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T.J. Miller's whirlwind year


?Buckhead's famed comedy club The Improv is closing with a bang.
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?Fittingly scheduled on New Year's Eve, The Improv has tapped one of the most sought after voices in comedy to close out the venue — and 2015 — in style. Comedian T.J. Miller, known best as Erlich on HBO's “Silicon Valley” and for his upcoming role in the blockbuster movie Deadpool, has plans to make his NYE show at The Improv one that his audience will not soon forget.
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?“I'm going to tear the place apart,” Miller says. “We may actually, as a group, set the entire place on fire. Really, the point of this standup show is to blow it out one last time in Atlanta. This is going to be a show that no one else will ever see.”
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?Creative Loafing chatted with Miller about his whirlwind year, including such high points as earning a lifetime supply of Mucinex and such lows as offending everyone in Silicon Valley as host of the tech awards show, the Crunchies.
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????Congratulations of an incredibly eventful 2015! You won a Critics' Choice Award, you got married, and you're working on a highly anticipated movie, Deadpool. That's a lot to happen in one year.
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?T.J. Miller: It is! My agents filled up the year for me, and I couldn't believe it. It was just thing after thing. And it's crazy, — I won a Critics' Choice Award and now I'm hosting the Critics' Choice Awards this year.
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?The folks over at the Critics' Choice Awards must have really liked your acceptance speech back in January since they asked you to host in 2016.
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?T.M.: Yeah, that's what I was thinking. I look at the thing now and I go, “This comedian job is turning out to be worth a lot more money that I thought it would be.” Laughs.
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?The difference in reception of your speech at the Critics' Choice Awards — where they loved you — and your speech at the Crunchies — which was not well received at all — is crazy.
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?T.M.: I love that you know that. I was frustrated by their reception at the Crunchies, because it's exactly what we're making fun of on “Silicon Valley.” Silicon Valley executives are so self-absorbed and unaware, that basically what they did was hire the guy who is the rudest, brashest, most R-rated, most flagrantly offensive of all of the characters on “Silicon Valley” — and then were offended when I was that character. Silicon Valley executives don't understand. They like it when people are talking about them, so they like the show. But they don't like to be made fun of or for people to point out what's really wrong with them.
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?Do you and your “Silicon Valley” character Erlich have a lot in common?
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?T.M.: I hate to say it, but yes. Erlich is an exaggerated version of me, although I'm not a very good actor, so everything I do is an exaggerated version. If I didn't give a shit about people's feelings and was fine with being crass and offending people — and if I smoked weed just a little more than I do now — then I think that's pretty much Erlich, unfortunately. We're both kind of nihilists. We feel that the world just is what it is. For Erlich, you have to be an asshole to get ahead. And he's more prone to using other people to sort of get to the next step. I tend towards the idea that if I just work harder, then I'll get to the next step. So yeah, there are little differences in our approach to life. For the most part though, we're both blowhards who are constantly high.
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?What's it been like filming Deadpool?
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?T.M.: It's pretty strange. We have to keep it true to the comics. The movie is R-rated. It's pretty dark. Ryan breaks the fourth wall. And it's very funny! It's kind of this insane roller coaster of emotions. The movie is more like Blade Runner or Mad Max: Fury Road. It's not like ... Fantastic Four. Nothing like that, you know. It's not a cookie-cutter origin story to introduce another possible franchise. But once I saw it, I immediately wanted to see it a second time.
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?What can you tell us about your Deadpool character Weasel?
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?T.M.: Again, I'm playing someone who's absolutely horrible. Laughs. Weasel doesn't really give a shit about anything or anyone except himself. If he thinks he can make a little money, he'll do anything. He won't betray Wade, though, because Wade is the only other person in this world that is like him. Wade is an antihero, a nihilist. He hates the idea of being a superhero. And he, too, is kind of just out for money as a mercenary.
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?Do people ever recognize you out on the streets now? As Erlich or the guy who voices the Mucinex commercial?
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?T.M.: Laughs and coughs. Man, I need some fucking Mucinex. And they will send it to me for free — don't think that I don't have a lifetime supply. I am Mr. Mucinex. Once I was in a convenience store, and I'm just cruising the aisles. This woman pokes her head into my aisle. She looks at me, and she goes away. I was on the phone, and when I hung up, she pops back over. I think, “She must recognize me.” She walks over to me and she goes, “Hey. The strangest thing just happened. I was buying Mucinex and then I heard your voice. I thought it was one of those things where you press a button and Mr. Mucinex tells you some information. But it was you!” So yeah, I get recognized a lot now. It's basically everywhere I go. Sometimes it's good if people are nice, like if they know me from “Silicon Valley.” And other times it's terrible. Once, I was asleep at the front of a plane. Everyone was leaving, and this guy just grabbed me. It was the definition of a rude awakening, and it scared the shit out of me. He's like, “You got to get off or we'll charge you for a second flight!” He screams at me, and I'm like, “What?” And he just laughs in my face and says, “Good to see you, man. Love your work.” I literally couldn't help it — I was like, “Get away!” I was in a terrible mood for the next hour. I'm in a prison of my own devise ... this celebrity thing. So that's great.
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?You're closing out The Improv as its final show on NYE. That must be a little bittersweet, having performed there before and now you're performing in its last show.

?T.M.: Yes! It's such a good time there. I knew that I would be back, because it's so ridiculous in Atlanta. It's a bummer that it's shutting down. So two things: One, I'm going to tear the place apart, smash chairs and tables. We may actually, as a group, set the entire thing on fire. And then obviously, plant trees and that sort of thing. And two, I'm going to make a show that people are like, “Wow. This is a show that no one else will ever see.” Really, you're going to see some of my act, but the point of this is not for me to rehearse my HBO special. The point of this is to blow it out one last time in Atlanta. So I'll probably be bringing people up on stage. There's going to be a balloon drop, but there's only one balloon. And I'm worried — because it's a helium balloon ... I hope it's heavy enough to drop. Right now it's not dropping, it's just going up. There will be a variety of things like that.
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?Does performing on NYE put more pressure on you?
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?T.M.: I think it puts the same pressure on me that we all put on ourselves on that night. You want it to be this big night, and usually it is. That being said, there's going to be a lot of improvisation. I'm going to mess around with the crowd a bunch.
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?Are you going to be going out or anything for NYE after the show?
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?T.M.: Yeah, we may go to strip clubs. Laughs. I want to go to a couple of the famous Atlanta strip clubs and then conclude at the Clermont.
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?You've spent a bit of time in Atlanta before, performing at The Improv and hosting your podcast from CNN's Situation Room before. What do you know and like about the city?
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?T.M.: I like that it's Southern so everyone is generous and warm and the hospitality is amazing. And I also know that Atlanta knows how to party. For the most part, it's a pretty smart crowd. They're sort of open for anything. A lot of places in the South, they don't want to hear any of my absurdist material. Atlanta isn't like that. Atlanta's a fun place, and it's a major market. It seems like Atlanta always has something going on, there's always something to do. I love cities like that, because if you decide to come see me on New Year's Eve, I know you're saying no to a lot of other options. And so the audience is enthusiastic. It's much more like, “Hey, this is what we're doing tonight, so fuck it! Let's go all out.” Really, I can't wait for the show. I'm going to have a goddamn good time no matter what it is. And that's one of the feelings I get from Atlanta that I love.
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