You know the guy at the movies who loudly spouts off about what he thinks? That’s Doug Benson—and he’s made a career off of it. Every year, the comedian hosts the “Benson Movie Interruption” at the Traverse City Film Festival, where older features such as Road House come under the fire of his sharp wit. We talked to Benson about his act and the 2016 festival.

Your interrupting bit is unique in the comedy world. What was the inspiration?

“I spent years standing in the back of comedy clubs while I was waiting my turn to go on stage, and I’d make jokes with the other comics while we watched. Eventually I thought, ‘why not make my running commentary part of the show?’ So I did.”

In your original show, “The Benson Interruption,” you would heckle upcoming standup comedians. What prompted you to start the “Benson Movie Interruption” and shift your act toward movies?

“A very cool movie theater in Los Angeles asked me if I wanted to present a film or do stand-up but I thought it would be fun to makes jokes during a film as it has unspooled. I thought it should be completely improvised and that I wouldn’t interrupt bad movies exclusively.”

Most people get annoyed by loudmouthed interjectors at the movies. What do you think makes your particular act so popular?

“I think people like it because of the spontaneity of it and the added level of entertainment.”

What’s your favorite film that you’ve lampooned in the “Benson Movie Interruption?”

“Probably something with Tom Cruise in it. Because the man makes movies that are very entertaining on their own, but are just silly enough to give me and the other comics stuff to work with. We did Top Gun at the TCFF one time, and boy was that a lot of fun!”

What films are you anticipating most at the festival this year?

“Honestly, I’m just going to show up and watch movies that I know little or nothing about and just go for the ride. Michael and the folks he works with have excellent taste in movies. I just trust them and buckle up for something great.”

What draws you back to the festival every year? Do you plan to keep coming back?

“I keep coming back because I honestly love it. You’re probably sick of hearing this, but the people of Traverse City are very nice and the weather at the end of July is perfect.”

When you’re not interrupting, performing, or podcasting, what do you like to do at the festival? 

“Drink! Ha, just kidding. But the main thing I’ll be doing is seeing movies. I think I’ve seen as many as six movies in one day at TCFF.”

Outside of the festival, what’s your favorite thing to do in downtown Traverse City? Do you interrupt people outside of the festival?

“I leave everybody alone. Especially the Greenpeacers. Best place to meet me, if meeting me is something you want to do, is to catch me between movies at U & I Lounge.”

What’s your favorite Traverse City movie theater?

“The State is straight up my favorite movie theater anywhere. I’m so excited to see more movies there!”


Filmgoer 2016



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Photo(s) by Gage Skidmore