Douggpound"I was thinking that if it’s not funny, at least it’s something different."
Over the past decade plus, Douggpound (real name: Doug Lussenhop) has quietly left a large mark on culture as a performer, comedian and video editor. His distinctive wild style editing has propelled influential shows like The Eric Andre Show, Portlandia, and Tim And Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!. For his self-proclaimed “Comedy DJ” project DJ Douggpound, Lussenhop blurs the worlds of music, comedy and performance art, regularly touring with alt-comedy legends like Neil Hamburger and Tim And Eric. If that wasn't enough, Doug is currently at work on a new TV show for the Adult Swim network called "Pound Hole." It was my pleasure to speak with an old friend for Sex Magazine. DJ Douggpound: American legend.
So what’s the first thing you ever edited video on?
The first one was in-camera editing with an 8mm video camera that my friend Brian’s dad had. Like, when the tape head would stop, it would roll back a second and I knew it would then start to speed up and actually record, so there’s a little delay.
This was before you went to school for film and video, right?
Yeah. I had no way to really edit anything, to put music on them and stuff. So I would make little two-minute sketches or whatever in high school, just so me and my one friend could watch them.
To entertain ourselves with it, really. As soon as I saw a video camera, I had to start shooting stuff. It was just a fun thing I really wanted to do and my parents never had any of that stuff. My friend’s dad had one and every time I went to his house, I started making videos.
So then you went to school and you started to learn a little bit more formally?
Yeah, well then I went to what do you call it?
Yeah, I went there. I went to College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. I just knew I wanted to do something musical or artistic. But then I got a job while I was in college.
I saw on the job board at school that there was a place called Video Productions, Inc. in Addison, Illinois., which is the most generic name for a company of all time. They did wedding videos and they transferred old movies to video. It was the most basic mom and pop video production place.
What would you do there?
I would shoot wedding videos and edit them. And that’s where I got my first taste of actual editing. They had one edit deck and then one consumer VCR that plugged into it, and they also had a three-quarter inch editing system which is like old-school broadcast quality videotape that they used in the seventies before beta cam came out. So that was kind of cool to start doing that.
What was it like working with all that old school gear?
I think that kind of editing was really good for learning because you really had to make your decisions right the first time. You couldn’t just drag and drop and cut and paste any which way you want. It had to be done linearly. Everything’s not linear now but back then you had to, you know, cut one, then cut two, then cut three... You had to really plan it out, choose your shots, get it right the first time.
What was it like switching to digital?
Once I finally started messing with Adobe Premiere or Final Cut, it was like I had been walking around with cement shoes on. Then sudden somebody smashes them off and it’s like holy shit, it’s so easy to walk. I already knew the space of what shots were gonna go where.
So working in analog was a help?
I don't know, If kids grow up editing on their iPad, it’s probably fine but it did help me going through that progression of technology, going to school when that shit was coming out.
Tell me more about Video Productions Inc.
It was owned by these two weird old guys and they would be smoking weed in the bathroom. That was the first time I saw marijuana, these 50-year-old creep guys. Well, that was before I ever drank or smoked weed or did anything. They were asking me if I could buy weed for them and I was like man, I don’t know. They were like man, kids these days, they’re not cool anymore.
And then we would transfer a lot of the weirdest stuff. I mean, the weirdest people are from the suburbs, you know what I mean? Once the mail man came in and told me, “look at this tape I found in the mail,” and it was one of those homemade pornos... He was like, “you’ve gotta see this, bro.” I put on this tape and I’m just shocked... Like what the fuck? This guy’s laughing his ass off. I’m like... this is disturbing; I don’t want to see this.
What was it?
It was this embarrassing home porno that was not attractive people acting really gross. This was before the internet, too, so I didn’t see porn. I went from like zero to the weirdest suburban mom porn.
How old were you when you first got to L.A.?
What was your first job out there?
I worked at Playboy.
Oh, tell me about that.
Well, my friend worked there already. He was like, “yeah, if you want to move to L.A., now’s a good time. My roommate left and I can probably get you a job at Playboy.com.” So I was like cool, this is a good, I’ve got a gig. I’m all set. So then I went out there. Then the next day, I basically started working at Playboy.com, just editing down soft core porn into little web shorts. I mean it was just brainless editing. It wasn’t even editing, but just like shortening, just shortened videos. Like encode ‘em, put ‘em on their web. It was like really easy stuff. There was a couple times when they gave me an actual porn to edit.
Like hardcore porn?
I did edit hardcore porn. It was gross.
How did you hook up with Tim and Eric?
I was working at Playboy and the boss dude was like, “hey, everybody, I don’t know what’s gonna happen with this department, but if you ever get any other gigs, go for it.” I don’t know if he was thinking we were all going to get fired soon, but that actually finally gave me an excuse to start looking for a job.
Where did you look?
I went on Craigslist and typed in “Comedy TV Show” in the Jobs Wanted. There was a listing that was like “comedy TV show wants an intern.” That's all it said. I emailed in my resume or whatever and then the girl called me back and it was Tim And Eric's assistant.
Had you heard of them before?
No, that was before their show came out. They were working their first cartoon, Tom Goes To The Mayor. So I went in there and I met them and we hit it off. They liked my DVD. I had put a reel together and the internship was like, “I just want you to film everything behind the scenes, just take a little TV camera and just kind of film everything that’s going on behind the scenes and just document.” I wasn’t getting coffee or doing anything like that. It was kind of a cool internship.
It was fun. Tim And Eric were really inspired at that point making their show and they were super psyched and I was glad to be working with dudes like that. We were having a blast all the time, just laughing and screwing around. So that soon turned into a gig. They were kind of understaffed and I would help out. Eventually they hired me.
And then you continued a working relationship with them to the present day.
Oh, yeah. The latest thing I did for them was the Totino’s commercial. Have you seen that?
Yeah, it’s amazing. It feels like everything has gone full circle.
Yeah, exactly. When they first told me about it, I was like are you serious? And they’re like yeah, it kind of makes sense. It’s like this dumb pizza thing, almost like a Cinco product, but it’s a real thing.
It’s like the snake eating its own tail or something.
Yeah, but the tail is really delicious. You microwave it.
Let’s talk DJ Douggpound ‘cause I think it’s something that occupies its own zone in comedy. You’re pretty much the only comedy DJ, it's a lane you almost have to yourself.
Well, that’s why I started doing it. I mean if I was gonna do just comedy, my main concern was do something original. I was thinking that if it’s not funny, at least it’s something different.
I couldn’t just go up there on the mic. If I just tried to do regular stand-up, I would definitely either sound like someone else or be similar to someone else. I didn’t want to be similar to anyone else. And I had nothing as far as jokes go. I just put up the sampler with sound effects.
And that kind of grew organically, right?
Yeah, well I was DJ Douggpound in Chicago when I would DJ. I would just play records.I lived at this space, Heaven Gallery- you’ve been there.
It’s an art space/social hub center where we would have video screenings and events. My other friends would have parties so any time I got a chance, I would just DJ for fun. But even back in those days, I still would try to make it funny. Idid want people to be laughing and dancing at the same time.
Yeah, so the germ of the idea was already there?
It was kind of already there. When I would play, I wouldn’t just keep a 130 bpm house track going. I would try to cut that in half with Christopher Cross or something, put in some TV music here and there.
What's the future of the project?
I’m going to take the leap from the stage to the screen one way or the other or I’ll just quit.
Yeah, so it’s like go big or go home?
The way I work is that I’ll do the DJ Douggpound thing, I’ll come up with some music that I really love to perform, and then I’ll do like five shows but I'll get super sick of it. Then I’ll be like, “I don’t want to do any shows anymore.” Then I’ll do something totally different, like PoundHouse. Then I’ll be like, “oh, I’m so sick of editing these videos, I need to be back performing again.” And I’ll go perform again, do some more DJ Douggpound shit, bring that back to life. Then I’ll get sick of it.
So you’re always jumping around.
Yeah. I wish I didn’t get as sick of it as I do, ‘cause I think if I stuck with it more, I’d probably get a lot more gigs.
I remember when you showed me the bean bag video that would become PoundHouse, It wasn’t really that deliberate, it was just you guys having fun. But it ended up blossoming into a full series.
We all had the itch. We were probably all doing a lot of performing and were like, “why don’t we make a video together?” We just kept saying it. Eventually we were like “we’ll meet on Tuesday, we’ll have lunch, come up with some loose ideas and then Wednesday we’ll shoot it.” That’s how it happened. It wasn’t like, “this is going to be a web series, this is going to be anything.” In fact, we shot that and I sat on it for a long time.
Maybe six months. I was looking at the footage and thought it was medium, you know? I don’t want to put any videos out there that are going to waste anyone’s time. I’d just rather not show it.
But that video was great though!
Yeah, Brent was like, “wow, that video’s good. Let’s sit down and just edit it. We’ll just get it done." Once we started putting it together, then we were loving it. You don’t know until you start editing. Your memory of the shoot is different.
Pound House is like DJ Douggpound to me in that they both strike a very particular tone. The sitcom opening credits feels particularly Lynchian.
The cool thing with the intro is my next door neighbor is a music director and he has a grand piano in the front of his house. So he’s always playing piano. And he was asking me what I do and stuff, and I said I’m doing an internet series. And he goes, “oh, if you ever need any musical arrangements or little diddies, little like zingers or stabs or zingers, let me know.” And I was like, yeah, sure. And he made a couple little piano melodies. So that’s the opening piano.
It sounds like an organic process.
Yeah, it wasn’t like, this is the tone it’s gonna be. It’s just... That was my neighbor going, “here, here’s some piano stuff.” And I was like, “this is cool. This is the theme song.” I like when decisions like that are made for me.
Something you never would have thought of on your own.
Yeah, something comes up and you just go with it.
A lot of the stuff you've made feels like the culmination of a lot of influences.
Yeah, that's the idea, keep living and gather as many influences as you can. I think my next project will be “shoegaze comedy.”