve talked to has been a big fan of the show, other than Internet commenters who really don’t like it. But they don’t seem to like anything.
Do you have a dream guest?
Let’s say you run into him. What’s your elevator pitch?
“Please do my show.” And then I start crying.
How much of the show is improv versus scripted?
It’s almost entirely improvised.
What do people win?
You can win anything from being probed by an alien to dental work to being awarded a birthday. Eugene Mirman won his own perfume essence called Eugene.
What kind of persona recalibration takes place when you transition from standup comedian to game-show host?
I like being creepy and dark when hosting Bunk. I like the idea of exploitation of power that I think a lot of game-show hosts probably have. They have a similar celebrity of politicians or actors. But really, they’re hosting a game that adults play. It’s this thing that should be least celebrated, yet these people are totally famous.
Tell me more about this creepy stage persona. Is there anyone from real life you try to channel?
Oh no, it’s me. I’m actually just channeling me.
Following your partnership with Kristen Schaal, have you developed any new comedy crushes?
Brad Neely. I once hung out with Brad at the Magic Castle in LA, and I had such a comedy crush on him that I tried to impress him by doing a “magic trick” where I swallowed a quarter. Everyone was just creeped out and thought I was a weirdo.
You actually swallowed the quarter?
Yeah, I did. I was like, “Here it goes!” And I threw it in my mouth. They clapped, and I was like, “Where’d it go?” And they were like, “Did you just swallow that, you fucking weirdo?”