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Say “Uncle”!

I’m going back and forth between thinking I’m the worst uncle in the world getting my niece and nephew to say bad words into a camera and realizing that they at least hear way worse at school every day.  Nevertheless, I thought it would be funny.

During my CD recording, I spoke a little bit about how my parents tried to shelter me and my brother.  That only worked until outside forces invaded.

This is the kind of kid I was.  When I was around five, my parents moved us to Sylvania, Ohio for a year.   On the first day the kid across the street came over and within minutes taught me the word “fart”.  Until then, I would say, “my pants burped.”  My mom’s sister’s family wouldn’t even say “burp”!  They’d say, “my piggy came up.”

I wasn’t broken yet.  Well, I was, just in a different way.  Back in Michigan a couple years later I was on the playground at recess with my friend Corey.  He fell off a slide and knocked out a tooth.  When he noticed he said, “shit!”  Being a good kid, I ran and got the lunch lady to….tell her Corey said a bad word.  I neglected that entire tooth business.  I kind of remember wondering if he was going to get in trouble over the bad word.  I don’t remember worrying about the tooth or the bloody mouth at all.

I remember too watching National Lampoon’s Vacation and having my parents telling me and my brother to leave the room during the entire cousin scene.  Of course that only made us want to watch the scene to find out what we were missing.  So we watched from around the corner in the kitchen.  We assumed it was the line, “Ever bop your baloney?”  We went to the refrigerator and tried to figure out what was so bad about bologna and how exactly does one, “bop” it?

I grew up with the Barbra Streisand version of A Star Is Born.  I loved and still love that movie.  In middle school in an English class we had to write our autobiography.  Mine is called A Star Is Born.   I watched that movie a lot as a kid…except for the scene where Kris Kristofferson and Babs take a bath together.  There’s no nudity, no sex, no swearing in that scene.  I guess it’s because Babs puts makeup on Kris and my mom didn’t want me watching that.  Nevermind the fact that throughout the rest of the movie Kris Kristofferson snorts almost a Scarface amount of cocaine.

Somehow that must have worked a little.  I don’t do drugs, but I do get squirmy when I have to wear makeup for TV things.

I’m not sure where I was finally broken.  I know by high school my friend John and I would drive around in his Chevelle and “bowel growl”.  That’s what we called yelling the most offensive things possible in our best death metal voices out his window.  So if you lived in Troy, Michigan and were woken up by a couple of teenagers playing demon between 1988 and 1991, I’m sorry.

So here we are in 2013 and I’ve got a potty mouth.  I don’t know how it happened.  I worked in radio for awhile and kept it clean there.  My first CD is pretty clean to the best of my memory.  I was in a punk band in the mid-90s and sang fairly preachy songs about staying clean…oh wait…there was one about eating shit and another about a friend’s penis.  Oops.  Not sure where I was going with that.

So to the best of my mom’s ability she probably didn’t want to raise a foul mouthed brat.  The good news is she didn’t.  Everyone else did!

I just launched the Kickstarter for this new album.   You can pledge to this project by clicking here.

cover distressedIf you don’t know what Kickstarter is, it’s a way to support a project and in this case basically just preorder it.  Based on the amount you support I’ve offered lots of additional perks from copies of the previous CD, your name included in the liner notes, a thank you card from my mom and even this shirt that people seem to be digging!

bobbittshirtmockupI decided to limit the shirt to 150 and make sure that it’s only available through this program.  I’m not going to cheat either and do the same shirt but with 2014 next year or anything sly like that.  This Ramones inspired Nerd Punk Comedy shirt will only be available through this offer.

I’m really proud of the new material.  The first of the two CD recordings is next week and it looks like it’s already very close to selling out.  I’m overwhelmed by the support from everyone and can’t thank you enough.

If you have any questions you can drop me a line at mike@offthemike.com.

CD Recording!

I’m getting ready to record my third comedy CD and I’m super excited!  This one is going to be recorded on June 6th at 8pm at Go Comedy! Improv Theater in Ferndale.  Here’s the poster.

goposterGo Comedy! is a great space.  It’s a small 100 seat theater.  I did stand up there a few years ago with Toddy Barry and had a blast.

This new CD is going to be called “nowadays” and I’m really proud of the material.  It’s a lot more personal than stuff I’ve written in the past.  Since recording the second one, I got to work with Marc Maron a few times as well as Louis CK.  You can’t share a stage with heavy hitters like that and not come out a better comedian.  Here’s the pitch for “nowadays“….which I totally know doesn’t sound that funny on paper…I start looking inside my brain and talk about how and why I react to obstacles and the things that cause me stress and anxiety in my life.  Don’t worry…there are still poop jokes.  Oh…this is the rough version of what the cover for that CD will look like.

nowadays_cover

My last CD “Full Frontal Nerdity” is good.  I think I developed more as a joke writer, but there isn’t really a definitive thru-line to the material.  My favorite track on it is “Titty Bars” which to this day may be the most personal thing I ever wrote.  It’s a surreal bit about how I’m afraid of topless bars because I’m worried something bad will happen to me if I go…meanwhile a whole slew of great things happen, but all I do is focus on the negative.  Yep, that’s how my broken brain works.

mikebobbittfullfrontal

 

My first CD “Mikey Pooh” is an okay first effort.  I have a hard time listening to it, but a Gamestop manager recently told me that it was his favorite of mine because he could tell I was still managing a Gamestop myself at the time.  What I do like about this album is that it has a beginning, middle and an end.  It follows me through a fictional day and ends with callbacks to earlier bits.  I think maybe the best stand up special ever is Eddie Murphy “Delirious”  because when he hits that last joke you know it’s his last joke.  So often when you watch stand up, it’s joke one, joke two, joke three, goodnight.  Where did that come from?

Mikey Pooh

nowadays” will hopefully capture the best elements of my first two CDs.  I feel like the writing is stronger and more personal than ever, but there’s also a real thru-line.  The material goes in a logical flow and everything does wrap up at the end.  In fact, I’ve written so much material for this album that I’ve been putting some newer bits on the back burner because they just didn’t fit the story I wanted to tell this time.  The first two CDs were pretty much everything I had at the time.

I’ll have information really soon about how you can pre-order “nowadays”.

Thank you so much!

 

Lessons Learned: Comedy Club on State

Last week I was at one of my favorite clubs, The Comedy Club on State in Madison, Wisconsin.  I absolutely love this place.  Gus and Mary who own it are two of the nicest people I’ve ever had the good fortune of meeting.  Their daughters Eve and Anna are beautiful inside and out.  Joe, the room manager runs are super tight ship and is an hell of a guy too.  The waitstaff is stunning.  The bartenders all handsome.  Both on the surface and beneath it, everything about this place is fantastic.

Originally I was supposed to be doing this week as a split week where I would headline Thursday and then Eddie Brill who used to book Letterman would come in on Friday and Saturday.  Eddie got into a little trouble earlier this year for being misquoted or having his words taken out of context about female comics.  So he canceled the gig.  Instead I was working with Ian Edwards.

I Googled Ian months ago and saw that he was a staple at the Laugh Factory in LA.  Part of me had a feeling that I was going to  wish I could time travel because we’d be friends months after I got back from LA myself.    Still though, appearance wise, Ian reminded me of the intense Erik King who played the ill fated Sgt. Doakes on Dexter.  Maybe it would be a nightmare.   Couldn’t have been more wrong.  Ian is hilarious and brilliant both onstage and off.  He’s that thoughtful kind of comedian who I love listening to talk about the craft and psychology of comedy.   If you look at his IMDB page you’ll see too that he’s written for some very high profile shows and that’s evident in his word choice on stage.  It’s preposterous how deliberate he is!  It also made me giggle a little every time he’d say “preposterous” on stage.  That’s a word I associate with my dad and comedian Don Reese.  Ian is about as far opposite on the other end of that spectrum as you could be….then again, maybe not.  I’m building to something.  Trust me.

At the risk of being one of those comedians who says the stereotypical, “normally I headline”, I have to say, normally I headline.  Funny Business has been fantastic to me.  Eric Yoder knows what I do and I trust him with booking me accordingly.  Sometimes it’s nice to test the water so I go into clubs in the middle spot.  The Comedy Club on State and Dr. Grin’s are the exceptions.  I prefer to middle at both of those places because they have the budget and taste to bring in the bigger name people I’d like to work with.  Last year at those two clubs respectfully, I opened for Marc Maron and Carl LaBove.

I always have a blast when I’m at both clubs.  This time was no exception.  In addition to having Ian on one side of me I had my old friend Saurin Choksi on the other.  I’ve known Choksi since he started comedy in Detroit.  I’ve known him since he was just the one named Choksi, sort of like the Cher of comedy!  I was a fan of his even back in his open mic days.  He’s instantly likable and spoke with the same reference for pop culture that I have.   He’s since moved to Chicago and has gotten even better than he was before.   I let him crash in my hotel room and had a great time catching up.  I really hope I’m presented with an opportunity to bring him along on a gig again soon.  He’s silly and dark and what we do works well together.

Okay, let’s get to the lessons learned part of this.

I was sick most of the week with either this cold or flu that’s going around.  I was taking Dayquil during the day and Nyquil at night.  I didn’t feel 100% on stage any of the shows.  Thursday and Friday felt like 70% at best.  Saturday I maybe got up into the high 80s.   Still though, people were entertained.  They said so afterwards.  They’d buy a CD or pick up a sticker and tell me something they enjoyed.  Without fail, I apologized and told them I wasn’t feeling my best.

Saturday night, walking back to the hotel the final time Ian mentioned this.  He pointed out that when people quote something specific that you did that they enjoyed, that means their sincere and not just people polite as they walk past.  To apologize in response demeans their take on the show.  I need to learn to be more gracious and take compliments better.

That’s something I thought about for days after.  This is what I equate it to.  I love Star Wars.  Anyone who knows me knows that.  I love Han Solo.  Harrison Ford always criticizes that role saying it wasn’t that strongly written of a character.  It bugs me.  It bugs me like fingers down a chalk board.  Aside from the iconic Harrison Ford roles I grew up with, I think subconsciously it’s made me not want to really support other things that he’s done because I think deep down when he knocks Han Solo I feel like he’s knocking me and my taste.   Jeremy Bulloch on the other hand who played Boba Fett has totally embraced the role and the fact that people love it.  Obviously that part is much, much, much smaller than Han Solo.  Maybe it’s Bulloch’s promotion that’s helped make that small role something loved by so many.  I need to be less Han Solo and more Boba Fett in the future.

I’ve been putting off this last part until the end because I didn’t really know how I wanted to approach it.  Being in Madison was hard on a personal level.  It’s a city where I shared a lot of memories with someone who’s not part of my life any more.  Most of those memories were great.  I felt, and feel while writing about it, pangs of sadness when I’d walk past her favorite store or restaurants where we ate.  Madison this time was a city filled with ghosts.  It was the corner where we fought when I was so positive I was right and now a year and a half later I realize I wasn’t.  She wasn’t able to always go on the road with me.  Near the end, there were only a couple places she liked to go.  Madison was one of them.  I took traveling for granted.  I was quick to judge and criticize.   I’m glad I had this trip alone with my memories.  It let me purge some of them.  Hopefully next time I can start to build new ones.

With all of that being said, Gus and Mary who own the club felt the heaviness that I felt.  Physically and emotionally I changed.  Last time I was there I was about 80 pounds lighter.  The depression of this past year still weighs on me literally.  In the green room I opened up to Gus a little early in the week.  Before he left on Saturday he came in to tell me this.  He said that it takes rough waters to make a great captain.

It takes rough waters to make a great captain.  

I’ve been thinking about that a lot.  At first I felt like I wasn’t a great captain when the waters first got rough.  While that may be true, a great captain can’t look back at the water behind him.  He needs to look forward.  I don’t know that I’ve ever been a great captain.  I’m going to try to be now though.  I’ve gone back to the gym.  I’ve stopped the comfort eating.  I’m going to get through this storm that I’ve been circling the ship in for months and months.  My crew has stood by me and it would be unfair to them and to me to not change course.

Thank you Madison, Wisconsin.  I’ll see you next time.

Lansing Connxtions: Week in Review

This past week I was performing at Lansing Connxtions with Danny Kallas from Chicago and Ian Mulvaney from Lansing.

I had a blast.   Connxtions is one of those clubs that gets so much right.  This may sound surprising to some of you, but there are a lot of clubs where the staff is just a sour group of gloomy Guses.   I think everyone who works at Lansing Connxtions works there because they love their job.  Most of that credit has to go to Tina who runs the place.  She’s a really good boss.  Having been a really good boss myself back when I was at Gamestop, you can tell when someone is leading well.

This is a gross example of why I can tell Tina is great, but it’s the best example.  Someone from the audience threw up Saturday night.  When that happens someone has to clean it.  That person ended up being more focused on who did it so they could direct their anger that way and never said anything along the lines of, “I can’t believe Tina is making me clean up vomit.  What a bitch.”   They party hard in Lansing, but only after they’ve worked hard.  It’s a really good staff.

Emceeing for me was Lansing’s own Ian “Mulva the Vulva” Mulvaney.  Ian did a great job.  He was really excited to do it.  My ego was totally stroked because there were a handful of Lansing guys who really wanted to work with me, but Ian asked first.  I performed with him a little while ago at a benefit show for a mutual friend who died.  I don’t know what I did that made it so Ian really wanted to do a set together, but I appreciated it a lot.  That’s so important too.  Something you say to someone that may seem totally insignificant could hit them totally different.  I’m glad I did or said something nice then because I had a really good time hanging out with Ian.  Together we looked like Earl and Randy from My Name is Earl.  I think we should go on the road doing dramatic readings of famous scenes from the show.

My feature was Danny Kallas from Chicago.  I loved working with Danny.  He and I had a similar sensibility that worked really well together.  We both had that “I’m going to take a lot of shots at a lot of things…including myself….so don’t get uptight” thing going on.  Danny and I have a mutual friend in one of his fellow Chicago comedy brothers from the Comedians You Should Know.   Detroit really needs something like that.  I think the closest we came was having the Live Rude Girls, but a certain shitty lady finds a way to drive a wedge into any communal endeavor.  She tried to do the same thing years earlier with The Desperate Houseguys, so I know first hand.   Detroit really needs a group of like minded performers to form something.  The reason CYSK works well is because you know by going to one of there shows what kind of show you’re going to get regardless of which members are performing.  First of all, they’re all among the best in Chicago, but secondly they all approach comedy with a like minded point of view.   I feel like I’m not wording this very well.  If I go to one of there shows, and I’ve worked with four or five of them, I know I’m going to see a pretty smart guy in his late twenties or early thirties doing incredibly well written and dark material that doesn’t pull any punches.  I not going to see someone singing Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer or a juggler or a person wearing a thong on her face.

Here’s the other thing that makes CYSK successful.  Even if one person isn’t on one of the shows, they all promote the shows as a unit.  The CYSK twitter account was promoting Danny being in Lansing even though he was the only one from the group that was.  They’re also all strong and working comics.  CYSK has become a brand.  If one of them opens a door I think it becomes easier for the rest of them to go through that door because CYSK means quality.  I think the closest thing we had in Detroit was when three great comedians Adam Sokol, Nate Fridson and Matt McLowry started to do stuff together.  If they branded that union more and brought in more people that would have gone well with that group like Brad Austin for example it could have been the Detroit version of CYSK.

Unfortunately, Chicago, unlike Detroit is a destination city for comedians.  Detroit is a place where people start and then leave.  Three quarters of the Detroit guys I mentioned in that last paragraph aren’t even here anymore.

I got way side tracked, but to sum up, last weekend I worked at a great place with some great people in front of five great audiences.  Each audience was uniquely different.  Saturday alone had the fairly full audience of people who seemed generally tired so you had to work really hard to keep them with you and it also had the super large rowdy crowd that you had to work just as hard to keep them, but in a completely different way.  I had a blast!

Here’s an exclusive clip from the first show Saturday night that you can only see through OffTheMike!  Here I encourage the burly men in the audience to take their sexy back.

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