By Ryan Meehan
Mo Mandel is a talented young comedian and actor who can regularly be seen on the hit E! show Chelsea Lately and starred opposite Hank Azaria in the NBC sitcom “Free Agents” last fall. Mandel has also made appearances on “Modern Family”, “Happy Endings”, “Conan”, “Love Bites”, “The Late Show with Craig Ferguson”, and in his own highly rated Comedy Central half hour special. Come see him now before he becomes successful enough to justify having a full blown drug addled meltdown.
FOH: How did you get your start in standup comedy and do you have any background in improv?
MM: I was always into writing; short stories, one extremely dark novel in college. At some point I got more interested in writing about my dick than about my angsty personality and so I drifted into stand up comedy. I’ve since dabble in Improv at Second City and a few UCB classes. I like it a lot, should probably do more of it. On stage I improv a lot, especially when someone heckles me and I have to think on my feet to quickly destroy them in front of their date and hopefully ruin their night.
FOH: When you’re on stage doing standup, you’re the only one up there. I’m assuming this is much different than when you’re a part of a roundtable discussion such as when you appear on ‘Chelsea Lately’. Do you feel like there’s less pressure on a show like that, since if a joke doesn’t work for whatever reason you have other comedians there to save the bit?
MM: It’s actually much scarier to do Chelsea Lately because a lot of times I’m making jokes about things I don’t really know much about. Like if a joke I’m telling about the Kardashians bombs, it’s hard to save it because I don’t really know much about them and thus there are not a lot of places I can take it. Where as if a joke on stage bombs I can pretty much just transition to any topic I want because I’m the host of my own show. I’m the Chelsea of my own Lately if you will. And my penis is Chuy.
FOH: I am a huge fan of both Joe Lo Truglio and Hank Azaria, whom you worked with on “Free Agents”. How did you hear the news that the show had been cancelled and what was your thought process like after your immediate reaction?
MM: I love those guys!!! I saw Joe at the audition and was star struck because I’ve just enjoyed him in so many things over the years. Hank is such a talented guy that I never got unsurprised by the fact that I was working with him. It never seemed to make sense to me. He is so good at both comedy and drama. I saw him cry on cue for the pilot which blew me away because I pretty much can’t ever cry unless I’m watching Forrest Gump. I hate that the show got cancelled so fast and it made me sad and angry that I was gonna have to start working hard again. Being a supporting character on a tv show is the best paying easy job in the world. Auditioning for commercials and whatever else you can get your hands on is when the really hard work kicks in.
FOH: What was the greatest experience you have had to date doing standup comedy on the road, and what made that moment so special for you?
MM: A guy came up to me after a show one time and told me that he and his buddies used to listen to my CD in Afghanistan after they got back from patrol. That was a pretty touching moment, especially once I confirmed that he didn’t work for the Taliban.
FOH: Do you think that the social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook have made it more difficult for comedians who are really good storytellers to succeed, or are those two kinds of jokes completely separate from each other?
MM: In my experience, the cream rises to the top. If you are really good at doing something people will gravitate towards it. Social Media sites help bad comedians get famous but they certainly do not keep great one’s from getting famous as well. As far as story telling goes, that’s clearly not what Twitter is for, but maybe there is room for a great story told in 150 character installments, social media’s answer to the serialized soap opera? Now some nerd is gonna go make a ton of money.
FOH: What do you have on tap for the next twelve months?
MM: I’m hosting “Attack of the Show” on G4 July 16-20th which I’m very excited about. Then I go perform at the Montreal Comedy Festival for the 3rd time, which is a huge honor. I’m gonna record a set for international TV while I’m up there as well as do some other great shows. I also just shot a scene with Bryan Callen for a new movie called “My Man is a Loser” which comes out in 2013 with John Stamos and Michael Rapaport. Other than that, I’ll be writing, acting, touring, self-promoting, and trying to sell my Comedy Central CD, “The M-Word” which is available here….http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-m-word/id475215671
If you’re in the St. Louis area, you can catch Mo at the Funny Bone from July 12th to the 15th, or visit any of the links below to find out more.
Mo’s Official Website: http://www.momandel.com/
Mo on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/mo.mandel.3
Mo on Twitter: @momandel
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