You Can Change a Life with 20 Dollars: Jessie Borrelle interviews Ophira Eisenberg

This interview below is from our most recent print issue, #19, of which you should absolutely definitely unconditionally grab a copy (please do — every sale helps us make the next Brow, and the next, and the next).

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Ophira Eisenberg is a funny, professionally. She hosts a trivia show on national public radio and recently published an authorised autobiography Screw Everyone. I’m going it read it after I interview her. Because reading it beforehand could result in not being able to use my words at all ­– whether it be stage fright or antipathy. I give Ophira twenty dollars and ask her to go to the shop Daiso, where every item is $2.80. I give her strict instructions to buy five items. She comes back with eight. She says I’ve changed her life. It won’t last – this is the Daiso feeling she is feeling. It lasts for $2.80.

Jessie: I really hope you like capitalism, because I just gave you money.

Ophira: I live in America! Even though I am a Canadian, really.

J: Well I can relate to that. I’m a New Zealander. A New Zealander is to an Australian what a Canadian is to an American.

O: Same relationship?

J: Yeah. They often want us to say stuff like “hottie”, which is a hot water bottle, and “chilly bin”, which is an esky. An esky is one of the fundamental cultural items in Australia. It’s a cold box that you can put beer in.

O: That’s a fundamental cultural item? Oh it’s beer based. I get it.

J: If you can put beer in it it’s a really good thing.

O: Put a beer in it. PUT A BEER IN IT.

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O: I went over my limit so I topped it up with some of my own money, because I couldn’t help myself. I need to know right now what’s going to happen to these items afterwards.

J: Oh my god. Okay, well we can negotiate that.

O: Fair enough. I feel like one of the reasons that I love about stores like this is because I’m very pragmatic.

J: Being a stand-up comedian basically screams pragmatism.

O: I actually can’t buy things that aren’t useful.

J: You are not doing well at capitalism, then.

O: I know. I just like using things. See this, I have never seen this in any other store. This is amazing – it’s for your lunch. Its a little tiny overlay that you put on your food and it says anti-bacterial sheets. But the food is saying something in a language that I cannot read. The food is very excited. At whatever is going on here. But have you ever heard of an anti-bacterial sheet that you put over your food? Like a shield, but it says ‘don’t eat’ but you put it on your food. This is very interesting! I need to Google this. I need to find out more. Maybe everything is about to change.

J: I think you should be worried about what you’re eating if you need an anti-bacterial sheet. I feel like the reason you might like this is because it’s sending you mixed messages.

O: It’s sending me mixed messages and I can’t tell if this is, like, the best invention that I’ve been missing from my take away lunches. Or if this is poison. I love that it’s like don’t eat it but put it on your food. I just can’t figure that out. And then it’s adorned with a little bear and a rabbit and a dog. Three cute things.

J: I think that’s a legal requirement in Japan – to have an animal on everything.

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O: Speaking of an animal on everything. I couldn’t help but want one of these. Sometimes they have these characters, these characters are Gachapin and Mukku. This is Mukku. How could you not love something called Mukku!?! Mukku is losing his mind right now.

J: He looks terrified. He wants you to stop doing whatever you’re doing.

O: And this is a body wash mitten for adults. There were the same ones for children. But this one specifically for adults. I want you to realise that. If you are not 18 you cannot use this. It’s too much for you.

J: Did you have to show your drivers’ license to buy that?

O: I had to show my passport.

J: Are you going to have a conflict of interest here? Because he clearly does not want you to rub him all over your body. But that’s his job.

O: I do like the idea —now I understand this is all fun language translation, that’s part of the thing—but I love a cleaning implement whose name is Mukku. You’re all mucky, and this is what you’re going to use.

J: Oh. Mucky, Mukku! Maybe you get dirtier when you rub him on, and that’s why you need the other one, Gachapin.

O: It looks pretty soft, I was hoping it was going to be a little more intense.Let’s feel Mukku. Oh, super soft. Why would you have an animal? I don’t know. Is this a ghost? I don’t understand what this animal is. Chewbacca? It looks like a little Chewbacca. And then it’s got a propeller.

J: It looks like a derivative of every character ever made. But I like this philosophy of “you know how we can make everything better?” Let’s just put a face on it. Put a face on it.

O: Totally agree. I was drawn right to it.

J: Because what you want in the shower is a creepy little red guy looking at you.

O: And I also like the specificity. And that is a really good marketing tool. You mentioned that this is for adults? You know really, you got to weed people out. Wait a second, I’m an adult, this is for me. It tightly fits an adult hand, good to know. So if your hand doesn’t fit this… that’s how you know know. Mukku. And I guess I have to collect Mukku’s friend. But I travel a lot so this would be useful in my travel.

J: I think so. I wonder how long Mukku takes to dry out. When you use him. I’m assuming it’s a him.

O: I don’t know, but the fear in the eyes… it could be a girl, I’ve seen that fear.

J: But boys are more afraid of showering and cleaning and personal hygiene.

O: That is true. That is true. Oh I bought a boy glove? Is that what you’re telling me?

J: But are you going to use his face side on your body or the other side.

O: No, I would have the face up to my face. We would look at each other while I was cleaning.

J: If you had a friend in the shower though, that might be quite nice.If you were cleaning them.

O: I like that I would have a friend in the shower. Just friends! Just friends showering. Nothing’s going on here, just friends.

J: You know what? A friendship based on hygiene. That’s a good friendship.

O: Juuuust friends…

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O: Alright. Now this is very important to me, I saw this, and I thought thank god someone invented this. Again, I’m very practical. This is a pillow pad. It does say the photography is an image, it’s different from the real article. Ah, I hope it’s not that different. This is the strangest item of all time; it’s just a weird cloth with an elastic that you put over your pillow. But like I say, I do a lot of travelling and this morning I was talking with the two girls in here for the show and we were all talking about how weird our dreams have been since we have been here. And I find that whenever I travel, which I do a lot, the dreams I have in hotels or what have you, are totally different from the dreams I have at home. And my theory is, I’ve worked on it, that um, it’s sort of a weird theory. My theory is: you’re lying on different pillowcase, but the same pillows have had a lot of different people and their dreams get like caught. It influences your head. Seeps back in. But this will be the barrier.

J: Oh! So you’ve got residual dream matter. You don’t think a dream can penetrate this fabric?

O: I’m not sure! It’s sinker pile. I’ve never heard of sinker pile.

J: That sounds very dream resistant.

O: It’s dream resistant! I think that’s what it says. Easily setting with rubber. Can’t wait to use that.

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Here ends the first half of this wonderful interview. To read the rest, you’ll have to buy the issue it appeared in, #19! It’s only $9, and has approximately 50 other pieces of work that are as good what you’ve enjoyed above.