Who knew there was a mustache code in UTOPIA?
Dan Piraro — the comic strip illustrator and host of Fox’s big budget reality series — says producers required him to change the way he groomed his famous facial hair before appearing on camera.
“In my private life I wax the tips of my mustache to point upward like Salvador Dali,” he tells me. “That was a look that Fox didn’t want to go with. So they asked me to de-wax the mustache and have it be a little more soft and natural.”
“Luckily they didn’t ask me to shave it off!”
That may have been a deal breaker, Piraro says.
“I kind of think maybe I would have turned [the show] down. I am not one of these guys who is just dying to be on TV. I am having a ball, but it hasn’t always been my dream.”
Piraro tells me he has “always loved funny mustaches” and has sported one for the past 20 years.
“My beard doesn’t grow very fast, so it actually takes several years just to get to the place where I can pull of the Dali thing. And I am known for it. In the cartoon world, everybody knows me for looking this particular way.”
“I actually take pride in not looking like the average network TV show host.”
Piraro was recruited for the job of narrator by executive producer Jon Kroll.
The job was originally intended a voice-over only, but just days before the premiere, it was decided that the Missouri native would appear on camera — complete with his trademark sideburns, glasses and bowler hat!
Dan told me more about his unique style, his thoughts about the pioneers‘ journey so far and how long he would last in UTOPIA when we caught up earlier today.
You have become very famous, very fast. Are you comfortable with that?
Absolutely! I have done a lot of stand up comedy and a lot of public speaking. That sort of thing. I have a minor degree in minor celebrity. When I go to Comic Con, people treat me like a celebrity — which is fun. I can pretend I am important for a day. But that is how I want to keep it. I am not the sort of person who really wants to be famous in that way. I don’t want to be accosted in restaurants to take pictures and sign autographs. I don’t think I ever will be, so that is not a big concern or worry. [laughs] But I enjoy it.
You have an unconventional look on television. Is that how you dress to go to the grocery store?
Oh. yeah. It is pretty much all my own clothes and hats that I wear on the show. That is how I dress.
How long have you had the stache?
I have a fairly light beard, so I really couldn’t raise and keep the mustache until I was about 30. All through my 30s I had a Salvador Dali mustache. And then I shaved it off for a few years. I have had this one now for about 10 years.
Is it a chick magnet?
It is probably not a chick magnet. [laughs] I am very happily, solidly in a committed relationship, by the way — I have to say that up front. I am definitely off the market. But you know what it is? The kind of women that are attracted to an unusual looking guy like me are the kind of women that I would likely want to spend time with. I think most women are probably kind of turned off by an unusual look, but they were never women I was particularly chasing anyway. So I never minded looking odd.
Was being different ever difficult for you?
I have always embraced it. I have never really cared what other people thought. I wear what I want to wear. I happen to like these certain styles. I started wearing hats many years ago — before they became the big thing with hipsters. Now people call me a “hipster wannabe.” And I don’t care. I like hats. I have always liked them. And I am going to keep wearing them. I don’t care what names they call me.
Let’s talk about UTOPIA. What do you make of this crazy crew of “pioneers”?
They are unusual. And that is what makes it great television. This is a cross section of America. These people can be found everywhere, all over the country. I look at this show as a microcosm of what the United States is battling through with social issues and political issues. There are people who want to outlaw gay marriage. There are people who want to legalize it. People who want to put God back in the schools, and people who want to keep God out of the schools. We have perhaps the most intense social clash in our nation’s history going on right now and this show is a microcosm of that. These people are all trying to come to terms with how to build their own little world within these gates. They are unusual folks, but believe me, these people are everywhere. They are your neighbors.
How long do you think you would last as part of their community?
I wouldn’t last a day! Seriously. That is a pressure cooker in there. What those guys are going through is not easy. It is probably not nearly as easy and fun as even they might have thought it would be. They don’t have any entertainment, no connection with the outside world. No internet or newspapers or social media. They only have each other. And for a majority of the time so far, they haven’t really had as much to eat as they are used to. I think the explosions at first, you could see coming. Not that they are calming down and starting to work together, it is becoming even more interesting. But I wouldn’t make it in there. It takes a special, unique kind of person to even apply. And I am not one of those people. But I am having a ball standing outside the gates commentating about it!
UTOPIA airs Tuesdays and Fridays at 8:00 PM on Fox.
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