PLAYBOY: Your last name is a mouthful. Growing up, did you have a mnemonic device to learn how to spell it?
GALIFIANAKIS: Yes. On Sesame Street there was a song called “Ladybugs’ Picnic” where they counted to 12. My last name has 12 letters, so my mom substituted the numbers for letters. And that is how we learned as kids.
PLAYBOY: You grew up in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, which has a population of just a few thousand. Was it like growing up in Mayberry?
GALIFIANAKIS: Well, the gentleman who whistled the theme to The Andy Griffith Show came to my grade school. He whistled for an hour. Just whistled away. He went to work with no tools, no briefcase, no uniform at all. He just needed his mouth. That’s how he made a living, by whistling. I remember being in awe of him. He really did affect me.
PLAYBOY: You’ve had several unique and bizarre day jobs, from working as a busboy in a strip joint to being a nanny. If you ever retire from comedy, which of your former day jobs would you consider revisiting?
GALIFIANAKIS: I wasn’t good at any of them. I despise strip clubs, and being a nanny is frustrating when the children can beat you up. I would like to be a train robber if this all goes away. Which it will.
PLAYBOY: You were also a waiter at a drag-queen restaurant. How do you look in a dress?
GALIFIANAKIS: I was the only guy not required to dress as a woman. The drag queens did not like me, though. I always thought the way they dressed was so hacky. I feel drag queens are often mocking women. I never thought I would say that last sentence in my life, but I finally did.
PLAYBOY: In comedy sketches, you sometimes play an acting teacher named Tairy Greene who gives surreal and useless advice to his students. What’s your best and worst career advice for aspiring comics?
GALIFIANAKIS: I’m awful at giving advice. I just told someone the other day they should invest in the Von Dutch trucker-hat company. Having said that, my best advice is just to get on stage as much as possible. And my worst advice is that you should listen to me.
PLAYBOY: The jockstrap you wore during one of the opening scenes in The Hangoverhas become legendary. Any chance it’ll end up on eBay someday?
GALIFIANAKIS: EBay? You mean the Smithsonian? You do not put works of historical magnitude such as that up for auction on eBay. No, I don’t have the jockstrap anymore. I think I gave it to my great-aunt for Christmas.
PLAYBOY: You wore a Baby Björn for much of The Hangover, and ever since there’s been a spike in sales for baby carriers. If you could inspire another cultural or consumer trend, what would it be?
GALIFIANAKIS: Ceiling fans for your car.
PLAYBOY: When you hosted Saturday Night Liveyou mentioned in the monologue how much you hate Brooklyn hipsters. But you’re kind of known as a hipster comic. Are you filled with self-loathing?
GALIFIANAKIS: I’m not sure what a hipster is, but if I am one, then I know I don’t like them. I always thought hipsters were the guys with tiny jeans, trust funds and thin bodies who make references to art galleries I’ve never heard of. I see them in my neighborhood and they are too cool. Try saying good morning to them. When someone says good morning to me on the street, I love it.
PLAYBOY: During your stand-up sets you sometimes accompany yourself on piano. Is that your security blanket?
GALIFIANAKIS: I think it became a security blanket for me, and then it became too limiting. I don’t do it as much as I used to. I really don’t know how to play the piano. I’m making it up as I go along.
PLAYBOY:You purportedly hate technology, especially phones, because you don’t like being too easy to get in touch with. Are you trying to become the J.D. Salinger of comedy?
GALIFIANAKIS: I’m on the phone all the time, it seems. But in North Carolina, where I’m from, occasionally there’s no cell coverage, and we don’t have long distance at the house. It frees you. I will never have the courage to do it, but I really would like to get rid of my computer.