A conversation with an interesting Portlander
In two weeks, auGi Garred (along with writer Slash Coleman) will premiere his latest autobiographical show, 'Big Plastic Heroes,' at the local Fertile Ground Festival. It's about Garred's teenage decision to become Rambo. At last year's festival, Southwest Portland resident Garred performed another autobiographical show, Sexy Nurd. There seems to be a theme here.
Portland Tribune: You've done standup and improv. What's the single biggest laugh you've gotten?
auGi: We're all judgmental so the audience has a question in their head as soon as you come onstage. If you can answer that question they will love you. I know I'm nerdy looking, so my opening joke was, 'No, I can't fix your computers.'
I just read nerd. I try to be cool. I grew my hair out really long when I was younger because I thought I could be Sting, and frosted my hair blond which actually turned out more like hunter's orange, the stuff they wear so deer don't shoot them.
Tribune: You may not have that exactly right, but I know what you mean. Is it just the hair that makes you look nerdy?
auGi: I think it's my face. I think it's my forehead. When I was in Los Angeles, I thought I was cool. Seriously. And I got this agent and thought, 'Cool, I'm going to go out on (auditions for) ads for Budweiser and whatever's cool. And I go to my first audition and it is a room full of guys that look like Woody Allen. It's a commercial for Dairy Queen and I end up in a room wearing a giant tomato and I have to wrestle a head of lettuce.
Every one after that was the same, 'Oh, this time you're the anal retentive butterfly for Microsoft.' Or, there was one for gellin' for Dr. Scholl's. All these cool guys are in a room and I'm the nerdy guy who pops up and says, 'I'm gellin' like Magellan.'
Tribune: But at heart are you a nerd?
auGi: That's the whole idea of Sexy Nurd. There's this conflict between the part of me that's nerdy, like, I love Rush and Star Wars, and then there's the other half of me that's a stud.
Tribune: A wooden 2-by-4? How many hours a week do you work?
auGi: Ninety. I have a day job as a creative director and by night I'm Sexy Nurd.
Tribune: It's hard to be sexy if you're working 90 hours a week. And, by the way, in your printed material you spell nerd wrong.
auGi: 'Nurd' is in the dictionary. It's a slang version. Here's the real reason we chose that: I don't care about spelling. Wait, I'm anal. I love spelling. However, in this instance, because I'm a guy who does branding by day, it's ownable. It's unique. And also, it was available on Twitter. Sexy Nerd was taken.
Tribune: OK, but then why do you spell your first name auGi?
auGi: I'm a designer, too. When I moved to LA, I designed a logo for myself. I was producing a show at the Improv and one of the headliners was ANT and his publicist sent over this document, all the ways we had to address ANT, and it stood out to me. So I started signing everything auGi and then people started asking me that question all the time.
Tribune: What was your genuinely coolest moment?
auGi: There are so many. Part of my Sexy Nurd show is, I get to play some of my songs. A couple weeks ago at the end of the show I was playing this song and the whole audience was singing along with me.
Tribune: That felt cool?
auGi: Oh yeah. Some people came up to me after the show and said, 'You were a rock star.'