David Liebe Hart has been described as an “outsider artist,” and it only takes a few minutes of conversation with him to confirm that he is indeed out there. Best known for his appearances on Adult Swim’s Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Hart’s live performances generally comprise a bizarre blend of puppetry, standup comedy, projected video and original songs, backed by his musical collaborator, Jonah “Th’ Mole” Mociun. Isthmus spoke with Hart in advance of his July 25 performance at the Frequency, at which Beefus (plenty bizarre in their own right), Wood Chickens, Ion and Anthony Siraguse will open. Hart’s responses have been edited significantly for length (and comprehensibility).
Why do you like puppets?
I just enjoyed puppets ever since I was a kid. There were three famous puppeteers who were my Sunday school teachers in the Christian Science church. I had Jim Henson. I had Burr Tillstrom, who did Kukla, Fran and Ollie. [Note: I never got a chance to ask about the third famous Christian Scientist puppeteer Sunday school teacher, as Hart veered off into other topics, mostly railroads.]
A lot of your songs are about ghosts. Do you have personal experiences with ghosts?
I lived in a haunted house on South Ellis Avenue in Chicago, and I got tickled by these dead German shepherd dogs as a kid. I wrote a song about it called “The Pickle Man and Mr. Moose.” ...When we lived in Park Forest, Ill., I had a huge fish tank, and I went to this Christian Science camp called Adventure Unlimited, and my sisters and my mom forgot to feed my frogs, and my frogs all died and they came back as ghosts, and they were very upset that they were not fed and taken care of properly. [At this point the story careens back to railroads, specifically the Erie Lackawanna Railroad in Pennsylvania.]
You also have a number of songs about failed relationships....
It’s been like an airplane crash.... Since I’m part German and Irish and Scandinavian, I have a taste for white women, and the conservative Republican people don’t understand that, and I face persecution in the Christian Science and the ELCA Lutheran church. I was dating this beautiful blond girl from South Africa called Sonya Ruud, and we were very much in love...and they [the Lutherans of Hollywood] brainwashed Sonya Ruud that she’d burn in hell if she married or hung around any black people. I wrote a song called “No More Blues About Sonya Ruud” about trying to love somebody that doesn’t love you.
And I have an experience where I met an extraterrestrial woman that was much in love with me that I met at the La Brea Tar Pits.... She was from Star Korrendor, which is 411 light years away from Earth.... [More discussion of the Korrendians followed. And more talk about railroads. A lot of it.]
Do you think humanity will ever live openly, side-by-side with beings from other planets or galaxies?
They’re already doing it in Australia and Europe. They don’t hide the UFO phenomenon like the Americans do.