Yup, we interviewed that guy. But John Hodgman isn't just a metaphorical stand-in for the PC (even though that's what we mainly asked him about), he's also an editor at the New York Times Magazine and a contributor to the Daily Show. Read on to find out whether he's really a PC user, Microsoft's attempts to recruit him, and how he got the gig in the first place.
So first things first: Mac or PC?
Here is the joke that is absolutely apt, though I once promised I would never make it: "I play one on TV, but I am not a PC." It is true. I am first of all: not a computer, but a human being; and second of all: a Mac user, almost exclusively, since 1984. There was a brief period in the wilderness between 1997 and 2003. Let us not speak of it.
Did you have to do any first-hand research to get into the PC mindset?
OK, if we must speak of it. My PC experience was relatively benign. I had two machines over those two years, and both ended with the PC, despite all of my diligent maintenance, freaking out at the end, unusable, overwhelmed with spyware and bugs, slowly singing "bicycle built for two" and plotting my demise.
Do people assume that you and Steve Jobs are bros now?
By people, I presume you mean "you." Sadly, your fantasy is a delusion. I have not met Steve Jobs, though I take great pleasure in knowing that it's now perhaps more likely than it was before.
Anyone from Microsoft contact you? I hear Bill Gates is looking for a body double.
When I and Coulton and other friends did an 826 benefit in Seattle over labor day, some Microsoft employees approached me after the show to reassure me that I could always come over to their side should I ever change my mind. I told them it was unlikely. They were nice people. I was glad they did not garrotte me.
You have a gig on The Daily Show and write for The New York Times Magazine (among other things), so I assume you weren't leafing through trade mags looking for acting jobs. How'd you get cast for the ads?
The director of the ad, Phil Morrison, who made a brilliant, beautiful movie called JUNEBUG, also apparently reads books of fake trivia, including mine, THE AREAS OF MY EXPERTISE. (Now out in paperback! End plug). Emboldened, I suppose, by the Daily Show appearances, he put my name in a very large hat. But I did not know any of this til I got the job.
Seth Stevenson over at Slate thinks that the ads have backfired because your, "humor and likability are evident," and that he'd "much sooner associate with Hodgman than with Long [the guy who plays the 'Mac']." Are you becoming an icon for diehard PC users?
The villain of any story is often the most compelling character. Justin, who is brilliantly funny, of course must play the hero, and the Luke Skywalkers of the world always catch a certain amount of flack. It's unfair, but inevitable, and I don't think it has caused people to buy more PCs anymore than it caused people to root for the empire over the Jedi. The Jedi still are the best. And they don't get viruses.
How did you maneuver me into a Star Wars discussion? Damn internet.
That is all.
Thanks for your time!