" This kid Josh turns to me and goes, "It's when you wake up in the morning and you hang your dick over the back of a chair." ELLE: Any other strange childhood misconceptions about human sexuality?
EH: I did for a time think that if you touched a woman's boob, she became pregnant. ELLE: Would it have to be skin on skin, or could pregnancy occur after brushing against a breast in an elevator?
EH: It had to be intentional—if you reached up and grabbed someone's boob, she would become pregnant. ELLE: You had open-heart surgery for a heart murmur when you were 14.
And that I'd had lots of sex by that point, but just by myself. My friend and I sang an a cappella rendition of Extreme's "More Than Words" at one of our football pep rallies in a desperate attempt to look cool.That's both terrifying and incredibly exhilarating. He'd center his comedic crosshairs on his human targets and fire without hesitation. So when the job called for that, it was very uncomfortable for me."So he recalibrated his tactical strikes. And I found what felt authentic in bluegrass and blues music."It was how he filled his downtime."When I wasn't invited to the party on Friday night, I could hang out in my room and play bluegrass and feel like I was doing something the cool kids weren't." His passion stayed alive through college, where Helms and his friends Jacob Tilove and Ian Riggs formed a bluegrass band called Lonesome Trio. "I'm always churning, but when I find myself around those people, I'm excited to churn."In other words, Ed Helms is traveling as fast as he can on whatever road inspires him at the moment.But it was the ideas he was taking out, not the humans. "I credit [Steve] Carell with shifting the focus of a field piece from ridiculing to being the butt of a joke yourself," he says. He's been picking for 20-plus years, ever since he was introduced to bluegrass at summer camp in the mountains of North Carolina. When he moved to Los Angeles, Helms cofounded the L. Bluegrass Situation, an annual music festival that in its 3 years has hosted such acts as Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, fellow bluegrass enthusiast John C. In June, Helms takes his skills to Tennessee's Bonnaroo festival as head of the Bluegrass Situation Superjam. But Ed Helms is no longer a college kid plucking away in his bedroom. So why is he still fighting for his bluegrass soul? He didn't build all this career momentum so he could coast. ELLE: You've described yourself as a high school nerd. For a while, I wore pink Converse All Stars because I thought it made me seem daring and irreverent.ELLE: You had me at "More Than Words." Before joining The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, you did a lot of sketch work and improv in New York.So I sympathize with somebody who's trying to be a better person but isn't really good at it. So you have to seek things you know you'll stay excited and passionate about and try to push them over the finish line."And that's something we can all do, right? Use our passions to help guide us through confusing moments of flux.