The Greg Robillard Interview

Today I chat with a humorist and longtime web-friend of mine who has just released his first book, Captain Freedom: A Superhero's Quest for Truth, Justice, and the Celebrity He So Richly Deserves. His work has appeared on National Public Radio, in McSweeney's, Lynx Eye, and Cracked Magazine. He has also contributed to CCInsider, the political campaign at Indecision2008 and also blogs about overpriced kids' gear in You can catch more of his writing at his site All Day Coffee.

Now that your book is out, have you been checking your Amazon rankings obsessively?
I have not. But I have been scanning Google Analytics for both All Day Coffee and each and every day, mostly so that I can mercilessly cut the underperformers from my blogroll, so "," you better shape up.

How did you decide to portray Captain Freedom?

The model I was using was of any public figure who lives surrounded by a protective bubble of his own self-importance - a little Giuliani, a little Bush and a healthy dash of Tom Cruise.

What inspired the book?
If there was any one event it was the gubernatorial election of the Last Action Hero in California. I wanted a superhero who would stop saving people and become a politician, but then I had to chart a path for him to get there.

What's in a Hungry Artist Roll-Up?

It's like any other typical sandwich, except it's mass produced by a chain gang of starving artists from around the Seattle area. Try to avoid the ones made by sculptors - there's always a little too much granite dust for my taste.

If the book were made into a movie, who could you see playing the hero?
I'm stuck between Bruce Campbell and Owen Wilson. So evil geneticists, should you succeed at creating a freakish combination of the two, hit me up.

Who are some of your favorite superheroes?

Wolverine and Daredevil. Brock Sampson. Also Scott Pilgrim, the star of a graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O'Malley which everyone should read before The Suits ruin it with a Michael Cera movie.

I read in an interview that you needed to "spice up the manuscript with more pop culture references"--what are some examples? Was this a difficult task?
It's really easy - there's in fact an entire section of the new edition of Strunk and White which lays out what is an appropriate pop culture reference. My editor and I kicked around a lot of ideas, and he had suggested adding more references to sports, which was hard because the only sport I religiously follow is baseball. We also talked about adding something about Harry Potter, but I thought come on, hasn't that Potter kid been through enough? I much preferred my geeky Slashdot-style references that I had to fight to keep in, like a joke about the C programming language. Which trust me, is hysterical.

Based on your work at Comedy Central's websites, were you privy to up and coming comics/humorists that most people didn't know yet? Who would you recommend people check out?
One thing I noticed working for CC Insider was that the comedy scene is insular enough that everyone seems to have known all the "up and comings' for ever, but when you speak to a civilian about any of those people you might as well be talking about your favorite Danish prog rock group.

I was lucky enough to cover a standup show featuring Eugene Mirman and his act is great. He includes a lot of goofy mixed media, like printouts of fake web banner ads that half the audience couldn't possibly see but he somehow makes it work. And like everyone else I'm rooting for comic musician Bo Burnham to dethrone Michael Cera as the Awkward It Boy.

It might appear that I have a thing against Michael Cera but it's really that he's allegedly preventing an Arrested Development movie from being made.

After blogging CC's Indecision 2008, are you taking a break from politics or are you still following them closely?

I'd always been a political junkie so the gig felt like an old pair of shoes - warm and familiar, probably because I'd already urinated on them. I still spend a lot of time following politics but now I have a chance to read a little more closely, rather than looking for a specific joke. I was sad to miss out on the coverage of Rod Blagojevich,who, when I think about it, might make a great Captain Freedom.

You write for do you know when you've got something kid-related that would make for a good piece and when should you keep it private?
Fortunately for me I only cover the kid tech beat, so I write about whether you need the new $1000 stroller (answer: never). I almost never write about my own family.

How did you come up with the name All Day Coffee for your site?
The name is from a quaint little hostel on a beach in Costa Rica - the only thing this $4/night flophouse better than all the other $4/night motels (aside from cooler bugs) was the words "all day coffee" scrawled in English on a white board.

How does it feel to be the 226th person interviewed for
You ever notice that any single number, if taken out of context, magically makes you think there's something significant about it? I'll try this one: three hundred forty-seven. It's a prime number. But you look at it and think there must be something important about it, other than that the third digit is the sum of the first two. And it's also a highway where the mall was where I grew up. But 226? Congratulations - I hope somebody makes you a commemorative Hummel figurine. Of me.