This is the voice of Jonah, the manager of musician, puppeteer, devout Christian and unlikely comedy star David Liebe Hart. Our interview was supposed to start ten minutes ago, but the main man is nowhere to be found.
Like a lot of weirdos of my generation, I first discovered Hart’s work through Tim And Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, the psycho sketch comedy horror series on Adult Swim that kicked down the doors for a new wave of alternative comedy. Without Tim And Eric there’d be no Portlandia, no Zach Galifianakis, no BoJack Horseman, and of course, no David Liebe Hart. Hart’s regular segments came across like children’s TV by way of David Lynch – long, bizarre, public-service-announcement-type songs informing people about email or alien races. Hart was always a highlight, always hilariously offbeat, and always accompanied by one or more large puppets.
“OK, he’s in a restaurant,” Jonah updates me. “They won’t let him stay in there without eating something, so he’s just ordering a sandwich. Then he’ll call you.”
These spontaneous journeys are par for the course Hart’s life, as I’ll learn when he eventually calls back (in about 20 minutes). Here is a man whom adventure seeks out – or so it seems. He has been taken aboard an alien spaceship and visited distant planets. He has had experiences with the occult. A long-time LA fixture, he has appeared in classic sitcoms such as The Golden Girls, and his regular busking gig outside the Hollywood Bowl resulted in his casting as a cult figure on the coolest comedy network, Adult Swim. In April this year, he’ll be adventuring to Sydney as part of an Australian tour. The puppets are coming too.
When Hart finally calls, he has one thing on his mind.
“What’s the time in Australia right now?” I tell him. “That’s a 19-hour time difference. I put my phone number on my website and I get calls from Australian fans at three, four, five AM some nights. You gotta tell them to look at the time difference!”
I don’t know if he’s being rhetorical, or literally asking me to tell these people. Either way, I say I will. Interviewing Hart is like talking to a hurricane. He’s quick, passionate about everything, and definitely hilarious – only you’re never entirely sure how much of it is for real, and how much is just hot air.
“I love Australia,” begins one excited run. “I love the people. I love your trains. I love Olivia Newton-John, I’ve always wanted to sing with her. I love Samantha Armytage on Sunrise. Ever since I first saw her I knew she was an outstandingly talented woman. She reminded me of my ex-wife.”
On his first tour here in 2015, Hart stumbled upon a unique format for his shows. By using different local bands as his backing group, alongside video projections, his stream-of-consciousness monologues and (yes) the puppets, a Hart show feels like some sort of punk children’s entertainment – like if Sesame Street were set in a worse neighbourhood.
“I want to have a kangaroo puppet and a koala puppet for the kids,” he says. “I want to start doing TV shows and movies in Australia. I’d like to work with Crocodile Dundee and Samantha Armytage. You need to tell the Australian industry I’m ready.”
Again, I don’t know if he means me personally, but again, I agree to help. And I mean it! I’m a fan, and I’m keen to see what he’s bringing to our shores in a couple of months.
“I got new songs I’m very excited for you to hear. ‘I’m Not A Hoarder’, ‘Space Ranger’. I’ve got one about eating fruit. All my puppets are coming out. Jason the Cat will be there. Chip the Black Boy’s coming.”
Google them. Seriously.
And as excited as Hart is to perform for us, he seems just as happy to get away from the craziness of the US for a few weeks.
“Things are scary over here. People are upset. I got into an argument with a Trump voter at church. I’m not mad at her, I try to see the good in everybody, even in bad people. Plus I have a cousin who looks just like Trump. On my Caucasian side.”
The hurricane is whipping up again. I have no idea what’s real, and what’s for laughs. Hart segues from his cousin/Trump-doppelgänger to the level of UFO activity in the Blue Mountains to an altercation he had with a Hillsong member during his last Sydney visit, before spiralling his way back to his original point.
“I try to see the good in everybody, and that’s why I can’t wait to meet you all at the shows!”
Hart is open to adventures. He hopes to spend time with his fans, explain the time difference to them, and would love to be shown the sights of Sydney by the locals.
“And if you can drive me to church on Sunday, that’d be great too.”
I don’t know if he’s talking to me. He might be talking to you.
David Liebe Hart appears, along with Skull And Dagger, Heavy Lids and Bura Bura, at The Red Rattler, Saturday April 8.