Q&A with David Liebe Hart

David Liebe Hart called me from a Utah mountain range. The LA-based musician/comedian had just performed his first of 41 shows on his North American tour, and he let me know he wasn’t happy he’d be paying long-distance fees for our conversation. Liebe Hart is most famous for playing himself and singing with his puppets on Adult Swim’s Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!

We quickly found out that it’s a little unclear how much of his character on the show is an act and how much is, well, real.

The man and his handheld co-stars started receiving attention from his musical puppeteering on The Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson Program on Los Angeles Public Access Television in the ’80s.

Still a devout Christian Scientist, he’ll be performing at the 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis on July 15 at 8 p.m. In between dropped calls and conspiracy theories, we talked about his puppets, extraterrestrial experiences, and message to the world.

You’re an actor, a musician, and a performer. Your live show consists of your trademark puppet songs accompanied by some crazy visuals projected behind you. What do you say when people ask you what you do?

I’m an entertainer.

Some have said you’re an outside musician, do you agree with that?

I feel I should be an inside musician, but everything is controlled by Clear Channel. They’re the ones who control everything that plays on the radio in the United States. Because they’re dominating everything, they shut out a lot of good musicians and songwriters. I don’t think that’s fair at all. I’ve written a lot of songs I felt that could have been great hits on the radio.

Let’s talk about Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Where do you and the guys stand today?

We’re friendly. They love me and they call me back to work all the time. Sometimes they just don’t use the parts they call me to read for.

What are some of the things you’ve learned while working for Abso Lutely productions?

Discipline and being on time. Sometimes Tim and Eric will change the script at the last moment, so I have to focus on doing things differently than what I rehearsed for the whole week.

Has your songwriting process changed since coming to the studio?

It’s improved. I’ve taken music theory and voice classes, and I don’t only just write rock ’n roll, punk rock, and electronic music, but I also write religious music. Unfortunately, the close-minded, conservative people in the Christian Science church refused all my music. They said they didn’t want any music with ethnic tones to it—they wanted traditional, conservative, Republican classical music. They have a lot of growing to do and healing of racism. One guy sent me a $950 bill for praying for me just for two days.

Has your view of life changed since you started filming the Christian Science Bible Program in the ’80s?

I have to have a lot of tolerance with people. I like liberal things but I don’t like them too liberal. I know a lot of atheists that are liberal, but they don’t respect people that want to celebrate Christmas. Because people are close-minded to Christmas, I can’t paint Christmas decorations on store windows anymore. I used to make most of my money doing holiday decorations, and that’s over with now.

I saw you still have some pictures of those decorations on your website. Has painting always been a creative outlet for you?

I used to make most of my money [selling artwork and performing] at the La Brea Tar Pits. I was there for 40 years as a portrait artist, but security stopped me. I even renewed my business license and they still obstructed me. I enjoyed it and brought a lot of people joy and happiness, and I got to meet a lot of my fans face-to-face there. I also had a close encounter with two extraterrestrial women at the La Brea Tar Pits.

Are those the ones you reference in Korendian Honk?

Yes. I met Jezebel Bordious at the La Brea Tar Pits and she looked like Bettie Page as Wonder Woman. And that’s what inspired me to write the song.

The puppet you used in a video for that song is named Chip the Black Boy. In another song you mention he was stolen from a box in your apartment—

What happened is the original Chip was stolen from my apartment, and luckily a fan saw Chip at a restaurant across from Warner Bros. Studio and he bought him back for me. I’ve had him ever since.

Are there any other challenges that come with the puppets, or puppeteering in general?

Sometimes their eyebrows fall off … the performances are mostly harmonious, but every once in a while I’ll run across someone that’s rude and arrogant and says comments that aren’t acceptable. I tell them if you don’t like the show, close the door on the other side.

One of the biggest messages in all your work is that drugs and alcohol are dangerous, and kids should stay in school. Have people told you this message had a positive impact on them? 

People call me all the time and tell me it has. One guy saw the Junior Christian Science Bible Program and liked the message and became a devout Christian Scientist and thanked me. There was also a famous actress on the Power Rangers who was inspired by me and became a Christian Science practitioner. She said that helped her get over her divorce and win the custody of her daughter.

Indianapolis is pretty close to your hometown of Park Forest, Illinois. What do you think of the city?

I have a lot of family and friends that are veterans that live in the area, but they’re not close anymore. I like the trains, friendly people, and farms. I used to go fishing in Indianapolis a lot with my dad.

What was the inspiration for your latest album, Astronaut

My love for outer space. My love for wanting to be an astronaut. My love for the alien presence that’s with us and experiences I’ve had with women.