Mr. Misinformation: John Hodgman

Photo: Jan Cobb

Daily Show regular, Mac pitchman (he plays PC Guy), movie star (okay, a bit part in Baby Mama), John Hodgman is also a best-selling fake-memoirist, including this month’s More Information Than You Require, his second of three volumes of fabricated trivia. Mark Byrne spoke with the bard of hyperbole.

To paraphrase John McCain, who is the real John Hodgman?
I’m a personality—like a George Plimpton who effectively plays himself in a bunch of different roles, or a Paul Lynde–type character. I would be good for maybe not the center square but an upper square on Hollywood Squares.

How did you get into the fake-expertise business?
It started with answering questions about publishing in my McSweeney’s column, “Ask a Former Professional Literary Agent.” By the end of it, I was writing on any possible subject. You know, dating. As someone who’s only dated two people and is married to one of them, it’s not something I know anything about. But at that point I had already become a freelance writer, so I knew how debased the coin of expertise really is.

Why are you writing only three fake books? After all, fake information is limitless.
Yes, but there’s a limit to how much I’m able to pin down before I evaporate and go to nirvana. And, as a geek, I’m a fan of trilogies.

More Information Than You Require
Dutton, $25.

Mr. Misinformation: John Hodgman