Fans of the Fox show "Bob's Burgers" will likely recognize comedian Dan Mintz as the voice of the gawky, butt-and-zombie-obsessed teen, Tina Belcher. This, mainly, because he doesn't change his voice at all to give life to the "Best Character on TV" (according to Entertainment Weekly readers).
Mintz has also been doing a very unique style of stand-up comedy for 15 years, and he has just released his first comedy album, called The Stranger, taped live at Comedy Works in Denver.
He walks out on stage without addressing the audience, uncomfortably grasps the mic and delivers deadpan one-liners without moving, laughing or even smiling. It's hardly the self-confident, boisterous comedic delivery one might expect from a stand-up act.
RELATED: Read Dan Mintz's Reddit AMA
Mintz stopped by The Frame studio to talk about working through his natural stage fright, how he became Tina and why he feels lucky to have stand-up comedy as an outlet.
On his deadpan, un-emotional stage presence:
I'm not a natural performer, I have a natural stage fright. I was never planning to stay like that. When I started, I thought I would gradually build confidence and become a more normal comedian, but it actually worked and it just fit a character that seemed to work with the jokes I wanted to tell, so I just didn't try to become confident or comfortable.
On whether his nervous stage presence has become an act:
It's hard to say. It's not really myself the way I normally am, but it is kind of just the way that I am in front of people when I have that anxiety. I guess it did become more of a character. I didn't consciously think about it. Things that make people laugh you subconsciously do more of, and things that don't you do less of, and it just gradually evolved.
On why he chose to do comedy despite his natural stage fright:
I almost think that's why I enjoy it, it's like going on a roller coaster — it's fun because it's terrifying. Growing up I didn't really watch a lot of standup. I didn't know you could be a low-energy comedian. It was something I did daydream about, but in the way you daydream about becoming the President or something — it could never happen. I was in a comedy club with my dad when we were back in New York and we saw this guy, Mitch Fatel, who is low energy comic like Steven Wright, who I didn't know about then. He just killed and was so funny and I was like, Oh, I can do this.
On whether his jokes focus on certain themes:
They kind of don't because the way that I think of jokes [is] I kind of start with a concept and work backwards...Over the course of the album I'll be a clueless guy who can't get laid, then I'll be a guy with a girlfriend that doesn't know how to be romantic, then a guy who is married with kids. I just kind of think of it more as like a collection of short stories where the reality doesn't carry over from one joke to the next.
On walking the line between being funny and offensive:
I don't have a philosophical principle of what you should say. I'm kind of a Libertarian about that. It's more just a practical thing of what will people laugh at or what will be too uncomfortable to laugh at. It's kind of like spicy food in a way. Being offended is in itself an unpleasant sensation, just like pain in your mouth is an unpleasant sensation, but if you have the right amount with the right amount of food, it actually makes the food taste good. So if you have just the right combination, people will laugh despite feeling like it's wrong. But if you have too much, they'll just kind of be bummed out.
On how the "Bob's Burgers" character, Tina, was originally a boy:
I was supposed to play one of the two sons of the family, Gene and Louise's brother. They got this note from Fox that the character was too similar to Gene, so their solution was to change it to a girl. I remember getting this call from Loren [Bouchard], who is the creator. I didn't answer it. He never calls me, it's always my agent or his assistant. This probably means he's calling to say I'm being re-cast. Finally I call back and he said, 'We're changing your character to a girl, but we want you to play it." I was like, "Well I can't do a girl's voice, really." He said, "Oh, it's OK, just do your own voice." I was very skeptical that would work, but then they sent me the actual Tina being animated with the voice...and I was like, Oh, wow, this actually works."
I forget which episode it was, but Loren said we want to try to come up with a sound that Tina makes when she's nervous. Since then I've noticed that I do it myself when I'm driving, and I don't know if I always did it and that why I brought it to Tina, or I started doing it because of Tina.
On his first time doing standup:
It took me about a year to actually do it and I made the mistake of running [my routine] by a friend and he just looked really confused. I was like, Oh no, what am I getting myself into? But then I went [to the club] and I've never been more nervous in my life. They just kept putting people up before me and I just kept waiting and waiting. I think I was the last of the night. Then I went out and I said this is my first time doing standup and people were supportive because of that. It actually went really well. That's when I realized that being nervous and uncomfortable on stage could actually suit me.
On the difference between writing for someone else and writing for himself:
You definitely have to write, whatever show you're writing on, in their voice. It's much harder....Well, it's harder in a way and it's easier in a way. It's easier because, when you're writing for yourself, you have to worry, [thinking] I'm going to actually say these things and people are going to judge me on it. When you're writing for a boss, you're like, I'll just give you 20 things and you can decide what you like or not.
It is a little bit demoralizing to work a show and you just try so many times to get something and the creator just keeps saying, "No, not that." Then they just instantly come up with something. It feels so great when you write for yourself because it is your own voice. I feel bad for people who are just TV writers and don't have that [freedom]. I don't feel that bad for them because it's a good job. But if they don't have the outlet of standup ... it's nice to remember that you do have your own voice.