You may know comedian Duncan Trussell for from Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time, Mad TV, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Funny or Die (He was in the Nikola Tesla episode of “Drunk History’ – watch here) or his wildly popular stand-up and podcast, The Duncan Trussell Family Hour. He’s a funny man, but Trussell has a “dark” side, too: He’s a huge fan of Stephen King! I caught this self-described “Stephen King” geek on the phone during a lay-over on his North American tour, and asked him about some of his favorite King novels and stories.
Hey, Duncan! I appreciate you taking time to speak with me. You’re on tour, right?
Yeah, I’m on tour, but on a lay-over in the Atlanta airport.
As I hear it, you’re a big fan of Stephen King, is that right?
Yeah, I’m a gigantic fan. He’s my favorite author alive!
How did you get into Stephen King?
I was a teenager, and it started off as kind of rebellion: Reading Stephen King worried my father. That was enough to keep me into Stephen King, but as I got older I started to really like it. It scared the sh*t out of me, man! When you’re twelve and you read ‘Salem’s Lot for the first time you will go into a fear paralysis at certain scenes in my book. It’s merciless on the nervous system of a teenager. It still scares me, but as I’ve gotten older and become more impervious to those kinds of scares, I’ve really gotten into The Dark Tower series, which is really just psychedelic: It’s a combination mushroom trip/Halloween ride! The Dark Tower series is my favorite fantasy/western/sci fi series that exists. I like it better than any other series, period. I like it better than the Lord of the Rings, I like it better than any series. I’ve read it three times now. I love it, and the reason that I love it is that Stephen King seems to have went mildly insane right around book four! (laughter)
Do you like anything else by King? Do you like any of the short stories?
I’ve read everything by Stephen King except for two books, and I just haven’t gotten to those yet. My favorite short story by Stephen King is “The Long Walk”. I also like “The Jaunt”, “The Raft”. Skeleton Crew, the book, is just incredible. I have several of these stories memorized, almost word for word!
I know that you read a lot. How did Stephen King manage to sink in to such a degree?
He’s such an expert at a kind of casual way of relating these horrific scenes. You just feel like you’re talking to one of your friends who is telling a story. There’s nothing in Stephen King’s writing that is affected: It’s seamless, flowing, and easily accessible. I love it because it’s so easy to believe! The way that he captures the thought patterns of his characters makes them very believable, so regardless of how absurd the situation happens to be, there’s a type of believability that you get in his writing that you won’t get anywhere else – at least that I know of. If anyone else knows of something else, please let me know!
You grew up in the Deep South like I did. What did you think of Carrie? Did it remind you of some of the people who you knew?
Yeah. Yes – Totally! In a southern elementary school, on occasion there are these emaciated, pale children who are the spawn of hardcore religious parents and who are clearly in the midst of a kind of living hell that they think is completely normal. In Carrie, King’s descriptions of the Jesus paintings in that house get across the horror of the passion: The blood in that story, when it is taken literally, and especially when it is shoved down the throat of a person like Carrie, is terrifying.
Does the line “They’re all going to laugh at you!” have a different meaning to you now as a professional comedian?
Yeah! I can tell you that there have been many times when I’ve been on stage and wished that I had the telekinetic ability to cause the doors to slam shut and electricity to shoot into the audience! (laughter)
Well thanks for taking the time to speak with me. Where are you going to be performing on your tour?
I’m going to Vancouver this weekend, and then after that I’m going to Zanie’s in Chicago. After that I’ll be in Dallas, New Orleans, Portland and then Seattle.