Graphically Speaking: An Interview with Uncle Yo

The New York Comic Con is always a gargantuan event. Movie stars, writers, artists, and costumed fans overrun the Jacob Javits Center every year. It’s easy to get lost in the sights and sounds, but if you search for some lesser-known professionals, it can be more rewarding than waiting 3 hours in line for “The Walking Dead” panel. Uncle Yo is one-such character, a geek-centric stand-up comic with a rabid following. A mainstay at NYCC for years, Yo took a second to talk to me about George Carlin’s favorite topic: stuff.

How was the fan response at NYCC this year?

It was a bit more than I was expecting. The downstairs to the Javits [Center] was packed, as per usual for prime panel time on Saturday (usually after lunch but before 4pm when everyone starts to get tired) and the energy was high. I have to admit I’m still the most nervous performing in front of Comic Con. Any performer will tell you that open-air is the hardest, most indirect way of talking to a crowd, especially one distracted by costumes everywhere. I always want to do a straight comic book-centric performance, but while my audience is so anime oriented, they want and expect me to talk about anime almost exclusively. What blows me away most are all the faces I recognize coming up to me show after show, after show, just to shake my hand and say thank you. It’s a rare feeling, especially at a convention, to have someone thank you out of the blue.


How did the idea of a podcast come up? Why do it in seasons?

A gentleman named Jimmy approached me after a cosplay burlesque show and asked “how would you like to host a podcast?” What more could I ask for? “We Are the Geek” started with a simple mission: get my fans a weekly dosage of me, my opinions on moderation within the fandom and to meet some of my friends. My biggest inspirations come from Marc Maron’s “WTF” (of course) and “Stuff You Should Know.” I like the idea of giving young nerds a sense of community and heritage, like when we tackled the summer of “Doctor Who.” I like to do programming blocks (“Doctor Who,” Disney Afternoon) because there’s a spot of history, a place for newer (or older) fans to build up a base knowledge of geekdom and appreciate where it all comes from. If I did the show week-by-week, “here’s what happened today” style, I’d be like every other podcast out there and, to be frank, there are many more producers and casters with MUCH more time, experience and budgeting than I can allocate. I try to stay personal and talk about the things I love. My positive views as a stand-up and a voice in the convention community seems to attribute to fan response.

Do you have any new projects coming up?

How did you know? We are aiming to release the new Uncle Yo album in early 2013 over iTunes, Amazon.com and possibly (just possibly) doing a simulcast video release. Booking 2013 has already proven a full-time commitment, and I have a few other plans in the work to further release content, the problem right now is finding the dedicated artist.

What are your thoughts on the recent crop of comic book movies?

Comic book movies are the only movies I go to theaters to see at this point. When I saw “The Avengers,” I pointed to the screen and told my girlfriend, “If you ever wonder what’s going on in my head…that. Two hours of THAT.” Hollywood has finally realized that comics, if nothing else, are a great source for stories and summer blockbusters. It’s a glorious triumph to have America and a new generation of kids introduced to their proper heritage of rich, comic book characters so long as it encourages them to read the books and explore in more literary formats.

I am hoping against evidence that smaller, independent filmmakers will draw from indie comics to producer more smaller stories like “Ghost World,” “Kings in Disguise,” or even Jeff Lemire’s newest piece, “The Underwater Welder.” I used to mention in my stand-up act how nice it is to finally have conversations of meaning with my family…when in reality, I’ve been talking about Batman since I was seven years old. I have no issues with Hollywood creating new movies and stories from existing comic sources. After all, it seems the diarrhea deluge of sequels is finally slowing down, what with “Iron Man 3” making its….oh, wait, there’s already a third…never mind then.

Will you watch “Arrow?” If so, is it Kevin Smith’s fault?

I see the CW as chic-lit with better lighting. It’s all hot people either breaking scenery or being snarky. While I love “Supernatural,” it is a “World of Darkness” fan fiction with homoerotic undertones. “The Vampire Diaries” is “True Blood” without the appeal, and most of their other sci-fi/action offerings have a hard time holding my interest, seeing as I’m not a thirteen-year-old Californian schoolgirl. Not anymore…

Will I watch “Arrow?” Not really. I like Oliver Queen more as a comic book character rather than a darkly-lit, well-shaven Christian Bale-lite. It’s certainly a colorful direction to follow in the path set by the much beloved “Smallville,” but I don’t find myself on a quest to hunt for this particular longbow.

For upcoming tour dates, merch, and all things Uncle Yo, check out www.uncleyo.com. His podcast, “We Are the Geek” is available on iTunes.

Posted on October 29, 2012 at 10:32 by Lowell Greenblatt · Permalink
In: Uncategorized