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Jonathan Coulton talks mustaches, beards and ‘The Hitler’ • Brooklyn Paper

Jonathan Coulton talks mustaches, beards and ‘The Hitler’

“Quirky” pop tunesmith Jonathan Coulton is a spiritual heir to They Might Be Giants and Fountains of Wayne.
Photo by Bess Adler

There was a lot of hair at this interview.

On my right was John Flansburgh, one of the two Johns that make up the legendary quirk-rock duo, They Might Be Giants, who is now sporting a bushy goatee that resembles the facial hair worn by Jennifer Miller, the bearded lady of the Coney Island Sideshow (but it looks great on him!).

On my left was Jonathan Coulton, sporting the full lumberjack — a David Crosby-esque mustache and a rust-colored Joachin Phoenix covering the rest of his face.

And of course, there was me — bearded, but not convincingly so as far as Coulton was concerned.

“You just started growing that, right?” he said, mocking my 46-year effort to grow facial hair befitting my advanced age.

The discussion was relevant given Coulton’s new song, “The Stache,” a tribute, if you will, to a teenager’s first attempt to grow a mustache and the fantasy of attractiveness that overtakes him (“I’m rocking the stache!”).

Coulton: It’s about being young in high school and having discovered a style thing that was awesome and would be a shield that would protect me against any possible trouble. But when you look back, it was not awesome.

Kuntzman: When I met my wife, I only had a mustache.

Flansburgh: So she fell in love with a man with a mustache?

Kuntzman: That’s unclear. I grew the beard because she didn’t like the mustache along, though I felt I was rocking the stache in a 1970s porn star sort of way.

Flansburgh: But was it the ’70s?

Kuntzman (crestfallen): No.

Coulton: You have a very strong chin and jawline. That is what you need to rock the stache.

Kuntzman: You did not mention my cheekbones, which are exceptional.

Coulton: Yes, you do have nice features. I have a rounded bushy area under here, so I benefit from the shaping that you get from a beard.

Kuntzman: Was the song autobiographical?

Coulton: I only had a mustache once, when I was shaving it off to remind myself what my face looked like. But along the way, you say, “Oh, here’s what I’d look with lamb chops. Here’s what I’d look like with a fu manchu.”

Kuntzman: Did you do “the Hitler”?

Coulton: I did. Of course! You have to try “the Hitler.”

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