Out's 92nd most eligible bachelor is one funny guy. Ever since Billy Eichner started quizzing people on the street, he has become TV's go-to cranky comedian. Whether he's reporting from Madonna's concert for Conan, palling around with Meryl Streep on Watch What Happens Live or voicing a librarian who hates books for Bob's Burgers, Eichner's always scoring laughs. Now he's back with the third season of Billy on the Street in addition to a multi-episode arc as Donna's Eagleton counterpart on Parks and Recreation. Ahead of the BOTS premiere, Eichner sat down with Out to answer the Popnog 10.
Out: Who is the most important person you follow on Twitter?
Billy Eichner: IMPORTANT?! Who’s the most important person I follow on Twitter? I follow so many people. That's a hard question. I can tell you people that I love on Twitter: Julie Klausner, who writes for my show, is hilarious as is Jake Holmes who also writes on my show. In fact, one of the reasons he writes on my show is because I found him hilarious on Twitter. I love Sandra Bernhard. She’s really funny. There are so many people. I mean, Jon Daly is hilarious and also writes for my show but that’s not why I'm mentioning him. Rob Delaney obviously. But who’s the most important? Probably Cher. [She doesn't follow him back. "Why should she? She's busy."]
What's the most outrageous thing you've ever seen on the streets of New York?
I grew up in New York so I've been here a long time. That Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is just a total cluster-fuck. That thing is crazy. I know there are other technically weird things to see on the street like homeless people shouting at each other and mentally ill people on the street and all that. But I really think that a group of 50 adults carrying an enormous balloon while people cheer them on is much weirder.
Is it harder to find people who don't recognize you on the street?
I think we are at a good mix of people who know who I am and people who have no idea who I am. There are a lot of people in the world and they aren't wall watching me on Funny or Die or on Fuse. It allows us to keep doing the show but also feel like people are watching.
How many times have you run around the Flatiron Building?
A lot! A lot! I've burnt a lot of calories running around the Flatiron Building. I don't know why. It was never planned in advance. It was just what happened. The location works well; there is something about that block. Also, Chelsea has a really eclectic mix of people: old people, young people, students, gay guys and families. I like the show to be very diverse. I think that’s something that is really refreshing about BOTS. You see a lot of diversity in every episode. So that neighborhood tends to be good for us. And for some reason there is something about it that you can gain a lot of momentum going around that block.
If there was one person you would want to run up to you on the street who would that be?
I do have this ongoing obsession with Meryl Streep on the show. I went on Watch What Happens Live with her but she hasn't been on the show itself. I would like to see that happen. So whether it’s me running up to her or Meryl running up to me, I would let Meryl take charge. I really would like to have her on the show.
How did the role of Craig on Parks and Recreation come about?
I don't know if they expressly wrote it for me; I've never been told that. Though I didn't have to audition for the part. Last year, I met show creator Mike Schur and Dan Goor in L.A. when I was there editing BOTS. We had a Twitter friendship and they said come hang out with us for a day. It turned out they were fans of mine from back in the day. We had this really nice meeting and it ended on “maybe well do something together some day.” A few months later I get an email from him saying “We might have a part for you.” I don't know if they set out to write it for me. It feels to me like somewhere along the way somebody said “What if Billy Eichner did this” and then maybe they started to write it inspired by my BOTS persona. Although I think it's similar to BOTS in terms of the persona, it’s in such a different atmosphere creatively, aesthetically in every way. It’s really fun to play around with how to be that explosive in an atmosphere where that wouldn't be normal. They have really embraced me, I'm so thrilled to be on that show. When Mike got in touch with me, I thought it would be one episode. I would have been happy to just do one line but I ended up in ten episodes.
Now that you're filming Parks and Recreation in L.A. have you ever thought about doing Billy on the Street on the West Coast?
I've always wanted to shoot elsewhere. Right now, it’s a very New York show and it really relies on the amazing personalities that you run into in the city. However, with that said, I think we're at a point where it would be nice to sort of see how the flavor of another city and the people of another city would effect the energy of the show. Like how would I adapt to that? How do they adapt to me? As for Los Angeles… I love L.A. Actually, I'm a New Yorker so I'm not supposed to say that but I really have been loving L.A. However, I don't know if L.A. is the city I would take BOTS to first just because it’s not a pedestrian city. There is not a lot of energy on the street. There is no city in L.A. There is no core. I'd love to go to Chicago, San Francisco, London, Toronto or anywhere things are really buzzing.
Do you still keep in touch with your friend Robin from your early standup days?
Everyday. Rob was at the premiere of BOTS. I hung out with him all night long. He just got cast as the Penguin in the new Gotham pilot for FOX. It’s a huge thing and we're all very happy. Rob is my best friend going back to Northwestern. My live show was inspired by our friendship to a certain degree. We are like family.
Time to play “Fuck, Marry, Kill” with Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Judi Dench.
Oh boy. Fuck, marry, kill... You definitely fuck Judi Dench because she's having a lot of vision troubles. So you don't have to worry about what you would look like. So that’s good… Then you kill Julia Roberts because everyone secretly wants to. Even though I love her, it's time to go. Then you marry Meryl Streep because you must. I wouldn’t want to have sex with Meryl Streep anyway because I'm not ready. And I certainly wouldn’t ever kill Meryl Streep. So you marry Meryl in what I think would be a lovely, understated but very well thought out ceremony.
What's your spirit animal?
What is my spirit animal?! I think my spirit animal is Elena [the contestant from season 2]. I think she really is. I think we've all got Elena somewhere deep down inside of us. I really think she is there is just something about her. We have this weird chemistry. We're, like, becoming one.
Funny or Die's Billy on the Street returns Mar. 12 at 11 p.m. EST only on Fuse.