Hodgman brings quirky humor to Plaza


John Hodgman’s “Vacationland” show

9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22

$27.50 plus fees

Plaza Theatre

1049 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta

John Hodgman possesses an imposing mustache, one that might even scare off Tom Selleck or John Oates.

The humorist and “Daily Show” contributor — appearing in a one-man show Sept. 22 at the Plaza Theater in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood — approaches his ‘stache the same way he approaches his comedy.

“I’m only doing what I can do. I can only grow the mustache and tell jokes that are interesting to me. When I decided to shave off the mustache last October, I wondered if I’d feel real happy. ‘Oh. That’s who I used to be!’ Instead, I looked at myself and said, ‘Oh! It’s you again!’ So I started growing it again. Now I have this rather disruptively deranged summer beard that I will keep for the Atlanta show so everyone can see the dangers of bad grooming.”

His droll, quirky sense of humor draws a certain nerdy/hipster following, the types who listen to his podcast “Judge John Hodgman.” As a “judge,” he takes on silly disputes and resolves them. Subjects he has tackled recently: the right way to put toilet paper on the roll, how to confront a 40-year-old listening to electronic dance music and how to properly do the “YMCA” dance.

The reference to “YMCA” allowed Hodgman in his latest podcast to comment wryly about the Village People, who hit it big in the late 1970s. “They dressed up as masculine cultural icons as a part of a profound art project that got all of mainstream America singing along to how to pick up men at the Y, ” he said. “Then they went on ‘The Love Boat.’ And that’s amazing!”

His podcast will feature the occasional celebrity guest. Marietta’s own food guru Alton Brown has dropped by a couple of times.

“I’ve been a huge fan of his since the ‘Good Eats’ days,” Hodgman said. “When I was writing for Men’s Journal many years ago, I was asked to do a road trip with a food personality. I liked Alton so I insinuated myself into his life. Suddenly, we were two strangers on a drive to Oxford, Miss. We realized somewhere in Montgomery, we had nothing to say to one another. But we have remained in friendly contact. I am always eager to be in his company. I do aim to reach out to him” before he returns to town.

Hodgman, over the years, has done many a show in Atlanta but likes to perform at distinctive places that don’t normally host comedians. Last year, he performed at Erikson Clock, a satellite venue for Westside arts hub the Goat Farm.

This time around, he’s going to stand in front of a big movie screen at the 76-year-old Plaza Theatre. “I am looking forward to the air-conditioned beauty of that majestic theatre and just steps away, there’s the Majestic Diner!” Hodgman said. “They used to serve fried chicken livers but sadly enough, not anymore.”

Hodgman is not fazed by the rather modest lighting in the theater: “I’m luminous. It doesn’t matter. I’ve been injected with radioactive matter so you’ll be able to see me!”

Regardless, you’ll also be able to continue to see Hodgman’s occasional appearances on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show.” Although Jon Stewart recently stepped down and Trevor Noah is taking over the hosting duties later this month, most of the writing staff and correspondents will remain. Hodgman has already shown up in promos.

In the past on the show, he’s come on as the “resident expert,” playing off the trio of fake trivia books he has written. More recently, he became the “deranged millionaire.”

Now he has to come up with a new character. “With Donald Trump leading in the polls for president, I”m not sure the deranged millionaire would add anything. I don’t think there’s a joke that would compete with the long-form improv comedy that Donald Trump is doing. He’s clearly committed to it.”