T.J. Miller who has starred in “Silicon Valley,” “Deadpool” and the “Emoji Movie” is bringing his comedy show to campus as a part of Weeks of Welcome on Aug. 30. The Mercury interviewed T.J. Miller to learn more about his rise to fame and preparation for the comedy show at UTD.
Q. How did you get your start in the entertainment industry?
Well, I think I have a modicum of talent. I just worked harder than anyone else. I was really lucky that in college I was part of a comedy group that did sketch and improv, you know not stand up but video. We did all kinds of components in comedy and that taught me early on to work as hard as you can. We would rehearse from 10-midnight four nights a week, which is huge in college. So because we would do that, I just started to understand that the harder you worked, the more you would solidify the fact that you were successful.
Then, and this has obviously served me very well, I also got to a point where I realized the more discipline you engage in the more likely you are to find success statistically. So i got really into doing sketch, stand up, voiceover, acting lessons, coaching improv, and the list kind of goes on and on.
Q. When did it occur to you that you made it in the entertainment industry?
Well I don’t know if that’s come yet. There’s not really a moment where I’ve felt like “Whelp, I made it.” People are always like, “What was your big break?” Everybody’s been saying my big break is whatever I am doing at the time since I don’t know when. Transformers 4 they were like “this is your big break,” after that Deadpool they said “this is your big break,” then Silicon Valley they said “this is your big break.”
I think lately in the last year or two I really understood that I am becoming very famous. And it’s been weird to feel like my wife and I can’t have certain conversations in public, if I go outdoors I just have to know that I am going to be approached. So I am at a level where fame is very intrusive and difficult to navigate. I am very thankful for all the success of course.
Q. What did you study in college before you knew where you’d be today?
I studied psychology with a concentration in persuasion theory and social influence, and I had a minor in theater. I knew I wasn’t going to be a theater actor, so to have a theater major would be sort of a waste.
Q. What’s your process for getting ready for a show, such as the UTD Comedy Show?
I’m slowly in New York building new material that is strong enough, I’m not going to do my HBO special you know. I’m mixing strong stuff from that (HBO Show) with new stuff that’s strong enough so people are like “Ah, yeah this is great!” and it’s not just the same material. So it’s just honing everything that I’m going to present and hoping that it’s great, and also going with how everybody feels that night. I’m trying to really make it about that night so there will be a lot of improvising, and I will know a lot about the school beforehand.
I’d love to do what what you and I just did and everybody in college does, which is the whole “What’s your major?” question. I understand because (students are) really kind of bumbling and bumping around in their young adult life trying to figure out what they’re gonna do, it’s the weird funny time where you’re not at home, and you need to talk to your parents for money, it’s strange. So things like what it’s like to be a college student and asking people about their major to keep it interactive with the crowd. I think I’ll have questions about Texas in general as well. I’ve got a pretty funny joke right now about Texas I might close with, but they might tar and feather me and run me out on a rail.
Q. If there is any particular goal you have for the future?
I don’t spend much time thinking about any one particular goal, that makes it easier to achieve [laughs]. What I’d like to do is stand up while at the same time writing movies I star in, that would be my idea. I have this series of films I want do called the Nihilist, about this character named Niles that’s a Nihilist, I think that would be really fun. Otherwise, I kind of did everything. I was in Yogi Bear 3D, I’ve done the Emoji Movie. I’m kind of done you know? I’d love to just keep making comedy people are really excited by, so yeah!