by Ryan Meehan
Having started in church, Mike Paramore has performed and competed in various venues. In addition to being a former featured comic for Time Warner Cable OnDemand, Mike was a finalist in the World Series of Comedy in Las Vegas, and the grand prize winner of the 2015 Cleveland Comedy Festival. Using his love of providing people a break from the stresses of real life as motivation, Mike has become a nationally touring comic whose natural style of comedy afforded him the opportunity to opening for comedians like Damon Wayans, ‘Cash Cab’s’ Ben Bailey, Jon Lovitz, and Saturday Night Live’s Jay Pharaoh. In addition to performing at the 2010 Stellar Awards and being a part of the 2012 Just For Laughs Festival in Chicago, Mike is also current cast member on FOX TV’s “Laughs”. Also as the Senior Artistic Director of Good Jokes Live! Comedy & Improv, Paramore brings comedy to the masses and we are happy to have him as our guest today in 10 questions.
RM: When did you first come to the realization that you had a significant knack for humor? How long afterwards did you actually decide to get up on stage and tell jokes in front of an audience?
MP: While being the anti-center of attention type of person my friends have always thought I was funny, but I never had an inclination to take it any further than the lunch table or our group. All my life I’d been a football player so when I got injured and couldn’t play anymore, I started to venture out and think of things I’d like to try. One of the things I’ve always enjoyed watching was comedy improv games, so I went to an improv show and decided that I was going to step outside of my box and try it. Little did I know to audition for The Improv team they wanted me to do a stand-up set – which I now know they to have nothing to do with one another – so against everything inside of me I decided to give it a shot. It was one of the most scary things I’ve ever done but it went well, however being the non center of attention type of person that I am I didn’t want to do it again. Once my sister heard about me doing stand-up she told my church and they asked me to host an event. Well you can’t say no to the church, so I did it, then I did another event, and another. Doing about three shows in a year at the end of that year – still not a fan of the stage – I got peer-pressured into joining the local Funny Bone competition in Columbus, Ohio, finished second, and that’s when the recognition of people asking me to do things outside of Columbus started, and the snowballing began (laughs) which led me to where I am today.
RM: As someone who got their first break performing in front of a religious crowd, do you feel as if your introduction to comedy put you in a direction where working clean was the best option for you? If you had to do fifteen minutes of subject matter that would be considered dirty in a tough room where the circumstances called for it, how do you think that set would go?
MP: Until you get famous you can’t pick your audience, and to be a successful comedian you have to be able to navigate around whoever comes to your show and or whoever’s offering to pay you. Starting in church just gave me the ability to work clean with ease, which is a quality that will earn you the most in the long run because it will remove the limits from where you can work. Being able to navigate and know when and where to be clean or blue is something comedians learn from experience but like I stated before the background in church just makes it a lot easier, I have the ability to do churches and to do a rowdy bar if needed.
RM: What do we need to know about Good Jokes Live; and who are some of the other individuals involved with that organization?
MP: Good Jokes Live is a company I run which is pretty much just a network of comedians that allows for a little bit more flexibility than just one comedian booking himself. We pride ourselves in finding the right comedian for the right gig, and I base my search on the client’s budget and not a hard number that limits the client’s options. We do the legwork for the client, because most people in the corporate sector are not familiar with comedy so it’s just a lot easier to have us helping. You may not know the comedian’s name, but from our reviews – I’m sure you can tell – you’ll have one heck of a show.
RM: What gave you the idea to add the “Things We Tell Ourselves” section on your website? What conclusions have you been able to draw based on the data that has been submitted in those polls?
MP: Honestly that was just a silly idea I had to keep my website traffic up. (laughs) I was a Psychology major in college and I love to know how and what people think, I think the way a person’s mind works is interesting, so I used to do a weekly poll.
RM: You recently had a chance to perform on FOX’s “Laughs”, which is produced by Steve Hoffstetter and features a ton of other comics that are based out of the Midwest…What was the best part of that whole experience for you; and who were some of the people that were by your side when you watched it on television for the first time?
MP: The best part of that experience was seeing how people react to my comedy in places that I was previously unable to reach. I’ve gotten messages, followers, and friend requests from cities that I’ve never been to, and it’s been really fun to share my comedy with those people. There’s no way I can watch myself do comedy with other people around (laughs) so I made sure I was by myself the first time.
RM: Now that you’ve entered the part of your career where you will likely be doing more TV work, do you think you’ll be making any major adjustments to the way you approach those spots as opposed to the way you handle your duties at comedy clubs? Why or why not?
MP: Well all comedy is different, whether it’s a corporate gig, a comedy club gig, a cruise ship, a college gig, or an audition or TV spot. All those require a different skill set which you must learn…I don’t care how funny you are in a club you can completely botch an audition or a TV set. So to answer your question, yes, to further my career I must learn how to master the differences in between the venues, which I haven’t yet. (laughs)
RM: Staying on that topic, when you watch video clips of yourself performing which aspects of your standup do you tend to be the most critical of? Why do you think your collective psyche gravitates to that portion of your act before all of the others?
MP: My transitions and facial expressions. I am a stickler for transitions, as I like my set to be cohesive and conversational. There’s nothing wrong with jumping around on topics, but for my taste I need the transition to be clear and seamless if for no other reason than I have a horrible memory and it helps me remember my set. (laughs) I’m not a very animated person on stage or in real life so I pay close attention to my facial expressions because I use those to try and engage the audience, and relay some type of emotion in the joke or story.
RM: What’s the most bizarre thing that has happened to you onstage in all of your years doing this? How did you react in that situation; and if it happened to you tonight how would you handle it differently?
MP: Probably the most bizarre thing to happen to me while on stage was when I was telling a joke about how beautiful women are usually buttholes because men don’t call them on their crap. I pointed out this girl in the front row and told her she was extremely gorgeous so the odds are she was a huge butthole, so she stepped onstage to grab the microphone and tell everybody she wasn’t a butthole. I didn’t really know what to do because it was super ironic, you were trying to convince everyone you’re not a butthole by doing one of the most butthole things that could happen at that moment – walking on stage during a live show to interrupt. It kind of played perfectly into my joke so I probably would react the same now as I did then, which was pointing out the irony and also point out that the guy she was sitting with began to rub her shoulders when she sat back down and not call her on the butthole stuff she just did.
RM: In what ways have your tendencies to work material out of your act changed in the time since your first began doing this? Do you have any rule as far as how you quantify how long you hold onto a bit that is struggling before you eventually give up on it?
MP: I’m a lot more lenient on what I take to the stage now than I was when I first started. I used to wait for perfection until taking a bit to the stage, whereas now I’ve gotten a little bit more experience so I realize that a joke is never finished – you just start working on it. Not to say a joke cant peak, there is a perfect number of tags depending on the joke itself but that all depends on where you go with it, and that’s the difference between a joke and a bit. Now I try to be a little bit more carefree about jokes almost to the point of writing while performing, and letting myself explore a joke in real time.
RM: Which current trend in the business of standup comedy irritates you the most? Why do you think that fad is so troublesome to yourself and others in your peer group?
MP: (laughs) That’s a loaded question which could have a very lengthy answer. But I will say this: All the tendencies of this business that may irritate comics derives from there being so many comics. Whatever you won’t do, another comic will, so clubs and bookers take full advantage of that fact in many different ways. I’m not sure who’s reading this so I can’t go into detail, but comedy is a business and that’s something that you have to remember if you’re going to do it for real.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2016 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
MP: 2016 is the year I’m trying to spread my wings and venture out into different avenues getting my name out there, starting with performing on FOX’s “Laughs”, (check your local listings) YouTube, and continuing with the release of my debut album “The Things We Tell Ourselves” recorded for me by New Wave Entertainment, that should be released sometime this summer.
Official Website: http://www.mikeparamore.com/
Mike on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mikeparamorecomedy
Mike on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mikeparamorejr
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