Interview with Mike Cannon: One of New York’s Funniest Comedians

Mike cannon comedian
Mike cannon comedian

We sat down with Mike Cannon comedian at the New York Comedy Club.

What do you wish someone had told you about show business before you entered it?
I think everyone gave me fair warning about what to expect. I wish they could’ve shown me like The Giver or Powder. Just grab my arm and make me feel some of the joy and pain to come.

Do you think your stand-up has changed a lot over the years?
I certainly hope so, because I was not good when I started. I had this amazing confidence though which quickly eroded during the first couple of years and now I feel like I’m trying to build myself back up. I recently went back to some of my old notebooks and tried a few of the jokes out at an open mic. I had some decent ideas with no idea how to execute them. Now I have poor ideas with some craft in place.

What happens if they don’t laugh
I lightly poke fun at myself and the career path I’ve chosen, and then when I realize they’re soulless reptiles that have no empathy towards their fellow man I get a bit grumpy.

How often do you perform comedy per week?
Anywhere from 7-20+ shows per week. It depends if I’m on the road or in the city. If I’m in the city I try to get up as much as I can, so I have some new stuff to develop during longer sets in other places. If I don’t have anything new then that is a lonely weekend away from home.

What are you favorite comedy clubs that you perform at?
New York Comedy Club has turned itself into one of the best clubs in the city over the past few years. The vibe is extremely positive, the staff is fantastic and the room is perfectly set up for comedy. I saw my first show ever there when I was 15, and I actually started out seating people there on weekends in my first year, so it’s a special place to me. I also love Stand Up NY, the Creek, The Stand and a lot of the alternative venues/bar shows are really great. Too many to list.

How often do you write jokes?
I write every day. Sometimes it feels like I don’t because I’ll be working on the same joke for a few days in a row, but by the time it’s “done” I’ll see where all my work went in. Since I’ve gotten more comfortable performing I’ve realized that a lot of my actual writing is the skeleton of what the joke will eventually be. A lot of it comes out on stage now, because the fear of silence or disapproval makes my brain fire faster.

When did you feel like you were a pro comedian?
Probably the first time I ever got paid. I felt a lot of cool things in the beginning, but now all my nerve endings are soddered shut.

How did you know you wanted to be a comedian or did it just happen?
I played 2 years of junior college basketball, and once I realized my athletic limitations even with the aid of steroids, I looked for another outlet where I could receive applause and people yelling at me.

Who would you say are your influences in the comedy world?
My friends mostly – some people that make me laugh the most are Chris Distefano, Yamaneika Saunders, James Mattern, Mike Feeney, Greg Stone, Anthony Devito, Liza Treyger, Matt Richards, Matteo Lane. There’s too many to list and I’m sure I’m forgetting a close personal hilarious friend, but there are 9,000 more questions I need to answer.

What is one of your more embarrassing memories from childhood?
I shit my pants in public a lot.

What are the most important rules you live by?
If nothing else, always wear clean underwear. I almost never break that rule.

What was your favorite book as a kid, and what does that say about you?
Frog and Toad are Friends. Probably means I’m a gay frog.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
“Be undeniable” – Steve Martin to his publisher to Barnes and Nobles to me

Given your feelings about the state of our culture, how do you avoid despair?
I’ve found that a near deathly dose of opioids does the trick. I try not to avoid despair, but to meet it and process it instead. If I avoid it then it’ll come pouring out on the wrong people at the wrong time.

What three things would you take with you to a deserted island?
Fleshlight (spelling is correct)
4,000 pounds of indica dominant marijuana (plus seeds for future growth)
A Hatchet since it worked out well for that kid in that book I didn’t read.

Do you have any quotes that you live your life by or think of often?”
“Stop sagging your pants!” – Bill Cosby

How to handle hecklers from the stage?
With empathy and an open mind. Typically these people are going through their own shit and need some sort of validation or attention, and if anyone can identify with that it’s me. If they’re just a run of the mill piece of shit then I will expose all of their crippling insecurities.

“What advice would you give your younger self?”
Dress better, you can be Instagram famous.

What most important lesson you learned in comedy?
There is no ONE path. Do not get sucked into being jealous or bitter, because that’s the quickest way to end your career before it even starts.

Advice to your younger self just starting in comedy career?
This is gonna be hard. Take it seriously, because you’re not going to skate through it.

How long do you spend developing new material?
It depends on the joke/premise, but typically not until it’s working all the way through. Then when I’m finished with it I kind of get sick of it and put it aside so I can build something else.

Why is there so much sadness—depression, addiction—in the comedy world?
I think because it’s kind of an insane occupation, so obviously it draws a very specific type of human. I think sensitive people tend to get into comedy, so you can really get locked into the emotional swings, and if you’re not prepared or willing to wait it out it can get really sticky.

What’s your drink of choice?
Alcohol

Greatest cartoon of all time?
The Simpson’s, South Park, Calvin and Hobbes

Let’s say you could live the life of any animal in the wilderness for one day: What would it be?
Rabbits cause they be fuckin’

So the stereotype of comedians being horribly depressed and neurotic is true?
I guess? I think a lot more people are horribly depressed and neurotic but a comedian is public about it. I’m not entirely convinced on how special we actually are. I just think we have some sort of compulsion to talk about what’s going on in our life and why the hell we’re all stuck on this rock hurdling through an ever expanding abyss.

Do you ever get tired of being a comedian?
Yeah I get tired of being a human being too.

So at the end of your day, what’s your ultimate goal?
I would like to be a really really good comedian. I would like to tour and have people come out to see me on purpose.

What would you say troubles you the most about the world today?
People seem to be more concerned with being right than they are about having a conversation and gaining perspective.

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