Among the many voices weighing in on the Carmelo Anthony trade last week was that of Edgar Allan Poe — or, more accurately, that of 26-year-old comedian Alex Pereira, dressed as the great American literary figure, reading a poem about the Knicks in a clip he uploaded to YouTube. It was the fourth video Pereira had posted of himself musing about the Knicks as Poe — a seemingly random concept that’s proven entertaining in its execution and has attracted attention from a number of basketball blogs. (Pereira even says he upped the production quality once he realized people were actually watching the clips.) Pereira spoke with The Sports Section about his own fandom, some painful Knicks memories, and how the videos came about.
So what’s your background? Are you from New York?
I was born in Queens Village, and I live in Astoria now, so I’ve lived in Queens my whole life. I’ve been a Knicks fan my whole life. I grew up on, I don’t know why, Derek Harper. That’s the first person I really liked on the Knicks, my earliest memories of the Knicks. I’ve just been a Knicks fan since I can remember.
So I guess the obvious question is: Why Edgar Allan Poe?
It’s kind of a mix of things. This season I’ve been thinking about the Knicks a lot, and one day someone mentioned that I kind of look like him, and I started thinking about that more, and I started to realize that a lot of what I think about the Knicks and a lot of what I remember about the Knicks are kind of the saddest memories. Ewing’s missed finger roll. Game 7 against the Rockets when Vernon Maxwell just went crazy, and Starks shot 2-for-18.
I just started realizing that a lot of my biggest memories of the Knicks — Reggie Miller, and the shocking things that really made me remember the Knicks — are a lot of sad things that happened to the Knicks. I don’t really have many great pro-Knicks memories. So I guess Edgar Allan Poe kind of fits — somebody looking back sadly on the Knicks, the way I look back sadly on the Knicks.
What’s your comedy background? Have you incorporated sports into your comedy in the past?
I’ve been doing stand-up now for about eight years. I do improv as well, at small theaters around New York City. It’s the absolute first time I’ve done anything sports-related. I didn’t really expect a big sports reaction, or any reaction. The first couple of videos, I basically just made for a couple of my friends who were Knicks fans, because I like the Knicks, and I wanted to make something about the Knicks. And as reaction on Knicks blogs started to come about, I was just shocked. I guess that’s something I would like to do more of in the future — more sports-related stuff. But up until then, I’d never done anything sports-related.
Is this something you envision expanding beyond videos? Like something you would do live?
It might be tough to do live, since I spend the whole game watching and thinking about if Poe should say something about it. And it takes me a couple hours to write these poems. I think my favorite part about it is I really think about everything I want to say about the game, and piece together the poems.
Once you got the idea of basing something off all the painful memories you’ve had as a Knicks fan, did you consider using anyone else besides Poe, or instead of Poe?
It had to be Poe. I try to, as a comic, to impersonate other people. But it just seemed right to me that Poe was doing this. The interesting thing about the Knicks is whenever I watch Knicks games, they show highlights of, like, the best memories, and it’s always Ewing with his hands up, or Walt “Clyde” Frazier and Willis Reed. And my reaction is always, well, Willis Reed was like 40 years ago, and Ewing is part of some of my worst memories of the Knicks — a lot of failed promises.
There’s definitely something gloomy over the Knicks, even though there’s a lot of positivity every time the Knicks are good. When the Knicks got Marbury, or Larry Brown, there was positivity. And then there’s this, I don’t know, malaise, or just fear. And then eventually doom and gloom. I want good things to happen. But it’s a weird team. The team has constantly high expectations, and there are regularly just some very frustrating losses and frustrating seasons. It makes me feel like Edgar Allan Poe is the perfect person to talk about the Knicks.
In the last video, you mentioned St. John’s. Are you a St. John’s fan (or alum), as well? Might Poe talk more about St. John’s in the future?
Yeah, I’m a St. John’s alum. I was a St. John’s fan even before I went there. And while I was at St. John’s, from ‘03 to ‘06, the basketball program was pretty bad. I went there during this really terrible time, and right when I graduated in ‘06, that was when the floor fell out. I’m excited for St. John’s to be back. But I really believe in specificity, and this was always about the Knicks. Maybe I’ll mention other New York teams, or maybe St. John’s. But I’m just a giant Knicks fan. I wouldn’t be able to put as much passion into talking about anyone else.