by Ryan Meehan
Raised in Yonkers, Mitch Fatel began doing standup comedy at just 15 years old. In 1998 Fatel attended NYU/Tisch School of the Arts and majored in Film and Acting Studies, and around that time he began working as an intern on The Howard Stern Show. He’s also responsible for introducing Howard to former 5Q alumnus Stuttering John, and took home honors as the “Best Stand-Up Comedian” at the 2006 Aspen Comedy Festival. He currently hosts an extremely adult-themed show on Sirius/XM’s Howard 101, and we are very lucky to have him as our guest today in 5 Questions.
FOH: When you got your first break in the entertainment industry as an intern on “The Howard Stern Show”, you had already been doing standup for a couple of years. Did you ever feel at the beginning that there were people who worked on that show who believed that you were just using it as a platform to launch your standup career, and if so how did you deal with that?
MF: Well, to say I was launching a stand up career would have been terribly wrong. I don’t think anyone really launches it, it’s more like a slow sick whimpering crawl.
Everyone on the show knew I wanted to be stand up but no one really thought I was going to ever make it. I was upset by this looking back, but I understand why now they said it. Basically it’s because no one ever makes it as a stand up comedian. The odds are astronomical and everyone and their Mom says they want to be stand up. I was, at first, just another dumb kid saying I would be famous. I realized after working there for a few months I would have to leave and prove myself. That’s why I never mentioned I worked on the show for years, I wanted to prove to myself, and them, that I did it on my own. Years later Howard told me he respected me for my success and I was hysterically funny and he was proud of me for going out and making it. It was the best moment of my life.
FOH: Who were the comedians you looked up to when you were younger and what is it about their material that sparked your interest? And in your opinion who is the best living comic working today?
MF: I loved Steve Martin, as a kid, for his silliness and ability to be goofy and make money at it. My taste today in comedy is so eclectic. My faves go from Dave Attell to Louis CK to Brian Regan. I love all types of comedy, just as long as it’s original. I used to watch the Letterman show in the 80’s and saw many careers launched that inspired me to be a comedian.
Gilbert Gotfried, Steven Wright and Jake Johanssen are a few that come to
FOH: You did a show in Beirut, Lebanon this summer. What is the typical response to explicit comedy over there in the Middle East? Is there anything about your show that you had to change compared to if you were doing a weekend at Caroline’s in NYC?
MF: Lebanon was an amazing experience. Seeing people laugh while they were wearing explosives is a great motivator to be funny. I also just played South Africa and I loved it as well. I loved seeing the material that I had written over the last 15 years being disseminated to an entirely new audience. It was very satisfying to know I can make people laugh thousands of miles from home.
FOH: Your radio show “Sex and Swinging with Mitch and Jessica” premiered on Howard 101 back in March. When were you introduced to that lifestyle and were you nervous at first? Is there anything that you won’t discuss on that show or do you have free reign to talk about pretty much whatever you want?
MF: The show is actually changing names to “The dirty dirty show” because honestly we realized we weren’t swingers. Jessica is just a bisexual freak who likes to watch me have sex with girls. Eventually we will swing in the sense that we believe each partner should be allowed to “sample” other “stuff” but we’re never going to be swingers that go to clubs and swap with any couple around. Unless the girl is super hot. Then I would consider it : )
FOH: How has comedy changed in the past two decades that you’ve been working?
MF: I think American audiences have changed in two ways in the last 20 years that I’ve seen. First, it’s harder to shock people. When I played Lebanon and South Africa it reminded me what comedy used to be like. People were more reverent and revered it as the art form it is. They were shocked when they were supposed to be, laughed at the right points and quiet in the right areas. American audiences take comedy for granted too much. They heckle more and think they can be part of the show. This is “our” own fault. As an industry, too many people are let on stage who aren’t stand up comedians. Since there are so many clubs, too many owners will put up acts that aren’t ready. Once an audience member sees someone they are better than, they lose respect for the act and rightfully so wonder why they’re not on stage too, so heckling becomes a part of the life.
FOH: What’s the most unusual thing that’s happened to you in all of your years performing standup?
MF: I became sexy. When I was in high school I was never considered sexy. But once I started doing stand up I started getting offers from girls that never would have looked at me. Not only did they want to sleep with me, they said I was hot. I never stop thanking the comedy gods for that. Needless to say I’m glad I ignored my parents and did this instead of college!
FOH: What’s next for Mitch Fatel in the twelve months to come?
MF: I’m getting married. That’s the biggest change I’ve ever experienced in my life. I never thought that would be me, then I met a girl more perverted then I ever was and the bride of Fatel was born. I’m having sex with her right now as I write this. In fact, she’s writing this and I’m doing her in the butt. (Only joking, she’s doing me in the butt)
Mitch will be appearing at the DC Improv from September 27-30 and LOL Comedy Club in San Antonio from October 4th-7th. Please check out the social networking links below for more Mitch Fatel.
Mitch on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mitchfatel
Mitch on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mitchfatel
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