Iron Man
Brian Posehn—actor, writer, metal head, etc.—unleashes his brand of standup comedy on Philadelphia later this month
by Bill Donahue

He possesses a very particular kind of celebrity: Just about everyone recognizes his face and his distinctive voice (not to mention his remarkable height, at a towering 6 feet, 7 inches), though not everyone knows his name—which, by the way, is Brian Posehn (pronounced “Po-Sane”).

Posehn’s lengthy C.V. includes acting roles in everything from “Friends,” “Seinfeld” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” to “Mr. Show,” “Californication” and “The Big Bang Theory.” He’s also enjoyed his share of memorable roles in films, including “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” and Rob Zombie’s 2005 horror classic “The Devil’s Rejects.”

Posehn’s repertoire extends far beyond the world of acting, though. For three years he wrote “Deadpool” for Marvel Comics, and he’s also responsible for penning “The Last Christmas,” a graphic novel series in which Santa Claus must fend off a horde of ravenous zombies in a post-apocalyptic world.

He’s nothing if not flexible.

A self-described “nerd” obsessed with heavy metal, horror and comic books, Posehn has crammed all these passions and more into his particular brand of standup comedy. He will bring his wide-ranging act to Philadelphia later this month, when he will headline Helium Comedy Club from July 28 to 30, ahead of the release of his latest Netflix special, “Criminally Posehn.”

We spoke with Posehn about his upcoming Philadelphia dates—plus, Monty Python, Iron Maiden and how he’s dog walking his way to weight loss, among other things.

For people who have never seen you do standup before, what can they expect from one of your shows? 
I’m a grown man with the interests of a 15-year-old boy, so I don’t act right. … The quick answer to your question is that I think I’m silly, but I also know I’m smart, so my jokes tend to tread the line between high brow and low brow. My biggest influences are Steve Martin and Monty Python, and I wear both of those influences on my sleeve. I do some smart jokes, but I also have no problem being the silliest person possible. … It’s a weird time in the world right now, so I try not to talk about things that make you frown. My skill has always been being silly, being goofy and being good at making fun of myself.

What does an audience at your show look like?

At a comedy club like Helium, which is one of my favorite places to play, you get a mix. Mostly they are different degrees of nerds: horror nerds, metal nerds, comedy nerds. You get people who know my work from “Mr. Show” or “The Comedians of Comedy.” You have people who follow “Deadpool.” You have metal guys and their wives and girlfriends. For somebody who has no idea who I am, they get to find out I like all those nerdy things, but I also like sex and things that are outside.

You’re sort of famous for your taste in music. Who do you have on Spotify these days?

I have an old iPod, and that’s what I still listen to when I walk, because I’ve been trying to lose weight. The iPod is super-old at this point, so it doesn’t hold enough songs. … I still love reading the metal magazines, so that’s where I learn about new bands. Some new stuff I’ve gotten into in recent years: Ghost, Huntress, Red Fang, and last year it was Visigoth. Other than that, I listen to the old [stuff]. My favorite record this year is probably from Anthrax, and I also like the new stuff from Megadeth and Death Angel.

What was the first band that got you into metal?
Early on it was KISS, AC/DC, Van Halen—the hard rock stuff. I would say the first metal band was Iron Maiden. I was aware of bands like Judas Priest, but when I heard Iron Maiden, that was it.

The worlds of acting and heavy metal have sort of collided for you. You had a small but memorable role in Rob Zombie’s horror film “The Devil’s Rejects.” How did you hook up with Mr. Zombie?
[“Talking Dead” host] Chris Hardwick is one of my oldest friends in comedy, and he was in [Zombie’s] “House of 1000 Corpses.” I was probably the biggest “metal” friend of all his friends, so one time we were talking, and I didn’t say I was jealous that he was in [the film], but that must have come across. So one time he told Rob to invite me to a party. Rob’s a big comedy fan, and he’d also seen my acting. We were talking and he told me, “I just saw you on ‘Everybody Loves Raymond.’ I love that show,” so I was in his head. We became friends, so when he was working on “The Devil’s Rejects,” he wrote a part for me. Originally he wanted me to play a serial killer … but he later told me, “That part I wrote for you? It went away, but I still want to have you in the movie.” So I just told him, “Whatever you wrote for me, I would consider it an honor.”

You said you were trying to lose weight?
I’m now at the weight I was when I was in my 30s, which is nice. My intention is to lose the weight I gained in my 40s. I’ve got a young boy now, and I want to stay alive. The key was eating better. I also have a giant dog—a Bernese mountain dog—and she would eat my house if I didn’t walk her, so that’s been a big thing. I walk her twice a day, so I’m walking at least two miles every day. … So far I’ve lost 45 pounds. I’m down from the heaviest I’ve ever been. Things are good, and I’m keeping it off. My goal is to get down 60 pounds total.

Photograph by Seth Olenick