The Revelations of John: Comedian John Hodgman Figures out What to Do with Himself

Humorist, satirist, and former physical embodiment of the PC to Justin Long's Mac, John Hodgman is going through a life change. Hodgman, known from his work as the Resident Expert on The Daily Show and as an author — he wrote a trilogy of Complete World Knowledge, The Areas of My Expertise, More Information Than You Require, and That is All — originally branded himself the quintessential expert on nonsense. But now he's turning toward a more honest, straightforward brand of comedy.

His latest special, Ragnarok, is a Netflix original and features Hodgman, shoeless, lamenting the fact that they must have sold all the computers (why else would they have stopped asking him to make the commercials?) and revealing that he is a real human, named John Hodgman, who can't help but enjoy a little Ayn Rand cosplay now and then.

SF Weekly: What's this show going to be like, how would you describe it?

Location Info


Palace of Fine Arts

3301 Lyon
San Francisco, CA 94123

Category: Performing Arts Venues

Region: Marina/ Cow Hollow


John Hodgman at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, at The Palace of Fine Arts, 3601 Lyon St., S.F. Tickets are $44.50.

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John Hodgman: The show is called "John Hodgman Stars as the Famous American Humorist John Hodgman In: John Hodgman Lives." The show I have put together over a year of performing my imitation of stand-up comedy, in secret in New York and in public for the rest of the country, in which I attempt to come to terms with the fact that the world did not end on Dec. 21, 2012, as I had a) predicted; b) expected; and c) secretly hoped for, and how I am choosing to fill up the rest of the time that remains to me and us. And one of the things that happened when the world did not end, I realized I needed to start from scratch. I was not writing any more books. I had no material to draw on ... for any other projects. And so I started scaring myself into creating new material by doing it on stage. Consequently, the stuff that I've been talking about is a lot less artificial and a lot more personal. It's not John Hodgman the Resident Expert, it's not John Hodgman the Deranged Millionaire; it's John Hodgman the Regular Person. And, I dare say, a very talented John Hodgman impersonator.

Will you be wearing shoes?

That's a very good question. I will not be wearing shoes, I can promise San Francisco that. And it's about 50/50 whether or not I will have taken my socks off on stage. That has to do to some degree with the temperature of the theater. You know, I don't like to be chilly. And then also, in the previous show where I took my socks off, I was wearing a tuxedo. And that is a nice contrast. But for this show, I'll be wearing blue jeans. And blue jeans without socks just makes you look like a prosperous hippie. And that's not what I want.

Even in San Francisco?

Yes, you don't need another prosperous hippie in San Francisco.

Will the show be a good place to take a first date?

Yes. I think it would be a nice place to go on a first date, because it seems like a beautiful location. You will hear not only me, but also the amazing comedian Scott Simpson, who will open the show. And then, I think that if you were taking a first date to a previous John Hodgman show, you might be accused of being a nerd who only likes fake facts about hobos. But this is a much more straightforward and open-hearted comedy show, for good or ill, in which I talk about the strange life that I happen to have led for the past several years, since I became an accidental minor television personality. But I am also just a regular human who is married and has two human children. And I will talk about those children for the first time ever in public, though in order to protect their privacy I will pretend that I am talking about my cats. And there will be some singing and ukelele music involved. Ukelele is the music of love. Even if it is me dressed as Ayn Rand in 1980 playing the ukelele. Perhaps the most anti-romantic thing you can imagine, even still the ukelele spins a tune of seduction.

You mention in your latest special that you get upset that people no longer recognize you from your role in the Mac commercials.

I've learned to accept that life goes on. And the world doesn't end, even when you hope that it will because your career is coming to a turning point. The reality is that whether it is the end of a commercial campaign that utterly transformed my life and that I enjoyed and loved very much, or whether it's the end of a job or someone in your life dying or someone in your life being born, there are all kinds of little Ragnaroks that force us to start all over again. And that is something that I am willing to accept now. That the world does not end at my command.

Which are you finding you prefer, performing in character or as yourself?

The character was always me. That's why he was always named John Hodgman. Whether he was the Resident Expert, or the Deranged Millionaire, it was always a heightened exaggerated version of me at my best or my worst. It was always me, and I think that in part this new material I've been working on, which is the first time I've ever written specifically to perform material, as opposed to writing something for a book and then adapting it for the stage, is really about as bare as I can be. There actually is a person named John Hodgman, and I am actually this crazy. And in many ways I bare myself, and I'm as nude as I've ever been on stage, which is to say I'm wearing shirts and pants. But no jacket, you know what I mean?

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