Misha Estrin is a staple personality to the University of Minnesota. Although he graduated last year, the stand-up comedian will always be known to UMN students as the “Free Hugs and Free Shrugs Guy,” and he proudly embraces his legacy.
This brief interview provides a look into the complex world of what it means to be Misha. To be honest, we’re still confused.
TBS: So you’re known as the “Free Hugs and Free Shrugs Guy.” Is there anything else you plan to give away for free?
ME: Nothing in life is truly free as many people have noticed. The true price of a hug is negative emotions. You give up your negativity in exchange for a hug.
TBS: Who is the best person that you’ve ever given a free hug too?
ME: I see all people of equal goodness. There is no best person. Humans are mere reflections of my mental state, so they are all filled with the same amount of compassion, caring, and selflessness.
TBS: Alright, well on the flip side of the coin, who is the worst person?
ME: My ex-girlfriend.
TBS: You are originally from Belarus, correct?
ME: Yes, that is where I met and hugged the worst person.
TBS: Yikes. Well, what is your favorite band from Belarus?
ME: Belarus has banned bands. So none.
TBS: When you swear, what language do you swear in?
ME: I swear in binary code. 100111 1010101. I apologize for my language.
TBS: How many licks do you think it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop?
ME: AHHH, the tootsie pop is a metaphor for knowing and understanding another person! Remember that other people are reflections of us! Sure, you may see the tangy brown part of another person and bite into its sweet sugary goodness, but you’ll never truly understand them. You’ll never get to their center until you lick away the hard shell surrounding yourself.
TBS: Wow…that’s deep. Anyways, I’m curious Misha, how are you this tan in Minnesota?
ME: There are two processes by which I’ve become tan. Firstly, UVA radiation created oxidative stress, which in turn oxidised existing melanin and lead to rapid darkening of my skin. In the second process, triggered primarily by UVB, there was an increase in production of melanin (melanogenesis), which is my body’s reaction to direct photodamage (formation of pyrimidine dimers) from UV radiation. Melanogenesis lead to delayed tanning, and became visible two or three days after exposure. The tan that is created by increased melanogenesis typically lasts for a few weeks or months, much longer than the tan that is caused by oxidation of existing melanin, and is also actually protective against UV skin damage and sunburn, rather than simply cosmetic. However, in order to cause true melanogenesis-tanning by means of UV exposure, some direct DNA photodamage must first be produced, and this requires UVB exposure (as present in natural sunlight, or sunlamps that produce UVB).
TBS: Okay then…How long do you spend in the mirror on your hair?
ME: The same as the time it took me to explain how I get tan.
TBS: What’s your favorite article of clothing that you own?
ME: The article about relationships in the Minnesota Daily. I like to wear it as a hat.
TBS: Nice. So how do you like being a stand up comedian?
ME: Drunk people can be really mean after shows. Yesterday a man approached me and called me a 1001101010100 101010111101 10101101201!
TBS: That’s unfortunate. Well Misha, this is our final question: What’s it like to be you?
ME: It’s good. Much better than all the other people I’ve been.