Silly Situation

There’s a big difference between a comic who sticks to a script and one who can work a crowd even if he’s memorized his material perfectly.
Mike Paramore is one of those guys who comes to gigs prepared, but if an opportunity presents itself with someone in his audience, he will take the hint and take the show in a direction even he didn’t see coming. He loves spontaneity and mingling with his crowd because everyone is there for one reason, to have as much fun as possible.
Paramore might just be the guy you’re lucky enough to sit next to on a plane or a boring event. His natural ability to infuse everyday situations with energetic, uplifting humor, combined with his easy-going nature, is the conduit to his own brand of comedy that doesn’t need to be dirty.
He is becoming a force in stand-up, with his smooth delivery and powerful punchlines. His debut album, The Things We Tell Ourselves is available on iTunes and Amazon.
He’s performed at the 2010 Stellar Awards, the 2012 Just for Laughs Festival, and he was a finalist in the 2014 World Series of Comedy in Las Vegas. He was a winner of the 2015 Cleveland Comedy Festival, the 2016 Laughing Devil Festival in New York City, and winner of the 2017 Laugh Fest’s Best in the Midwest competition.
He was featured on AX TV’s “Live at Gotham” in New York City, and on the FOX hit show, “Laughs.” Check out Paramore’s page on Instagram to follow his comedic journey.
We talked with him about his comedy, his career and the show he brings to Laughlin. Here’s his take…

Talk a little about your background and how you got into comedy.
Well, I am a mama’s boy from Cleveland, Ohio. I would probably say the idea of me doing comedy never registered because I’m a quiet introvert off-stage. But there’s just something about the instant gratification of affecting somebody’s life with laughter. I haven’t figured out if I get to be who I really am on stage.

Maybe it’s a little of both?
I’m still figuring that out, if it’s who I really am or I get a break from it, but the instant gratification is the thing. If I say something, you tell me right then what you think about it. It’s hard to bare your soul because people are not only paying attention to you, but they’re paying attention with expectations — they want something from you.
But there’s nothing like finding out what they want and supplying it. Comics don’t know how much they affect people’s lives. They tell me such heartfelt things after a show or they’ve listened to my album and talk about how it changed them in some little way, or it was the trajectory of their thought process for that day. I didn’t get into comedy voluntarily, but I’m glad I’m in it now.

Was there a Plan “B”?
Comedy was never in my plans at all. I was sitting in my basement and listening to Richard Pryor albums, but you couldn’t tell me I was going to be a comedian. In my mind, I was going to play football. I ended up getting hurt and sitting on the couch for six months, and I wanted to do something. I wanted to do something weird. I had a friend who had an improv team and he wanted me to audition. I thought, “I can act silly, and let everyone do their thing, while I do my introvert thing.” But when he wanted me to audition, he wanted me to do a five-minute set of stand-up. I was like, wow, I don’t want to do that at all. I ended up doing it and it went very well. I told myself, I will never do that again in my life. I was relieved when I came off the stage but that feeling of getting a laugh was great. That first 10 minutes when you walk on are the worst, and the first joke didn’t go over. But the second one got a laugh and that was the best feeling in my life.
My sister was at that show and she told my church I was a comedian. “Why would you do that,” I asked her. “I’m not a comedian.” Then the church asked me to host an event, and I can’t say no to the church, so I ended up doing it and liked it, so I began hosting other events. A couple friends signed me up for a comedy competition without my knowledge. I found out because I got a call from the club to secure my spot. So I ended up doing that and I finished second in that competition. The prize was automatic entry into another competition and I finished second in that one and the prize was a one-week hosting gig at the club. It was a snowball effect that lasted two years. I didn’t have to go after gigs or search gigs actively that whole time. I was actively avoiding it. Then it hit me, people are trying to give me money for this, so why not try it and see what happens, and I’m living happily ever after.

What are your thoughts about comedy?
I find it to be nerve-wracking, but I’m happy about it. It’s funny that people search for excitement or something that gives them some sort of satisfaction that gives them a purpose. They seek out thrills to feel nervous or scared and my job supplies all of it. I get to feel a lot of those emotions and that’s my job. They seek them and I go to work.
My giant revelation is life distributes talent equally, but not opportunity. You have to find ways to create your opportunities. You’d be surprised how little being funny has to do with comedy when it comes to making it big. Maybe you make a dumb video or you know the right person instead of trying to work on your set. Some get lucky, but those opportunities are few and far between.

Who are your influences?
I like storytellers, so I like Bill Burr, Brian Regan is another good storyteller, and so is Dave Chappell. A lot of guys I like are not more famous and those who are hungry and haven’t made it make the best comics. They are hilarious because they’re trying hard to get to that point.

Describe your comedy for people who may not be aware.
I’m an observational storyteller. I talk about what I see. I’m not good at making up stuff — 98 percent of my stuff happened to me or to somebody I know. I embellish to make a situation funnier. I studied psychology so my perspectives are super weird. I talk about dating — I even give relationship advice on the radio in Cleveland — there’s a lot of that in my set, nuggets of advice to make it funny to help people.

What was the worst experience you had doing comedy?
I did a 60th birthday party for this lady and I walk in the room, which was pretty full, and I thought, “okay this might go well.” The lady who hired me showed me the venue and I’m like, ‘Where’s the stage?” Her response was “what stage.” She didn’t know I needed a stage. It’s not necessary, but if I want to connect with everybody I stand a little higher so I can see them. I thought, maybe I’ll just walk around a bit, but then she suggested a corner I could stand in. I asked if she had a microphone with a stand, but she didn’t’ know I needed one of those, too. I reminded her she told me she had all the stuff I asked for in my little rider. So she got this karaoke machine, and not a good one, but she literally had a child’s karaoke machine with a chord tethered to one little speaker. I tried to make it work. Finally I get up in the corner where the “stage” was supposed to me and only half the crowd could hear me and the other half couldn’t so they played with their phones. There was utter silence except for one lady who laughed. I think it would have been better if the entire room of 100 people were all silent. I’d only done about 25 minutes, but it felt like three hours, then the lady said, “don’t worry about it,” meaning I should just go. The worst part, having to walk past all the people who saw me. It felt like the longest walk ever.

What’s your favorite thing about being a comedian?
There are two things. When I found out how much I could affect someone’s life in a positive way and I might help someone by being silly and stupid, in a significant way. Second, I get to see the world. I’ve also worked on cruise ships and comedy has taken me to places I didn’t even imagine could happen. I’m humbled and grateful I get to do that.

What’s your least favorite thing about being a comedian?
Treatment and travel. You’d be very surprised how very little people at some clubs care about comedians even though you’re helping with their livelihood. They want to pay you a small amount because even if you won’t take the gig, they know someone else will, with the thinking comedians are a dime a dozen — there are so many terrible comics, so the profession is not highly regarded. Sometimes when you travel to a club, they won’t pick you up from the airport, or if hotel accommodations are included, it’s a crappy hotel. Sometimes you end up on planes all day, getting to and from places is super tough and you run into bookers or clubs that remind you, you’re not super important.

How do you handle hecklers?
I get heckled now and again, but I like it. I like stepping outside of written jokes and exploring the moments. If I can make it funny, I don’t have a problem with it. Sometimes a person is loud and drunk and they don’t know they’re heckling because they’re having a good time. They like me and they’re not being buttheads on purpose, they’re on my side too loudly. I don’t want to cuss them out, but I can’t listen to them for 50 minutes either. I consider myself witty, so I try to use comedy to change the situation.


COMEDY ON THE EDGE

The Edge Lounge within the Edgewater

Friday-Sunday, Feb. 21-23 (7 p.m.)

See “Showtimes” for ticket info