By Ryan Meehan
Mike Faverman is a nationally touring comedian that has traveled the country performing at clubs and theaters since 1999. Mike received one of the great comedic rewards when he was passed as a paid regular at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles in 2003. He has been featured on Showtime’s Live Nude Comedy, Playboy TV’s Night Calls, NESN Comedy All-Stars and Wealth TV’s Boomer Show as well and many more. He also has his name on the wall at the most famous comedy club in the world, The Comedy Store. Mike has also been seen acting on major TV shows like Sullivan and Son on TBS airing July 2012, Boston Legal and dozens of national commercials. Mike co-created Mac and The Big Cheese and the Ultimate Outdoor Cooking show, also created the 8 DVD series and live performance and the cookbook, Ultimate Camp Cooking. Mike is ecstatic that he was able to combine his two passions, comedy and cooking. Mike also is a writer and director. He produced, directed and starred in the film “Road Dog” that chronicles the struggles and sacrifices of making a living on the road as a stand-up comedian. He has also directed TV pilots, all the cooking DVD’s, short films and dozens of commercials. He is currently developing projects for Dark Sky Pictures and working with some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Mike also just became a critically acclaimed writer with his published cookbook that was world released in Spring 2011, and he’s our guest today in 5 Questions.
FOH: When you first started off as a comedian, did you have any background in improv or were you just focused on standup? Will you always think of yourself first as a comic, or do you think that attitude would be detrimental to your pursuit of acting and directing work?
MF: I was only interested in stand up when I first started, Improv never sparked my interest. I remember seeing Steve Sweeney, a well know Boston comedian, perform at my parents wedding anniversary and from that moment on I knew I wanted to do what he was doing, killing an audience by just being himself.
I think I will always think of myself as a stand up first because it was the first thing I pursued in the entertainment industry, but also I love it and I always will. No one will ever be able to understand or describe the feeling of making a room filled with strangers laugh out loud unless they are great at stand up comedy. The experience is euphoric for both the performer and the audience. I believe stand up is the base for all other aspects of the industry, when I direct projects, I think of things in my head like a stand up first and think of how I will capture this on film. Comedy is basically writing, directing and acting all in one.
FOH: If you had to list the five top comedy clubs in America from a performer’s perspective, what would that list look like? On the other end of the spectrum, what makes for a bad comedy club experience for both the comedians and the patrons?
MF: The best comedy clubs in the country (right now) (they do change over time and through management)
1) Comedy Store, La Jolla My favorite club in the country by far, this is set in the aesthetically beautiful town of La Jolla, the club is gorgeous with a cobble stone entrance and the crowds are energetic filled with beach beauties and energetic audiences. There is an amazing vibe to this club!
2) Comedy Store, Hollywood The only club in the country where there’s No Holds Barred! The ‘Road House’ of comedy clubs. Chairs may fly and fight may break out, there’s no security, (unless you call the comedians that are doormen smoking weed in the back, the security) The history alone at this club makes this club one of the great clubs in the world.
3) Stand up Live, Phoenix AZ This club is well run, classy, great food and they treat the comedians with respect. I like it when I leave my house to go to another city to perform to be treated like they are happy I’m there and grateful for what I do as a comedian.
4) Zanies, Downtown Chicago, IL This is a very small club with strange dimensions to it’s show room, but it is filled with high energy and cool crowds! Right in downtown of Old Town, Chicago, when you do well on stage, you are forced to walk through the crowd after you perform and if they love you, they all grab at you, high fiving you and make you feel like a rock star!
5) Cobbs San Francisco, CA Firstly, you’re in San Fran! Secondly, the club is huge, the staff is cool and the food is mouth watering. They treat their comedians well and the crowds are hip, not hipsters. I love the city and I love the audiences. Definitely one of the best the country has to offer!!!
The way that people think they can treat comedians has to change. Some club owners think that they can just treat the comedians like a mother in laws, barely making them feel at home and almost making them feel like a burden for being there. What amazes me is the people that treat the comedians the worst are the former comedians turned club owners. Maybe they are bitter because it didn’t work out for their unfunny ass, but that’s no reason to treat them like crap. If I’m leaving my house to go somewhere I want to at least be treated as good as I have it at home or why leave at all!
The club has to have security to make sure hecklers do not interrupt the show. Have quality drinks and food and a friendly staff. So many times I see clubs lacking on the fine details of customer service. Make the people who are coming to the shows feel at home. Then they might return and tell their friends. This is basic business, yet comedy clubs usually don’t care less about how they treat the customer.
FOH: What is it about the commercial format that seems to really come natural for you as a director? Is it a lot easier to do that when you’re also in charge of the writing for that particular commercial?
MF: Directing commercials is very much like writing a great joke. There’s a quick set up and a strong punch. It comes easy to me because I’m a pretty good joke writer and I consider myself very visual in my language. I have a strong understanding of making every shot meaningful, informational, but mostly funny. I know funny so I make the content as humorous as possible. I prefer to direct things that I’ve written simply because I understand where the humor came from. Sometimes when I read something that someone else wrote, it’s unclear what they want with what they wrote.
FOH: Do you think that there are a lot of people in the entertainment industry that sometimes try to rush through writing either because they are too busy or they don’t necessarily see how important it is? Does your writing process follow any sort of an outline, or is writing something that you feel you are always doing?
MF: Most people genuinely have no clue how to write. Everyone has their own technique, but in order to be a great writer, you must be an amazing re-writer and extremely disciplined. I’m not one to sit and force myself to write because I think it leads to superfluous dribble, however I’ll come up with ideas, I’ll write them down and over time I will build layers to each premise. Sometimes I will write on stage as well, trying new lines, trying a different angle or direction to a joke, linking two jokes together with similar premises and doing improv on an idea. The best way to come up with new material for me is to talk freely about my life and experiences in my life at the time. My advice is to keep writing and like anything else find your voice and technique eventually. It may take a long time, but thankfully there is no time limit in comedy. Genuinely not caring because of repetition and habit leads to serendipity in ones artistry if you’re willing to take risks.
FOH: For those who may not be familiar with it, what’s “Ultimate Camp Cooking”? What’s the weirdest thing that you’ve ever cooked in the time that you’ve been doing those?
MF: Ultimate Camp Cooking is a show I created that combines live stand up and instructional cooking for the outdoor genre with my comedian cooking partner Pat Mac, however the show’s name has changed. We are now called, Mac and The Big Cheese and the Ultimate Outdoor Cooking show. We encapsulate good times in the great outdoors with food. friends, family and funny. We bring people together with food and laughter with our DVD series, published cookbook, apparel line, foods, and equipment line. We started doing a few shows a year and now we are up to 30 to 35 weeks of touring a year. The company has grown fast because of the positive energy of feeding people and making them laugh. This company is gaining popularity quickly and we are proud that several production companies have approached us about our own TV show. Check out the website, UltimateOutdoorCooking.com
FOH: What’s next for Mike Faverman in the twelve months that follow? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
MF: I will be building this company and growing as an entertainer. My goal is to be a household for the comedy cooking show, I want to be the e-commerce leader for anything outdoors, but I also want to improve my stand up and try to get to the next level.
We have been approached for our own TV show for Mac and The Big Cheese, so we will be working with companies to create a show. We will be featured on the Travel Channel on a show called ‘Exposed’ in January for 2 episodes.
I have been doing a cool podcast taped at the Jon Lovitz podcast theater at Universal Studios Hollywood called, Foodie Forum. You can check that out of the GoCastNetwork or Ustream.tv. This show talks about Food and Funny and each episode we talk about recipes and stories all related to food. This is a fun show to do!
We will be touring extensively in the year to come building the fan base and most importantly enjoying my life entertaining people and trying to be a better person!
Official Wesbite:UltimateOutdoorCooking.com, MikeFaverman.com
Mike on Twitter: @mfaverman @macandthebigchz @foodiepodcast
Mike on Facebook: facebook.com/mfaverman
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