In 1957, during an interview with Cosmopolitan magazine, original Tonight Show host Steve Allen famously said, “Man jokes about the things that depress him, but he usually waits till a certain amount of time has passed … Tragedy plus time equals comedy.”
If there’s any truth to that, Jesse Miles would have to wait several millennia to comfortably joke about his life. You know when someone falls down, and you laugh, but kind of feel awful about it? That was Jesse’s every day growing up, only he says that he was the one laughing as well as the one who fell down. Which is the main subject of his comedy and the biweekly podcast he hosts with childhood friends. I asked about it all…
You went to school for video game design, so how did you end up in prosthetics?
Out of college I got a job at a 3D mapping company that basically did what Google Street view does, and since Google is a thing, they went under and laid me and my entire department off. After that I needed a job badly; my uncle suggested I apply at this orthotic company, because the guy is old-school and hated that all of the bright-eyed kids fresh out of college would basically tell him that he’s doing things the old way. So when he sits me down, he says, “I kind of need someone who doesn’t know anything so I can train them my way on the job.” For me, that was perfect because I didn’t know what I was doing most hours of the day. I basically lucked into a medical career.
In such a serious work environment, working with people with horrific injuries, how do you keep the workplace jovial?
Luckily we’re only around patients when we measure and then fit the [prosthesis] to them, so it’s pretty much just me and the other techs most of the day. We try to keep the funny and/or mean jokes from the patients. Like, this one time, a patient with a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) was being a bit difficult, so the boss’ son says, “Dad, just tell him to hit the bricks!” To which my boss replies, “I’m not telling a TBI patient to ‘hit the bricks.’” To which I chimed in, “That’s probably how he got TBI.” Fortunately I’m pretty good at holding my tongue when the patients are actually around.
You come from, let’s call it a diverse family; how has that influenced your comedy?
If by diverse, you mean biracial adopted child of divorce with one of my 3 moms finding substances to be delicious, then yes. I think the way I grew up is why I do comedy today. I’d say most of my comedy includes personal stories about either my upbringing or how the way I grew up affected my questionable decision-making process.
Favorite non-comedy movie that influenced your sense of humor?
I think the movie that had the biggest impact on my sense of humor was Goodfellas. It’s one movie that’s been stuck in my mind for as long as I can remember. I think it was the ability to have horrible things happening and at the same time be utterly hilarious. That balance is something I try to find in my comedy; something horrible is happening, but it’s so funny I can’t help but laugh.
What’s one thing in Boston you would tell a tourist to go to, but you wouldn’t tell your mother to see it?
The duck boats. If you’re not from here, it’s a pretty cool ride to check out, but if you’re from here and above the age of 10 and hop on a duck boat, what are you doing with your life?
EFF/MARRY/KILL: Spiders, Waking Up in Class With No Pants on in the Middle of Test You Didn’t Study for, and Student Loans?
I would marry Waking Up With No Pants on in the Middle of a Test, because who doesn’t love too much Jameson at the DMV? I would kill Spiders… because fuck spiders! And I would eff Student Loans, so at least it would be a two-way street this time.
Most embarrassing nickname growing up?
I didn’t have any growing up, but I do despise the song “Jessie’s Girl,” because people would go, “Oh, like the song?” Now I hate Rick Springfield.
Scale of 1-10, how much do you hate it when someone spells your name with an “I”?
’Bout an 8, honestly it’s one of the few pet peeves I have. I actually had a boss that would spell my name wrong on my paychecks, so every time I went to the bank to deposit them it became a whole thing. I know it’s a small mistake, but every time it happens I want to hum a Dunk’s medium hot regular at them.
What comedian’s performance have you seen that made you the most jealous that it wasn’t you?
I remember I had misplaced jealousy one time when me, my dad, and my brother all went to the Comedy Cellar in New York. I was such a huge fan of New York stand-up comedy and was super excited to see a show in that venue. However, after about the second comic my brother comes back from the bathroom and whispers to me, “I just did coke in the bathroom with a comic I’ve seen on Comedy Central.” I was so jealous, and the worst part is he didn’t even remember the comic’s name. So, I also had to play interference between my dad and younger brother so that nobody was the wiser.
What’s your current music player of choice and what’s the most embarrassing song in it?
Currently my main player is Spotify. I honestly have plenty of embarrassing music on there, but I’d say the most embarrassing is that I have a playlist of Dragon Ball Z theme music.
Follow Jesse’s podcast, Misguided Musings, on Twitter @musingpodcast and at misguidedmusings.com. Or bug him in person at one of these upcoming shows: Penny 4 Your Thoughts, Jan 19 at Jacque’s Cabaret; High Performance Comedy at a secret location on Feb 3; Stand Up at the Green Room in Somerville Feb 8; the People’s Show at ImprovBoston on Feb 11.