As the 6-foot-7 comedian and actor Brian Posehn walks through the campgrounds at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, fan after fan comes up to ask for a picture.
Posehn, sporting his signature orange beard, had been in Tennessee for less than an hour -- he headed to the Manchester festival site straight from the Nashville airport -- when fans began stopping him for pictures as he ambled around, looking for the reporter set to interview him.
The easy course would have been to say no to the picture requests, especially after finding this reporter sweltering in the heat, but the 45-year-old funnyman learned a long time ago the impact of shunning a fan.
The sometimes surly Posehn, known for roles in Just Shoot Me! and The Sarah Silverman Program, stopped for each and every fan that approached him on this day because he knows the consequences if he blows off one of his biggest fans.
I don't want to disappoint anybody, said Posehn. I hang out with a lot of rock band guys and I see the looks on kids' faces when they don't get what they want from the experience. They'll put up their hand to high-five some of my friends and my friends will be like, 'No man, I only do the fist pound.'
Then the kid walks away and says 'That guitar player, who I worship, is a d*ck. Now I might not buy their next record,' and I don't want to do that to people. Part of me is like 'Goddammit, I just got here,' but I keep that in my head.
Posehn knows that all it takes is one poor experience with a fan to earn a lifelong reputation of being a jerk. With the rise of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, it is now easier than ever to tell the world about one's encounter with a celebrity -- whether it be good or bad.
One can also get a reputation for being a jerk for no reason at all, as seems to be the case at times with Posehn.
He recalled one time a fan approached Jay Johnston, who starred with him on HBO's Mr. Show, and a blonde woman, asking about whether Brian Posehn was a d*ck. At the time Posehn was busy getting high and playing video games, and the man began peppering Johnston with questions about his co-star's personality.
Johnston and the woman asked the unknown man what he had heard about Posehn and he told them, I heard he was a huge f**king a**hole and that he thinks he is funnier than the rest of the other comedians.
The two kept prodding the man about why he disliked Posehn so intensely for 20 minutes or so before finally the woman revealed herself as Melanie, Posehn's wife. The man apparently immediately turned ghost-white and couldn't believe the two let him rant for so long.
Posehn tells the story with a laugh, but thinks it might have something to do with his standup comedy approach.
My standup persona is kind of silly, but also I kind of have this dry, surly thing that I can't shake, he explained. So I've had people that just assume I'm an a**hole.
Posehn is currently preparing to shoot another comedy special where he will talk, in part, about his testicles and being fat. He was known at one time as the pot comic and frequently talked about getting high with his audiences, but decided in 2011 to give up marijuana.
At Bonnaroo he said he is now 15 months clean and that he feels more present and more sharp than he had been while on the drug. For an admitted wake and bake guy for a good chunk of his life it was difficult to drop smoking marijuana, but when his wife got pregnant he knew he had to do something.
He wasn't going to smoke inside the house while his wife was pregnant, and smoking outside just didn't cut it for Posehn.
I'm outside, it's raining out, I'm bent over trying to light a joint and smoke it - feel like I'm sucking a d*ck - and that's when it really starts to feel like an addiction, he said with a laugh. I felt kind of pathetic.
Posehn says his decision to kick marijuana, through Alcoholics Anonymous, has made him more present in his life and a better overall comedian, but he was fearful at first. He seriously wondered whether he could write funny standup material after using pot as a crutch for so many years.
He asked himself, Can I still do this? Without pot? but all of his concerns were washed away when a fan came up to him after one of his shows. The fan told him he had seen him before and after Posehn gave up marijuana, and that he was way sharper the latter time.
Posehn does miss some of the social aspects of the drug. A lot of comedians use it not only as a way to inspire their work, but also to bring people together after shows. But the fact that Posehn and many of his friends are now married with children has slowed down some of the pot smoking and partying.
His friends in the industry, whom Posehn used to frequently smoke with, are also the people that he considers his favorite comedians. He is way more likely to take in a show of his friend Louis C.K. than Dane Cook or Carlos Mencia, but that's not to say he dislikes either.
People automatically assume that I hate Carlos Menica or Dane Cook because so many comics do, but the way I always looked at it, and it may sound corny, is that they aren't taking any food out of my mouth.
Until someone like that is a d*ck to me or one of my friends, I don't have anything against them. I've had some run-ins with a couple of big guys who were d*cks, but even then why go out in the public and do that? Why cause any beef? I just tell my friends, you are right that guy is a colossal douche.
Louis C.K., along with Aziz Ansari, who was another headliner at Bonnaroo, is a comedian that has capitalized on the changing ways of the business. The comedian, who has his own show Louie on FX, offered up his latest comedy special on the Internet first, but asked fans to pay a nominal fee of $5.
The results were staggering - he amassed more than $500,000 in revenue in four days - and it has led others in the field to consider doing the same. Posehn doesn't plan on following that exact blueprint, but has re-evaluated how he approaches the business side of comedy.
The one thing I've noticed more people is trying to get ownership of what they do, he said. What I'm doing next time and what Patton [Oswalt] has done -- we have the same management -- is they've guided us both to shoot our own specials with our own money and then take it to these other places. Once we shoot it, we own it, and then we decide do we take it to the Internet first? Or Showtime, Comedy Central, or DVD?
Now we own it rather than making some sh*tty deal you have to make when you are a young comic.
In addition to working on a new comedy special, Posehn intends to release a full-length metal album and is working with Marvel on a new comic book series. He is on the third issue of a planned 18-issue series and expects an announcement about the unnamed project sometime in July.
Posehn has a lot going on right now in his career and despite what those anonymous Internet posters might think, he's happy and at least on this day, not a d*ck.
I'm in a really good place right now.