Kurt Braunohler loves beavers. The frequent @midnight panelist is widely known for his past sketch work with Last Man on Earth star Kristen Schaal, pranks with planes and butts, and his web series Roustabout — in which he rode a jet ski from Chicago to New Orleans. However, these days Braunohler is focusing more on comedy with a minor role and onset writing gig for Michael Showalter’s Sundance hit The Big Sick, and a new stand-up special for Comedy Central. And beavers, which the comic featured prominently in the concluding number for Kurt Braunohler: Trust Me.
Audiences who missed out on the special’s taping in Portland, Oregon can tune in tonight at midnight to find how Braunohler incorporated the semi-aquatic rodents into the show. Though as we discovered in conversation with him, it seems the New Jersey native’s fascination with beavers is there for all to see on social media. And if there’s anyone or anything to blame for the hilarious performer’s penchant for dam builders, it’s IMAX.
I don’t think I have a great reason. I just think they’re inherently hilarious. You know, I’ll tell you. Now that you say it, it does trigger something. When I was probably, I think, 19 years old, I went to the IMAX in Baltimore in the Inner Harbor, and I saw this film on IMAX called Beavers. It was six stories tall, and it was beavers. They followed this one family of beavers for maybe 20 years, though that seems impossible because IMAX didn’t exist back then. And they transformed a tiny stream into this huge lake, and they actually got cameras up inside the beaver dam and you watched them fucking. Honestly, it was like watching six story-tall beavers having sex. I’ve never been able to find that film anywhere, so it became this mystical, magical memory about beavers. I think that’s where the obsession came from.
You tweet about them all the time. It’s random and wonderful.
Oh I do, do I? I did not realize. I guess it all stems from that. This is kind of like a therapy session now. We’re really figuring out where shit comes from.
How did Trust Me come together?
I put together the through line for Montreal’s Just for Laughs Comedy Festival. I was doing around 20 shows in a row there. Not last summer, but the summer before. And then I just kept tweaking it from then, touring with it and getting it to more of a stand-up show as a opposed to a theater piece. There were aspects of it that were much more theater-y that I chose not to include in the special, because it just worked better to have it be more of a streamlined stand-up show for Comedy Central.
I first heard you perform with Kristen Schaal several years ago. It felt more like sketch comedy than stand-up, but Trust Me is definitely stand-up. Do you have a preference for either format?
My stand-up work is much more joke and storytelling based than my sketch work, and that’s purposeful. That’s the kind of stand-up that I like. All the old sketch stuff is from probably close to 10 years ago, really. That’s when I wrote it all. I prefer doing stand-up these days. That’s where my main focus is.