When “Billy on the Street” star Billy Eichner got a chance to interview First Lady Michelle Obama, he did what any other comedian would do. Uh, actually not.
What Eichner did was this: “I had her push me around in a shopping cart while I read Gwyneth Paltrow’s Oscar acceptance speech for “Shakespeare in Love,” which is what you do when you have the first lady on your show.”
The Jewish comic sensation dishes about his humor, growing up gay, and his favorite “Billy on the Street” segment on the staid PBS NewsHour’s series “Brief but Spectacular.”
Eichner, the Emmy-nominated host of the “Street” essentially has made his fortune running through the streets accosting unsuspecting people with pop culture questions.
ON HIS COMEDY
Eichner, 37, says his “Billy on the Street” persona is one of his characters.
“It’s pretty much my id as a 12-year-old kid blown up,” he told PBS
Eichner now says he is the one getting some pretty bizarre requests: “We were filming recently and someone yelled out from across the street ‘Billy, please harass me,’ which is a really strange request.”
ON BEING GAY
“I am gay. And I’m in comedy. I don’t know what to say about it. I was so blind to homophobia as a kid. I grew up in New York. I went to Stuyvesant (High School), a really nerdy math-science school where no one had sex,” said the New York-raised star.
“When everyone asks me, ‘Was it a conscious choice to be out of the closet as a comedian?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know. Was it a conscious choice to be white? I don’t know.’ This is just like what I bring to the table. It’s just not that big of a deal and we all have the same issues.
“My gay married friends with kids are just as boring and annoying as my straight married friends with kids now and I don’t want to hang out with any of them, to be honest.” Ouch.
Our favorite Eichner moment — and his — was the segment where he barrels through the 2012 Super Bowl trying to get the dudes who were there for the game to talk about the reason he was there: Madonna’s over-the-top halftime show.
Here’s a sample of one of his interactions gone awry.
EICHNER: Sir, are you excited about Madonna?
DUDE: No, absolutely not.
EICHNER: Why? She’s the halftime show.
DUDE: She’s an old hag.
EICHNER: You’re an old hag!