Department of Tangents Podcast Ep13 – Comedian, Musician, and Author Dave Hill, New Music from Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys

Happy to present to you my conversation with author, comedian, and musician Dave Hill. Hill is a busy guy these days. He just released his second book of essays, Dave Hill Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, he’s on the road doing stand-up and storytelling, and developing a new television pilot. Hill has a distinctive voice as an essayist – he can give himself over to silliness and then comment on something more serious in a way that leaved you no choice but to stay engaged, if only to make sure you’re following his tone correctly. Among the praise heaped on Hill’s writing from Michael Ian Black, Malcolm Gladwell, Jim Gaffigan, Todd Barry, and his sometime touring partner Janeane Garofalo is this from Dick Cavett: “The next president’s first official act should be to declare Dave Hill a living national treasure. He is a major figure among American comic writers, past and present. When reading his stuff, I laugh so loud, the neighbors complain.”

Here’s Hill’s dad playing “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin on piano, with an assist from Hill:

You may also have seen Hill doing stand-up, with a mix of shorter, sillier gags and longer stories. And that’s his band, Valley Lodge, playing the ebullient theme to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Hill does a lot of things, and does them all very well.

We kicked things off with an unexpected anecdote about how Hill, an accomplished guitar player, once auditioned to play with J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. There is a lot of talk about the new book, which tells the story of how he reconnected, or maybe connected for the first time, with his father after his mother died. And a special thanks to Joyce Linehan, who brought Hill to Boston for a salon-style reading and conversation. She was kind enough to let us do the interview at her house.

After the interview, stay tuned for new music from Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys. For your listening pleasure, I have included Come Black Magic, the first single from their new album of the same name. If you like what you hear, please visit Sickert and the Toys on BandCamp, where they are running a special that allows you to buy and download the band’s entire catalogue for as little as six bucks. Take advantage of that while you can.

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