The comedian and Lloyd the Conqueror star ruminates on having fun with role-play, getting out-nerded, and being “that guy.”
Role players aren’t playa haters.
A bear-sized 46-year-old from Los Angeles, Posehn has been a mainstay of the American alt-comedy scene ever since his ’90s stint on cult hit Mr. Show. Frequent touring as part of the stand-up showcase The Comedians of Comedy, with pals like Patton Oswalt, led to greater visibility, as did some memorable TV roles. Yet Lloyd the Conqueror—a raucous new Canadian comedy in which he plays Andy, a game-store owner who serves as a Gandalf-like guide for newbie live-action role players—gave Posehn fresh opportunities and even nerdier exposure. As a longtime Dungeons & Dragons player, Posehn says he’s able to relate to the LARPer lifestyle, although he believes there’s a line that separates the two communities of cloaked nerds. “I don’t think any of us looks down on the other guys,” he insists. “When I’m at Comic Con, I feel like it’s all just a bunch of people who like these different things on a level that most people don’t. So nobody thinks what anyone else is into is weird…except maybe for furries.” He also suspects that D&D players have no reason to feel superior to their LARPer brethren: “Maybe we’re worse because we don’t go outside. D&D guys aren’t out in a forest getting exercise— we’re just eating Cheetos and sitting around a table.”
Getting out-geeked is rough.
Posehn’s nerd credentials are nothing if not impeccable. Among his recent endeavours is collaborating on a new slate of adventures for Deadpool, Marvel Comics’ snarkiest superhero. But even though he’s right at home in his favourite comic shop, he admits he can feel outgunned when he has to go into a hobby store like the one his character presides over. “If I walk in there to get a new D&D figurine or book and the guys are playing military games that I know nothing about, I always feel like the lesser nerd,” says Posehn. “There’s this place called the Last Grenadier in L.A. where, even though I’m a grown man, I always feel like these guys are gonna school me.”
He’s really a master thespian at heart.
Part of the appeal of this film project, Posehn says, was the opportunity to play a beefier role than he’s usually offered. “I think any actor wants to do something they don’t normally do. The serious guy wants to be funny and the funny guy wants to have more to do, whether it’s comedy or drama or whatever. If you look at most of my film roles before this, [my] characters don’t even have names. I play clerks, guys who are reading a porno mag when somebody comes into the 7/11 or mini-mart where they work. I make fun of somebody and then they leave and that’s my role.” No wonder he was thrilled to see Andy’s name so many times in the script for Lloyd the Conqueror. “I was like, ‘Look at this—I’ve got monologues. I haven’t had a monologue since high school drama class!’ That was appealing but intimidating as well. I thought, ‘I’m on the screen a lot. I have to make this character real and likeable. And I have to learn all these words!’” As he points out, “I don’t have to do a lot of acting work to play the surly clerk.”
Best beware of encounters with strangers that start with the words “Hey, you’re that guy!”
Though the stand-up side of Posehn’s career has benefitted from the podcast-fuelled alt-comedy boom of recent years, people are more likely to recognize him from his many screen appearances. Still, things can get squirrelly when strangers can’t place who he is but are excited to see him all the same. Posehn got a reminder of that while in Toronto for the local premiere of Lloyd the Conqueror and a show at the Annex Wreckroom last month. “This guy noticed me the other night and said, ‘Holy shit, it’s that guy!’ He follows me down the street with all his friends. I got nervous because I’m not sure how tough your Toronto hooligans are. So they surrounded me and then these girls came running over—they don’t even know this guy who started yelling. The girls were asking, ‘Who are you, where are you from?’ as they’re taking pictures. Maybe they’re saving it for Facebook. The caption’s gonna say, ‘Hey, it’s us with this weirdo! Do you know him? We don’t. Can you tag him?’”
Lloyd the Conqueror opens in theatres on Nov. 30.