After he threw a pajama party for a sold-out Granite State Room on Wednesday, April 27, actor and director Matthew Gray Gubler sat down with me for a brief and incredibly charming question and answer session.
TNH: First of all, are you aware that you are actually the nicest person in existence?
MGG: Oh, no. Thank you for saying that, though.
TNH: Most people wouldn't wait around for two hours to meet 600 or 700 college kids.
MGG: If they're waiting, I'm waiting. I would demand on out-waiting anybody.
TNH: You said that this is your first time doing anything on stage; is that true?
MGG: Somewhat true. I mean, it's my first time doing like, an evening of anything. I've been in plays in high school and stuff like that, but I've always wanted to sort of self-generate. I'm jealous of my friends like Steve that are in bands, and they're like, "We make something and then we go out and perform it!" As an actor, you're kind of trapped in this world of, "Oh, someone writes something and if I'm lucky I get put in it and I go out and I say those words." I've always had this dream of being able to do something like that. It's hard for an actor, so this was like an absolute, wonderful, dream-come-true and a great opportunity.
TNH: What made you decide on UNH?
MGG: They called and asked! My agent called and was like, "Do you want to do some public spea—" and I was like, "Yup!" And he's like, "You didn't let us finish." And I said, "No, that's great." I got to do this thing for this filmmaker, John Waters, where he had me introduce him at this comedy event that he was doing and that sort of went really well, and I was like, "Oh, I'm so jealous." He does like an hour-long show, sort of similar to this, and I was like, "Oh, what a cool guy," and then two days later, they called. UNH called and it was like, "Oh my gosh! They read my mind."
TNH: How did you go about coming up with material to present at something like this?
MGG: Thanks, you know, I don't know! I like challenges and basically, I said yes not knowing what I was gonna do and then I sort of started thinking about it. I just went through my life and kind of thought of some interesting stories that I thought might relate. And then the sort of nunchuck thing popped in there and then I got the idea to do the nunchuck thing. Then I was like, well I love telling ghost stories, but I've always been nervous to do it in big groups because I wasn't sure how it would translate. Ghost stories are so good when there's like six people. Can you do it with— so part of it was like an experiment to see, and I think it went pretty well. It's hard to say.
TNH: What was the general reaction that you got from people you met after the show?
MGG: I think they loved it, unless they were lying. They were very good liars if they were.
TNH: How did you come up with the pajama party thing? Where did that come from?
MGG: You know, that was sort of built out of— I love slumber parties and I love fun and it kind of, to me, in a weird way, was a way to deal with the fear of like "I'm doing some speaking" and it was called a "lecture." I'm like, "Oh, damn, a lecture? I'm not qualified to lecture. What am I qualified to do? I'm qualified to have a pajama party." I'm also really big into performance art, if that makes any sense, and like Andy Kaufman, and I thought "College kids don't want to go to a damn lecture. College kids, what do they want to do? Pajama party!" It was a fun way to make it more of a party and less of a talk. Talks are boring.
TNH: So you panicked a little bit when you were told that you were lecturing?
MGG: I absolutely panicked. Especially when it was called a lecture and I was like, "I don't know what to talk about." I thought about doing a lot of weird things. I was going to try to actually go Andy Kaufman style, a little bit. "I'll just read a book! I'll just read Moby Dick!" And then I was like, "No, I want to be an entertainer. People deserve to be entertained."
TNH: Were you surprised at the turnout tonight?
MGG: I was. It never fails to amaze me. I'm lucky to have truly the best fans in the universe. There's always that fear in the back of your head. When I was preparing for this, I was like, "It's going to be a roomful of frat boys that don't like me!" But then as I got out there I was like, "Oh my gosh! Everyone here is lovely and they want to be here! They're not being forced to be here." It makes my job a lot more fun and easy.
TNH: One of the things that you mentioned is that you were always the "weird kid" growing up. That seems to have worked out for you.
MGG: I made a career out of it, yeah!
TNH: How do you feel about that now?
MGG: I love it. I love it, man. I wasn't— I don't know how to explain it. For whatever reason, the environment that I was very small in was sort of filled with people that valued different things. They valued football and things that I just thought were kind of foolish, maybe? Seeing a guy throw a ball doesn't really interest me. I kind of like people who make things or do things or change things or go out of the boundaries. To me, the weird kids were always the most interesting kids. My friends that were weird growing up all started doing really well, like that band The Killers, and one of my actor friends. I'm lucky that a lot of the people who sort of drive distances to see me talk also have that feeling of being a pariah. It's kind of nice when you're in a community of that, you're no longer a weird kid. You're part of something special and I'm happy to be part of them.