Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Jason Mantzoukas' quarantine vibe is part feral art collector, all Mantzoukas

Jason Mantzoukas
Jason Mantzoukas
Screenshot: Late Night With Seth Meyers

For his second remote interview segment on Thursday, Seth Meyers threw to an empty screen. Well, it was a nondescript kitchen, watched over only by a pair of vaguely unsettling paintings. Soon enough, however, Meyers was treated to the sight of eventually revealed guest and scene-stealing all-star Jason Mantzoukas, striding into and out of Zoom-frame with the sort of triumphant fist-pumps most of us make whenever we turn on a movie or TV episode and see that Jason Mantzoukas is in this one.

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“That’s right—boom!,” Mantzoukas exploded upon making his grand entrance, with the signature Mantzoukas energy listeners to his How Did This Get Made? podcast know well from his similarly bombastic, “What’s up, jerks?!” introductory catchphrase. Finally settling down enough to watch a clip of him being inimitably Jason-like in HBO Max’s animated series Close Enough, Mantzoukas greeted Meyers’ presentation of a roster of some of his most well-known animation avatars with a knowing nod. “They all seem to be some version of a shirtless, crazy person,” marveled Mantzoukas, not without pride. And why would anyone look at the live-action Jason, with his signature (but more so) mane of unruly hair and pandemic beard and think that? “I’m going for a full circle of hair and beard,” Mantzoukas told Meyers, in no way looking at this point like one of the frizzier Muppets come to alarming life. (Animal or Sweetums, maybe, or perhaps Electric Mayhem trumpet player, Lips.)

As to whether he’s been weathering the pandemic isolation well, well, that’s for viewers to decide. Noting that “I haven’t left my goddamned house in a year!,” in the traditional Manztoukas manner (boomingly enthusiastic, with just a touch of mania about the eyes), the Big Mouth star himself boasted, “I have lost my mind!” Apart from doing his remote voice acting work during that time, Mantzoukas did present some evidence to that conclusion, introducing Meyers to those paintings decorating his kitchen, a product of the actor’s lockdown pastime of bidding of weird shit on Ebay.

Showing off the painting of a woman he calls “Peggy,” Mantzoukas told Meyers her unnerved expression screams, “Gary, are you painting me again?,” and that sort of checks out. Then there’s the one of the adorable little blonde child with the sort of staring, outsized, shark-dead eyes that would make Margaret Keane run screaming into the night. There’s the used trophy he bought, inexplicably celebrating someone’s seemingly mundane family milestone, and the enormous, terrifying crying infant mask that Mantzoukas claims is the only thing big enough to cover his entire, hirsute melon. Look, you have to have a hobby these days.

The second season of Close Enough is on HBO Max now.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.