The Gauntlet: 50 Questions with James Adomian




Shall we begin?

At your own peril.

So you have a show you’re developing?

Somebody reads the trades!

How would you rate it on a scale of 1 to The Big Bang Theory?

60 Minutes.

Has your opinion on kissing changed over your lifetime?

My views on kissing are evolving, yes. I used to favor a sharp tongue but now I’ve crossed the aisle over to the loose lips.

Who would you like to kiss without their consent?

Nobody, sorry, my rape fantasies involve me as the passive partner.

What are you cooking back there?

That’s burnt pizza crust in the bottom of the oven. Almost ready.

When would you use the phrase “My baby’s got sauce”?

Under duress.

What’s your favorite type of music invented by black people?

I am extremely racist.

What’s your favorite type of music invented by white people?

Hip-hop, R&B, rock & roll.

White people: Who needs them any more?

Get off of Tumblr before it’s too late.

Were you ever tempted to part your hair differently?

Get thee behind me, Satan!

Have you ever worn a unitard and for what?

A Freddie Mercury impression at UCB! Pictured here with Billy Joel (Michael Cassady), Cyndi Lauper (Andree Vermeulen), and Tom Waits (Scott Rodgers).

If you had a two-dollar bill what would you do with it? 

Keep it in my wallet as a sacred lucky charm for about a month, then spend it on booze.

Describe how you would build a house in six words.

I would need some building materials.

Describe six words or less.


What would you throw into the fireplace while no one’s looking?  

My NSA “political dissident” file! 

You casually mention The Beatles to someone and they say they don’t know who they are. How do you respond?

I take that as the signal to exchange the microfiche.

Thoughts on gay marriage?

Not thoughts so much as brute lust.

Thoughts on Ray marriage?

Hey now!

If Ray Charles were still alive, do you think he’d be married to all those Pepsi dancers by now?

That’s what heaven is for.

So this month’s theme on the site is “Fancy.” Mind if we dive into that?

Color me dapper.

What’s your favorite type of tuxedo to wear?

Cheap, used, vaudeville-esque.

Fuck Marry Kill: a monocle, a stack of $100 bills, elbow patches.

I would keep them all as lovers on the side.

How much money do you currently have on you?

Ten thousand Swiss francs — you know, swissin’-around money.

Can we have some?

Put this on red. Two spins. Walk out with what you get.

What’s the biggest room you’ve ever been in?


You’ve got a knack for celebrity impressions. Who’s your favorite?

Kathleen Turner.

Can you do an impression for us right now?

Mmm ... Slow down, champ. You just gonna run up the stairs like that on a Thursday? *Puff*

Seriously, can you record it on your phone and send us the file? We’ll put it right here.

Jesus now there’s homework. Attached.


We love the fact that you do a lot of characters — ever watch TBS?

Not since the days of NWA wrestling on the Superstation!


That last one was a trick question. And to clarify this is not a question. Don’t answer this one. Just listen for a sec.

Adversarial comedy journalism. Touché.


Which fictional character would you welcome into your home?



Which fictional character would you turn a hose on if you saw them anywhere near your home?



You do a great impression of Jesse Ventura, host of Conspiracy Theory. Are there any conspiracy theories that you believe in?

“Conspiracy theory” is an insulting and ignorant term.


Do you believe in aliens?

We are aliens.


Yo ... you smoke trees?

I puff on pines.


How many more answers do you have? 

Good thing you’re not on the top of the mountain with the Zen master.


Real quick: What’s your favorite state?



Any speed you want: What’s your favorite city?

Lancaster, California.


Complete the beef slogan: “Beef: ___ _____ ____ _____”

“Something else goes here.”


What’s the best and worst part of having a mustache?

The tickle.


What kind of person puts stickers all over their laptop? 

A hippie without a car.


What’s your favorite movie scene?

When the horse dies in The Neverending Story. It’s my yoga.


What do you think of the phrase “spoiler alert”? 

Buncha narcs.


Are you currently avoiding any spoilers?

No, I call them shortcuts.


What was the first CD you ever bought?

Jerky Boys 2.


What was the first Cranberries CD you ever bought? 

They offered a nice two-year certificate of deposit I jumped in on.


What’s your most recent regret?

All those murders. Well, most of them.


You just landed on the moon, what do you say? 



Describe a situation that ends with you spitting on someone.

Second base.


Who’s going to win it all this year?  

Entropy, known to us as Death.


Photography by Mandee Johnson and Rebecca Adler


READ MORE Gauntlet: 50 Questions:

The Gauntlet: 50 Questions With Cameron Esposito


In lieu of a real interview, we sent 50 questions to Cameron Esposito and told her to answer as many as she could and that regardless of how far she got, we'd publish all of them.


How old are you? 

Jesus minus 1. 


How old would you like to be? 

This is fine. At 25, you have hot boobs but not the best brain. At 45, your brain is great but your boobs have lived a bit. The thirties provide a nice brain/boob balance. 


What’s the coolest way to die? 

Trying to prevent your own death. At least you tried. 


What’s the hottest way to fry? 

Naked. Maybe with an apron. 


In a kooky comic-strip mashup, Cathy has joined forces with Calvin and/or Hobbes. What do they do? 

Calvin and Hobbes get out of there as soon as possible, probably on a sled. 


What’s the funniest type of porno? 

Lemme scroll through what I have open right now and get back to you ... 


If you had to direct a porno, who would you get to star in it? 

Linda Hamilton, Sigourney Weaver, Katee Sackhoff, and Milla Jovovich. And it wouldn’t be a porno, but just like a movie with cool punching. 


Fuck Marry Kill: Puff Daddy, Diddy, Sean Combs.

No, no, no. None of these. 


What’s your favorite Michelle Pfeiffer movie? 

I like everything Mekhi Phifer has done. He was great as the Catwoman. 


You’re a substitute teacher tasked with filling in at an inner city school. The kids just don’t want to learn and refuse to not be in gangs because they’re from the inner city. How do you inspirationally turn things around? 

I’m a nun on the run from some nightclub gangsters. I don’t get shot by the gangsters because of my nun pals and everything is resolved. Then, for some reason I can’t remember, I go teach music at this school where Lauryn Hill is a student. Really, though, why am I back with the nuns? Because I already got away from the gangsters and I’m a nightclub singer and it feels like a nightclub singer would only have to pretend to be a nun once per life. So I can’t understand how I’m at this school or anything. 


We hear you’re engaged. What’s it like to be loved? 



What’s keeping you from riding more horses? 

Stupid horses always wanna climb up a mountain and kind of dangle off the side being all, “My feet are steady. I’m a horse and I kick rocks around but I won’t fall,” even though they KNOW I am afraid of heights. “Let’s go through that meadow or open field of nothing,” I say, but the horses are like, “We only do what we want!”  


How do you think Snoop Dogg responds when you accidentally walk in on him while he’s watching CBS sitcoms? 

You asked this like you think he’d be embarrassed. Here’s the thing about Snoop: He doesn’t embarrass. He could have his entire peen accidentally hanging out of his pants while he meets your grandmother and the President and he’d be like, “No doubt.” 


What’s wrong with hippos? 

Too hungry. Don’t understand the concept of food. Those little white plastic balls won’t make you less hungry, hippos. 


What would your job be if you were in the Civil War? 

That one medic who is a woman dressed as a man so she can make it to the front lines. Lots of bone sawing. Decent fake mustache (for the time). 


Who’s famous these days? 

Zooey Deschanel? She definitely has a fuchsia coat. 


How would you advise someone on making it in Hollywood? 

Tons of plastic surgery. I’ve had A LOT of work done — started right when I was born — and look at me now! I’m a star! 


Please explain the Electoral College and if you can’t, please write how you think the Seinfeld theme song would look if it were transcribed into words. 

We vote and then they vote and it doesn’t have to be the same as our votes but it can be and de beepy beepy deepy dee boom da boom boom bee (bucka chicka bucka chicka). 


What about the theme to Curb Your Enthusiasm? 

It’s the same. 


What TV show do you watch in the dark? 

All, because I have standards. Close the blinds, too. 


What’s your favorite TV show... er? That is to say, who’s got a nice shower on TV? 

The ones on Game of Thrones. People look awesome. Those people are always getting clean! Oh, but like showers I would like to also be in? Orange is the New Black. With Piper. And Alex. Maybe two Alexes. 


What movie do you tell people you like, but you secretly hate? 

I’m not a liar, OK, Funny Or Die? 


What movie do you tell people you hate, but secrete only mildly dislike? 

Oh, I hate everything. 


How old were you when you attended your first Natalie Merchant concert? 

Lilith Fair 1999. I was 17. I ran toward the stage in a fit of tears when Sarah McLachlan appeared to sing “Adia.” 


How often do you play your Coldplay greatest hits CD? 

As often as Gwyneth does. 


Our theme for the month is “Exploration.” Cool if we dive into that? 

Wouldn’t recommend it. Too shallow. 


Would you say that Native Americans “had it coming?” Explain.  

No. But he had it coming, he had it coming, he only had himself to blame (pop, six, squish, uh uh, Cicero, Lipschitz). And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, please rent Chicago and get yourself some culture. Then move on to Cabaret. Can’t do it the other way around. You must build to perfection. 


What would you bring on a vacation to the moon? 

Liv Tyler, iPod, speakers, and a downloaded copy of I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing. (I know that was an asteroid, and that she stayed on Earth, but I just think she’d be up for the moon and, yeah, it is weird to make out while her dad sings, but that’s also the whole point of that movie so I don’t think she be that upset about it.) 


What’s the point of going on a hike? 

Acceptable to wear spandex! I do it for the spandex. 


“Take a hike”: That’s a funny phrase, right? 

Whoa, you’re good. How long you been doing it? Do you do road stuff or just in town? 


What were road trips with your family like as a kid? 

My older sister and I in the way back of our station wagon, counting the number of people behind us we could get to change lanes using rude gestures and confusing antics. And tons of barfing because we ate too much white-cheddar popcorn or the like. 


What’s it like being a mother, probably? 

Boring. Especially when babies are teeny. They don’t do anything. But also the best. Yeah, that’s right: I’m into it. 


What do you talk about when getting your hair cut? 

Radical queer activism and desert sweat lodges (I go to a very specific salon and I follow their conversational lead). 


What do you talk about at that awful moment when you’ve run out of things to talk about when getting your hair cut? 

I close my eyes and focus on sweating through my shirt due to silence-induced anxiety. 


How good are mandarin oranges? 

The canned ones will put you directly into a diabetic coma, and the fresh ones are too small and annoying a food for any adult. How do you have time to peel such small food? What are you, cracking your own almonds? 


Vladimir Putin: Guy’s a mess, right? 

Scariest shirtless guy out there. Anyone who believes gays are coming for their children scares the shit out of me. Gays are raising children — sometimes children straight folks weren’t able to raise — and there are gay children (that’s where gay adults come from). Anyone who thinks there is something else happening between gays and kids besides parenting (or being an aunt or nanny or cousin) or being gay and being a kid does not have a firm grip on reality and should not have nuclear weapons. What’s happening to gay folks in Russia right now is heartbreaking and awful and should scare us all. And it’s also a great reason to keep the conversation about equal rights and equal marriage here in the States going. Don’t be like Russia on this one, America. 


Are you political? 

See above. 


What are you against? 

See two above. 


What are you anti-? 

See three above. 


What is the difference? 

One of those questions was below the other. 


What are you pro-? 

All human beings being treated like human beings.  


What are you a pro at? 

Much like Pantene, I’m a pro at V’s. And that is a hilarious sex joke. 


How is your Borat? 

My Bo Rat is a professional athlete in two sports. 


... You like? 

Yes. He’s made me tons of money with endorsements. That photo of him with a baseball bat across his little rat shoulders — perfection. 


When you get married, instead of saying “my girlfriend,” you’d say:  

My wife. Co-owner of these kids (gesturing toward future kids).


We’ve seen you describe yourself as a “tiny lesbian.” How tiny are we talking?  

0.5 Briennes of Tarth. 


What do you think Steve Spielberg is doing right now? 



Explain the Middle East in seven words:  

Whose Shire is it? (That was four.) 


Fill in the blanks: ___ ___ what ___ eat (hint: It’s “you are what you eat”) 

Never say this to a comic. Never! We are trying the best we can! We don’t always live at our houses! We might eat a stale bag of hotel-room pretzels or a hard-boiled egg from Starbucks, but we are not these things! 


All set? 

So say we all.  


Photography by Mandee Johnson


READ MORE Gauntlet: 50 Questions:

The Gauntlet: 50 Questions with Paul F. Tompkins

Photo by Paul F. Tompkins

Photo by Paul F. Tompkins


In lieu of a real interview, we sent 50 questions
to Paul F. Tompkins and told him to answer as many
as he could and that regardless of how far he got,
we'd publish all of them.

We abbreviated your name in internal emails as PFT. Do you ever refer to yourself as PFT?

When I talk about myself in the third person, it tends to be more along the lines of, “His Excellency.”


How about PYT?

How ABOUT it?!


You know, like the Michael Jacko song?

I DO like the Michael Jacko song!


You probably get that PYT thing a lot, don’t you?

Uhhh. Not at all! What fun.


Just so you know, regardless of your answer, we will consider you a PYT.

Let’s move on.


If you had a nickname that the press gave you, what would it be?

Up to the press to decide? I’m sorry, I’m trying to follow your question 
but you’re asking me to read the minds of the Fourth Estate.


What would you have to do to end up in the tabloids?

Be known by more than 100 people? THIS OUGHTTA DO IT!


You were once on a show called DAG. What was it like working 
with David Alan Grier?



Are you currently wearing your trademark suit?



How many hats do you wear?

Only as many as would make me tall enough to go on rides.


How do you look so goddamn sharp?

Watch your tone. Also, tuck in your shirt.


Define sartorial and use it in a sentence. 

“Sartorial” refers to matters of clothing, as in, “I know ‘sartorial’ relates to clothing in some way, but I’m not sure, so could you define it for me?”


Are you, or have you ever, been a wearer of tank tops?

I have no occasion to enter tanks, so no.


Gotta let those guns breathe, right?

... Sure.


Because they’re hot?



Who’s got the sexiest arms in Hollywood?

Whoever wears the longest sleeves, because they’re clearly trying to 
maintain order by concealing them.


What do the words “Man, it’s brutal out there” mean to you?



How can one make talking about the weather more interesting?

Act like you made it happen: “Sorry about the rain today. My hand slipped.”


We’re covering a lot of family topics in this issue. Mind if we ask you 
about your family?

I dare you to.


F. Thompkins: That’s a name of Hispanic descent, correct?

Maybe. I’m no expert, though, because my name is TOMPKINS.


Do you know what your parents did before you were born?

Yes, I would watch them from heaven while I was waiting to be born.


How did they ever live without you?



If they’re reading this, and we assume they are, what would you want to tell them here and not in person?

“I love you.”


What are your thoughts on sisters?



What are your thoughts on the sisters? 

I can only respond by swiveling my head on my neck like crazy.


Aunts: Overrated? Underrated?

Well, they’re no uncles.


Do you pronounce the word “aunt” as “ant” or “awnt”?

I say “ain’t,” like Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, R.F.D. 


If you could institute an entirely new pronunciation of the word aunt, what would it be?



What does motherhood mean to you?

Let’s get this party started!


Anybody can get a gun but it takes a man to be a father, right?

It’s not really a question if you just add “right” to the end, is it?


Rank your family members. Go. 

Okay, I went and did it.


What’s your Thanksgiving like?

Revelation 4:4.


What’s your favorite Thanksgiving memory with your family?

We only have one shared memory — the time that scientist tried 
to fuse our consciousnesses together.


What question are you asked most at family gatherings?

“When are you going to appear in The Occasional? Until you do, 
we consider you a failure, right?”


How would you explain podcasts to the very elderly?

Slowly but concisely.


How do they explain paintings to you?

LOTS of pointing and grunting.


Do you have, or are you currently having, any children?

I don’t have any kids ... that I participate in the lives of! [Up top]



I don’t need to deplete my candy budget catering to unsophisticated palates.


What would you tell your daughter, Abigail, if you had a daughter 
named Abigail?

“I’m just going out for a pack of cigarettes.”


Leno or Letterman … to have as your dad?



Would you like to stop these questions? You can if you’d like. 

Fuck you.


Let’s get to the hard-hitting questions: You see someone who you’re 
pretty sure is Hitler, but he’s walking a real cute dog. What do you do?

I march right up to that dog and let him know EXACTLY who’s holding his leash. Then watch them fight.


What would you tell Eric Clapton when you meet him in heaven?

“I coveted my neighbor’s wife, too, but here we both are!”


Eric Clapton: Dead or alive?

Alive, please? I am uncomfortable giving the kill order on Clapton.


Are you sure?

No. Take him down.


Who’s on your bucket list?

The bucketiest people I can think of! Lots of folks with chins or 
beards that look like handles.


In terms of hot cereal, you a Farina or Cream of Wheat man?

I like to do a hot cereal “suicide” with both Farina and Cream of Wheat, with a little McCann’s Steel-Cut Irish Oatmeal and some gruel. 


Speaking of, what do you think of that Cream of Wheat man they 
have on the box?

I LOVE his hat.


Which Vacation movie is your favorite: Christmas Vacation or Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure?



White pants: what’s the story there?



This article was originally published November 2013


The Gauntlet: 50 Questions with Maria Bamford

Photography by  Piper Ferguson

Photography by Piper Ferguson


In lieu of a real interview, we sent over 50 questions to Maria Bamford and told her to answer as many as she could and that regardless of how far she got, we'd publish all of them. 


So you incorporate a lot of characters and voices into your act, right?



How many do you do?

About 4 voices.


Can you do one right now?



How’d it go?

Well, I did an impersonation of me doing an impersonation of myself doing an impersonation of me because I am in a hotel business center and I feel self-conscious.  I said “hello” to myself in the mirror. It was pretty accurate.


What person would you say has the best speaking voice in the world?

Barack Obama has a very warm palate of tones.


How about the best peaking voice?

The voice of Everest has been silent, but as it is trampled by millions seeking its summit, I believe it will rise up.  (What are we talking about?)


Who needs to stop talking all together?

I’m often caught in the middle of my own monologue to a stranger and wonder— what’s that high-pitched beeping— “Oh! I’m still talking!”


What was the best conversation you had in the past week?

My boyfriend doing impersonations of our dogs.


If you’re in a group conversation, what’s your role?

Listener, laugher (Lady).


You’re buying a picture frame and notice that the stock photo in the frame is YOU. What do you do?

Call my manager to celebrate!


How do you stay in such tip top shape?



What’s your favorite exercise?

Elliptical while Netflixing.


How much can you bench?



What’s your relationship like with your parents?

Casual, sexy.


What do you wish it was like?

Intense, confusing.


What’s something you wish you could say to your parents but never would?

You guys, I’m going back to school in Library Science.


Do you think they’ll read this interview?

My Mom had me on Google-Alert –so I assume, yes.  Hi, Mom!


How old is too old to start doing stand-up?

With technology, I think hospice care, or late 50’s-90’s, is the best time to start!  Free time, great perspective on some edgy topics— death, chronic pain, loss, bedsores.  The Internet is a 24 hour international open mic and the AARP membership is a growing, untapped audience.  I can’t wait to see what my parents’ generation is going to come up with.  They’re cra-zay.


What’s the funniest joke you’ve ever heard told by a child?

I like a fart noise.


What’s the least funny joke you’ve ever heard told by a child?

Hitting me on the head with a plastic baseball bat.


Do you know anyone you would consider a “hack”?

I certainly have the characteristics of what I’ve heard a “hack” is— heterosexual relationships, food, airport references.  And there’s always 
a new generation of “hack”— so, I’m sure whatever’s edgy now will become the norm and then, the people will rise up.


Do you know anyone you would consider a “hacker”?

I am in a commune of artistes.  We do not speak of technology.


Angelina Jolie was in Hackers. How would you describe her whole “deal”?

She’s pretty great and all.


Since this is a sex-themed issue, do you mind if we ask you a few sex related questions?

Of course.  I want to be obliging.


Sex: Overrated? Underrated?

UNDER!  It’s so fun and funny. 


What sex advice would you give to someone having sex for the first time?



What sex advice would you give to someone having sex for the last time?

Give it your 20%!


Pornography: what does the word mean to you?

Cash cow, harder than waitressing.


What’s a good outfit someone can wear during sex?

V-neck trousers. 


Who’s sexier? Steve Jobs or Steve Spielberg?

I can’t choose.  They both have their sensual energies.  Especially since Steve Jobs would be a ghost.


What’s your favorite Steve Spielberg movie?

ET.  It reminds me of how I feel living in Los Angeles.  Surviving off of Reese’s Pieces in a closet.


Ol’ Steve Spielberg is getting a little full of himself, no?

He has a lot to be proud of.  He’s been able to do a lot despite being a tiny little man with girl hands.


When would you say Steve Spielberg jumped the shark?

This is where I mention Jaws.


Did you say Jaws? You know, because of the shark that’s in that movie?



Who directed Jaws 2?

I don’t know and I won’t check.


Did you even see Jaws 2?

No, I didn’t and I won’t. I simply will not watch JAWS 2.


Explain yourself. 

A typical day for me involves approximately four hours of upright consciousness— all activities must be contained between 12 noon and 4 and then I fall into a heap of pugs.  There is no room—with all of my snacking and responsibilities—to attend to all of pop culture.


Do you watch House of Cards?

Negatory, but my parents keep me up to date on Kevin Spacey’s shenanigans.


What is your favorite TV show, not including House of Cards?

DEREK!!!!!! And Suze Orman (available on iTunes!).


Which is more fun to play, House or Cards?

House is much more fun— especially grocery shop miming.


Do you care about the Beatles?

We keep in touch.


Who’s tall these days?

Is Manute Bol still a reference?


What do you do when you see someone over seven feet tall?

I enunciate clearly and loudly.


It’s like where do they even get off?

Well, they get off at whatever stop they want to but if they go to the end of the line— then, that’s their beeswax.


If you were a betting woman, what would be the name of the horse you’d bet on?

Braindead Megaphone – title of one of my favorite books – or Bert.


Are you a betting woman?



Have you ever stolen anything? 

I have stolen food. And when I say stolen—I mean—relieved friends of old candy corn in a cupboard while they weren’t watching.  Who is the victim?


Are you currently in possession of anything that doesn’t belong to you?

As a middle-class white woman, I’m sure there are a few things I’ve appropriated that I should return. I should probably give back reggae.


What is the quickest and easiest way to express disapproval?

Grimace and downcast eyes.


Boxers or brief...cases?

I’m going with Boxers.  Petting dogs lowers your blood pressure, and business luggage is still evolving.


This article was originally published October 2013


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