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Saturday, December 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 27.0° F  Light Snow Fog/Mist
The Daily
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Angus MacAbre looks forward to Halloween in Madison
An interview with this night of the living dead comedian from Scotland
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Angus MacAbre poses with Donn o'The Dead, 'Ireland's funniest vampire comedian.'
Credit:Doug Gordon

Angus MacAbre bills himself as Scotland's funniest zombie comedian. Nobody with any brains is about to argue the point, are they now? Not in Madison. Not with Angus MacAbre lurching about the vicinity in his kilt.

But if you were to argue the point -- and we're not suggesting you should, mind you, only speaking in hypotheticals here -- you might have an opportunity to do so this Halloween, on the night of Oct. 31, when Angus MacAbre is scheduled to perform at Dane 101's Halloween Rock-n-Roll Extravaganza and costume party at the High Noon Saloon.

Not that we're suggesting Angus MacAbre's kilt is any kind of a costume! Nobody with any brains would suggest that. Nope. All we're saying is that Angus MacAbre will be among the featured attractions that night, along with: The Gomers, in a revival of The ZomBeatles; The Dorothy Heralds and Better Off Deads in a dramatic re-enactment of The Clash vs. Madonna; an exhumation of The Misfits featuring members of Cuts Like Drugs and The AstroZombies; a disinterment of The Ramones featuring members of Something to Do, The Shabelles and Aunt Goodness; and a resurrection of The Velvet Underground by members of Midwest Beat and The Grizzlies. All that plus costume contests and prize drawings for guests who donate nonperishable food items for Second Harvest Food Bank.

And by "prize drawings for guests..." we don't think they mean that in the way some might misinterpret the phrase, i.e. Angus MacAbre picking brains out of a hat. The festivities get underway at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31, at High Noon Saloon. The cover charge is $7, with a portion of proceeds going to Second Harvest. And this is a 21+ event. Sorry, kids: Your brains are not yet ripe enough to suit the palate of Angus MacAbre.

Iin anticipation of the Big Night, Wisconsin Public Radio producer Doug Gordon was gracious enough to answer a series of questions posed by The Daily Page in his persona of the undead comedian. Not that we're suggesting that Angus (or Doug) is not always that gracious! Nobody with any brains would propose such a thing.


The Daily Page: What can the audience expect from your appearance on Halloween at the High Noon Saloon?
MacAbre: They can expect the unexpected, including some of my finest, and freshest, undeadpan comedic riffs. I may wax political a bit, I'll certainly be topical. I plan on staying away from the standup comedy clichés that other zombie comedians have run into the ground (e.g. "What is the deal with eating people who eat airline peanuts?" and "What is the deal with eating that guy, Jared, from the Subway commercials?"). I can't believe that certain zombie comedians (or "zomedians," as others might call them) are still recycling these tired and trite riffs. I know we want to be environment-friendly but, come on!

Of course, I'll give PETP (People for the Ethical Treatment of People) the gears for trying to put the kibosh on my modest proposal for preventing riffraff from ruining Freakfest on State Street.

I may also do some bits with Ireland's funniest vampire comedian, Donn O'The Dead. Perhaps Donn and I will reprise our old 'Who Ate It First?" routine. Or perhaps not. I may even throw in a bit of "scarioke," my decidedly demented take on the karaoke craze.


Some people have labeled you a zomedian, others a zombie comedian. Which is more accurate, and which do you prefer?
I don't like either. What kind of a society are we living in where everyone has to have a friggin' label? Labels are for canned goods and perhaps for people competing in beauty pageants. I'm a zombie who happens to be a comedian. We don't say that Jerry Seinfeld and Lewis Black are human comedians, do we? At least, I don't. This is yet one more example of the kind of prejudice that we zombies face on a daily basis. Thankfully, organizations like ZAPT, Zombies Are People Too (At Least We Used to Be), are working hard to change this.


The event is a benefit for Second Harvest Food Bank, and those who attend are encouraged to bring a nonperishable food donation to contribute. What nonperishable food item might you donate to Second Harvest?
Ann Coulter.


Where were you and what were you doing when you first hit on your ambition to become Scotland's funniest zombie comedian? How long did it take you to achieve your goal, and how difficult was it?
I was doing an Edinburgh Fringe Fest show -- a production of Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh: On Ice! It was a very warm day and the ice was melting. The Zomboni (Zombie Zamboni) driver was experiencing a meltdown of his own (pun pretty much unavoidable) and was drowning his sorrows in McEwan's. There were only four people in the audience. I figured there's gotta be a better way to make a living than this.

So I decided to hell with it and pursued my dream of writing and starring in my own one-man show, "Vince Zombardi" (a tribute to my all-time favorite football coach, Vince Lombardi). Unfortunately, that didn't go over too well in Scotland... not enough Packers fans, plus they've got their own kind of football. So I brought the show over to Wisconsin... toured the state with it... great reviews, made a bit of money. But I noticed that people were laughing more than they were crying so I thought, "Let's give this standup comedy thing a try." Six years later and here I am.


The title of Scotland's funniest zombie comedian implies that Scotland has at least one other zombie comedian. How many zombie comedians does Scotland have? And how does that rank compared to the number of zombie comedians in other nations around the world?
To be honest with you, I'm not sure how many zombie comedians (or "zomedians," as some would call them) there are in Scotland. Since emigrating here, I don't keep up with 'em as much. But I believe there are at least 1,313 of 'em. It depends, of course, on whether or not you include the gimmicky prop comedians such as "Haggis Head" ("Scotland's answer to Carrot Top," as he bills himself). Of course, as a comedic artist, I don't include him.

Re. how the rank of zombie comedians (or "zomedians," as some would call them) in Scotland compares to the number of zombie comedians in other nations around the world... I'm no statistician… or should I say, a zombie statistician, since that's how the media would label me but... I think there are more of us Scottish zombie comedians/zomedians than in other countries... per capita, speaking. I know for a fact that Ireland has more vampire comedians than zombie comedians, such as Donn O'theDead, Ireland's funniest vampire comedian.


How do Scotland's zombie comedians handle hecklers in the audience?
It depends on the zombie comedian/zomedian. Hacks like Haggis Head say things like, "If ye don't shut yer pie hole, I'll give ye a bagpipe enema." That's a wee bit too crude and confrontational for me. I like to be a wee bit more subtle. I'm reluctant to give away any of my heckler putdowns because I think I'm gonna need 'em on the 31st. I'm sure there'll be a bunch of namby-pambies from PETP in attendance to try and ruin my show.


What does a zombie comedian from Scotland wear under his kilt, eh?
To quote Lennon and McCartney, two of my favorite non-Scottish songwriters: "I can't tell you but I know it's mine." Or as I sometimes say in my act while pointing suggestively to my kilt, "I'll bet you ladies wouldn't mind giving this caber a toss now, would you? And there's only a thin layer of fabric separating you from me caber."


What is your first memory of brains?
I remember watching The Wizard Of Oz when I was just a young zombie lad. When the Scarecrow was singing "If I Only Had A Brain," I couldn't understand why he was blathering on about wiling away the hours and conferring with the flowers. Even at that young age, I knew that if I only had a brain, I wouldn't be hungry again for a few hours.


What is the best brains dish you've ever enjoyed at a restaurant? Which restaurant served it, and who were you dining with?
I had a really great 'Cerebal Cortex Casserole" with "Pituitary Gland Pesto" at this trendy bistro in Manhattan called "To Serve Man" a couple of years ago. It was to die for. I was dining with zombie film-maker, George A. Romero. We were discussing the possibility of doing a zombified version of "Weekend at Bernie's." Alas, scheduling conflicts and the lack of a solid script have prevented us from pursuing this. But who knows? Maybe some day.


When you prepare brains at home, how do you prefer them?
Raw, sushi-style.


In terms of delicious flavors, how do brains compare to haggis? And what is the best dish you've ever tried that had both brains and haggis among its ingredients?
For the most part, brains taste better than haggis... but, of course, it depends on whose brain you're eating. I've never had a chance to sample Stephen Hawking's brain but I reckon that it would extremely succulent and satisfying. Maybe some day. Hope springs eternal.

I hate to sound like a shill but the best dish I've ever tried that had both brains and haggis among its ingredients is my new monster cereal, "Angus MacAbre." It's brain-flavored cereal with just a hint o'haggis. And it's got those other monster cereal mascots, Count Chocula, Frankenberry and Boo Berry, running scared.


Which condiments best complement brains?
I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to condiments; I still like tartar sauce and just a dash of Worcestershire sauce. I think that these condiments really bring out the tangy taste of the brain, as well as the salty overtones. Mind you, a lot of the trendier zombies are eating their brains with salsa and guacamole but these are the same doofuses who think Haggis Head is funny.


Aren't you afraid of contracting Mad People Disease?
No but I am a tad worried about contracting 'Miffed Mutton Disease" from a haggis prepared in the stomach of a ship that has contracted this deadly disease.


What brand of ale or Scotch do you prefer as a chaser for brains? And to what degree do your own tastes reflect those of other zombies who enjoy refreshing beverages?
McEwan's Scotch Ale is my chaser of choice. I think that my tastes do not reflect those of other zombies. Most other zombies are 'brain-dead,' if you don't mind my using the expression. They stay away from the ale and the Scotch and instead knock back an endless series of "zombies" (the very strong cocktails made of fruit juices, liqueurs and rums). That's just too self-referential and narcissistic for me.


Have you ever gotten drunk enough to talk with your mouth full of brains? And if so, were you speaking in a Scottish Gaelic dialect or the Queen's English?
Yes, I'm ashamed to admit that I have gotten drunk enough to talk with my mouth full of brains on more than one occasion (and less than 79). I was so friggin' wasted, I can't remember whether I was speaking in a Scottish Gaelic dialect or the Queen's English. According to friends, it was a little bit of both, as well as some Esperanto and Pig Latin.


How do you feel about zombie jokes, like the popular recent one involving the Zombie, the Irishman and the Yank who walk into a bar?
I reckon I feel the same way about zombie jokes that you feel about human jokes... assuming, of course, that you cannot get enough of them. Back in the day, I told a lot of zombie jokes.. I'm curious about this popular recent one involving the zombie, the Irishman and the Yank that you referenced in your question. Is this the one with the punchline, "The Aristocrats?! I thought you said 'The Aristocats'!"


How did you come to find yourself caught up in a controversy involving People for the Ethical Treatment of People? What effect has the controversy had on you?
I should have known you'd ask about PETP. They just jumped on the Angus media bandwagon after I unveiled my modest proposal for preventing riffraff from ruining this year's celebration on State Street. You know how these special-interest groups are always trying to get their share of media coverage, by any means necessary.


Have you competed in Scotland's Highland Games -- or attended as a spectator? Either way, which event is your favorite -- and why is it your favorite?
No, I have not competed in Scotland's Highland Games, nor attended as a spectator.

But I did attend Scotland's Highland Extreme Zombie Games (Scotland's Highland X-Z Games is what we refer to 'em as) last summer. My favorite event was the 'Paul Haggis Throw," in which the participants competed to see who could throw Oscar-winning film-maker Paul Haggis the farthest, just after he'd eaten a couple of pounds of haggis. I'm surprised Haggis didn't suffer brain damage from that event! Some of the zombies could really throw him.


Who was your favorite character in the first Highlander movie -- and why?
Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez (Sean Connery). I saw a lot of myself in him... but that could be because I was sitting pretty close to the TV when I watched the video… you know, that whole reflection thing. Watched it with Donn O'theDead... of course, he couldn't see any of himself in any of the characters because he's a friggin' vampire and they cannot see themselves in mirrors.


What is your favorite song by the 1960s rock group The Zombies?
I've always had a soft spot for "Time of the Season." I used to front a Zombies tribute band called The ZZTombies," in which we performed Zombies songs with ZZTop-style arrangements. We'd also engage in the odd bit of scarioke by changing the lyrics to "Time of the Season" so that it was "Thyme is the Season." We also did a kickass scarioke version of "She's Not There" called "She's Not Rare."


Are you a fan of your fellow Scot, Shirley Manson, the lead singer of Garbage?
I'm a big fan of my fellow Scot, Shirley Manson, the lead singer of Garbage. She's a very appetizing young lass. As a matter of fact, I used to front a Garbage tribute band called "Refuse" but we got tired of people mispronouncing our name as a verb rather than a noun, so we packed it in.


What is the best costume you've ever worn for Halloween?
A cheap knockoff of Bjork's infamous swan dress, the one she wore to the 2001 Academy Awards. Except mine was made with real swans, and so I ended up covered in swan guano (or "swano," as we call it in the old country). Not a pretty sight, allow me to tell ya.


What did your mother and father do for a living?
They ran a zombie vegetarian restaurant called "Lettuce Feed You" in Aberdeen, Scotland. Alas, the restaurant never made a go of it (there's a shock, huh?) and due to various irreconcilable differences, they ended up eating each other.


Do you have siblings?
No, I'm an only zombie.


What would you say is your greatest guilty pleasure?
I really like watching old episodes of the zombified adaptation of that late-70's comedy/drama TV series, Eight is Enough. It's called Eight Is Enough (If You're On Some Kind of A Friggin' Diet). Most zombies think it's too hokey and sentimental but I really like it. I guess being an only zombie, I consider the Zadfords the family I would have liked to have had.


Do you have any hobbies? What about phobias?
Hobbies -- Collecting stamp collectors…You can freeze their brains and they heat up real nice and fresh.

Phobias -- I'm inclined to agree with Franklin Delano Roosevelt: "There is nothing to fear but fear itself." Well, that and this possible "reverse brain drain." That could have a terrible effect on the American economy.


What is your all-time favorite vacation destination?
The Dead Sea


What is your greatest unrealized ambition?
To direct.


What is your all-time favorite movie?
To Kilt a Mockingbird. This low-budget Scottish zombie nature documentary from the mid-60's really made a difference in my life. It taught me that zombie mockingbirds do not like wearing kilts and they won't let you forget it.


What was the last book you read that you would recommend to other Scots zombies -- and why would you recommend it to them?
Zombies and Consciousness by Robert Kirk, published by Oxford University Press. Kirk's argument that "the zombie idea depends on an incoherent view of the nature of phenomenal consciousness" has really raised my consciousness about what it means to be a zombie.


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