Yeah, yeah, yeah—we just did a comedian last week, but you guys, people like comedy. Besides, Ian Harris isn't your average yuk-smith. He's the kind of guy who makes you think. In fact, you could probably regard him more as a lecturer who happens to be pretty funny. You might also call Harris a skeptic, at least insofar as he prefers using science-based facts to write his material. And sure, this could be offensive to some, but for others, it's just the ticket. So what's he so skeptical about and why should we care that he's coming to Skylight on Thursday, March 9 (8 pm. $10. 139 W San Francisco St., 982-0775)? Let's ask him.
Why does the concept of skepticism seem to keep coming up when people talk about you?
I've been a comedian for 24 years, and I've always been a skeptic. But in the last five or six years, I've been doing my comedy all about science, religion and the things that we believe without evidence. Bigfoot, aliens, religion ... the things skeptics tackle on a daily basis. Partly, it's because I think it's funny, but it's also how my brain works. I don't do relationship stuff or talk about my kid; I've made a niche.
That ever get you into hot water with people?
When I do my own shows and it's just me, I'll get people who looked me up or know they're coming to see my stuff. But, when I just do regular shows—like, I did a casino in California recently, and it's a regular casino with regular old people and they're not coming for specifically me, they're coming for comedy—and after shows like that, I'll get a handful of people who take issue and it's almost always with religion. Or they'll come up and try to show me that the cure for cancer is this giant conspiracy and that 2 billion people around the world are all being paid off to keep quiet about it. I've done some stuff on alternative medicine, and I've been sent a few books, and I say, 'I'm not an expert, but I've done a lot of research.' One of my favorite comments is when someone says, 'Man, I've got some reading to do', or when they tell me that I've changed their way of thinking.
OK, so then what's your best joke in your opinion?
It all comes from the same place, but I do like making fun of religion. I won't lie to you—it's fun for me. I find, the older I get and the more I talk about this stuff, the more absurd people's beliefs are to me. I think 'Wow, you really believe there was a dude named Noah who got two of every animal on a boat and he was 6,000 years old?' My mom is a self-proclaimed psychic, and I don't believe in psychics. I think it's ridiculous. But, to me, that's her religion. She's a new-age person, and she's just as religious about the psychic stuff as a Christian is about Christianity, and it's so ingrained in us. It's my favorite topic because it's so intertwined in American culture and so forced on us. And people ask me why I would care about what other people believe, and the truth is that I don't care as long as people don't try to force it on me with legislation. That's something I'm going to talk about until I'm blue in the face.