WASHINGTON -- Dave Hill leads an interesting life. The author of the new book of non-fiction, "Tasteful Nudes," will be in D.C. Wednesday to host the next Story League competition at Busboys and Poets.
In addition to releasing a book in May, Hill has appeared on "This American Life," hosted a television show on the once cool but now defunct Mojo network, plays a mean guitar and is genuinely funny. Hill spoke to The Huffington Post about his new book, upcoming hosting duties and what it takes to tell a good story.
The Huffington Post: You're a newly published author with "Tasteful Nudes." What should people know about it?
Dave Hill: It's the best book. That's what I'm telling people. They should know most people really like it.
HuffPost: It has a 5-star Amazon rating.
Hill: And the media reviews are better than I ever could have hoped for. All really good to great. The only one that wasn't very kind was the first review I read and was crushed by it. All the other reviews have been great.
HuffPost: And now you have a Tumblr based on the book.
Hill: Yeah, it's funny. People started sending in photos of them holding the book covering their crotch. People just started sending photos of the full range, pets, babies, naked dudes, topless women, people at the beach.
HuffPost: You're a ladies' man but aren't threatening to men or women.
Hill: I'd like to feel threatening to gentlemen, their ladies aren't safe. Maybe their lady will question the man that they're with when they get absored into my world. Maybe I'm helping the world by helping men to be better men. It's not for me to say if I'm a ladies' man.
HuffPost: In addition to being an author, comic and radio personality, you're also a musician. How do you like to be described? You're also a podcaster.
Hill: It's funny because podcaster is a title that sort of happened recently. I like to say entertainer but that sounds obnoxious and old.
HuffPost: Why did you write the book?
Hill: It's different than most of the other comedians' books. There's actual writing, not just a blog as a book. I was a journalist before I was ever a comic. I felt like I was on the path to write a book and comedy got in the progression of that. It was like, "Oh shit, I should probably write a book while they still make books."
HuffPost: What was your progression?
Hill: I started playing music as a teenager. Then I got into writing. With journalism, I just liked to write joke. If I could get a couple of jokes into a 750 word story, all I cared about were the jokes. With playing in bands, I really liked talking on stage. I think falling into comedy was a natural combination. It just sort of worked out.
HuffPost: How old were you when you first performed as a stand up?
Hill: I was in my early 30s. I never planned to go into comedy. I didn't grow up a comedy geek, I didn't indentify with stand ups. I was more interested in guys like David Letterman, Chris Elliot, Pee-Wee Herman. It wasn't so much about George Carlin, who is great. Which is maybe why my form of stand up is a bit more absurd, conceptual. I just do what I find entertaining. In a way I feel like I'm just now figuring it out. It's not like a lot of my friends that started when they were 18 or something. I still feel pretty new at it in many ways.
HuffPost: When did you leave Ohio?
HuffPost: So you hadn't tried stand up yet?
Hill: I came to New York to write for TV shows and just be in New York. I found some like minded individuals. I knew no stand up comedians. When I started doing comedy I had only been to one or two comedy shows. I started when some friends who ran shows asked me if I wanted to do something. I didn't have goals. It was more like, "All right, I'll show up and do this show on Thursday night." That's as far as I thought. Then someone else who was at that show would ask me to do another show.
HuffPost: What advice do you have for story tellers?
Hill: It's finding the thing. Sometimes it's an extraodinary story with extraordinary circumstances. Sometimes it's an ordinary story and finding the thing that makes it interesting. When I was writing the book, the challenge was thinking about the common experiences and finding out how I could shed some new light on it. It's easy to write, "I shit my pants! Yeah!" The challenge is pushing yourself to find out what you really have to think about something and talk about that.
I do "This American Life" a lot and Ira Glass is the best at it, finding the interesting thing. You're lucky if you have someone like Ira. If you're doing a Story League show you obviously have that.
Story telling is about flipping something around and looking at it from all angles. Finding out what really moves you about something rather than what's the obvious thing.
Not to get too esoteric but it's sort of like drawing. Let's say you're drawing a hand. The challenge is to look at whoever's hand you're drawing and draw that hand, not just what your brain thinks a hand is. Your brain will say to draw five fingers. It's really about examining. You have to look at that hand like it's the first hand you've seen. That's part of the fun of writing a book or telling a story.
In the book, talking about my mom dying, yeah, it's really sad and it's going to be really sad for anyone, having anyone die sucks, but for me, aside from the obvious, what's truly bizarre is when it feels like she just moved. It just made no sense that she died. It fascinated me about the experience. I never would have anticipated that I really couldn't process it, besides my emotions, it was illogical. Talking about that and articulating it. That's what story telling is. Sharing an insight into the ordinary or sharing your extraordinary.
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