They say you should never meet your heroes. I’ve found that to be untrue. When I was 18, I met and became friends with Dave Brockie, better known as Oderus Urungus lead singer of Gwar. He took me under his wing for a few years and helped direct me onto my journey as a professional entertainer.
As an adult, my hero is Marc Maron. He’s a master of his craft and a truly unique voice. He’s said in the past that young comics tell him that they want to be “real” and he responds by telling them to work on being funny first. Marc is both real and really funny.
Here’s my first interaction with Mark Ridley. My tenth show was the open mic at the Comedy Castle in March of the year I started. I didn’t get back on stage again there until eight months later. For months and months I was convinced I did something to upset Mark and that was why I wasn’t invited back. Finally in November I built up the courage to talk to him face to face. I told him my concern. He laughed and showed me the humongous list of people who call in every week to go on stage. He assured me that I was fine and then he put me on stage again that following week. From day one for me, Mark Ridley has been a class act!
Over the years he’s done so many things for me. He let me and photographer Trever Long shoot my most recent headshots inside the Castle. My Desperate Houseguys performed there a handful of times for special events. Last month we shot the opening sequence of Deadpan there with a full cast and crew along with thirty extras! Most importantly, he’s been a friend and a mentor. Mark is a straight shooter. It was a pleasure sitting down with him and talk about the business and the Laugh Detroit Comedy Festival which kicks off tomorrow with David Alan Grier.
Mike and I take a walk down memory lane and discuss how things were different when we started and how things are currently in the open mic scene in Chicago. I think there’s a lot of really good information here particularly to the newer guys doing comedy. So I hope you enjoy and pick up something useful.
Without any huge credits, Mike Stanley has managed to become an “event” comic. When he comes to town, his loyal fan base often times sells out shows. I’ve been friends with Mike since his start in comedy and one thing he had from the very beginning was a ridiculously strong work ethic. He was always constantly writing and perfecting his craft. Years later, Mike’s work ethic has carried over to the business side of things. He’s a master of self promotion and is still continuously working on new creative endeavors in addition to his rock solid stand up.
Mike and I sat down at the Comedy Castle and talked about his work ethic, the differences between Chicago and Detroit comedy as well as the hardships of the business.