By Ryan Meehan
Mike Recine is a funny, nice person who is sometimes awkward and anxious. He started comedy in Jersey at the age of 18 in 2006 and mostly performed for his very large Italian family. Since moving to New York in 2007 Mike has headlined top venues around the city and country. In 2010 he was nominated for Time Out New York’s ‘~Joke of the Year’ and an ECNY award for ‘~Best Emerging Comic’ . He was selected to perform in the ‘~New Faces Showcase’ at the 2011 Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal. Mike works really hard on his jokes and on being likeable. He owns 5 pellet guns and is happy to give you one. We are delighted to have him as our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: What was your upbringing like? Did you come from a family situation that was very conducive towards sharing jokes and poking fun at one another? Did you start out by doing any impressions when you were just trying to make your family laugh?
MR: Yeah, my family is from Jersey and has a very blue-collar mentality, and I think that helped a lot. My mom’s parents worked for GM for many years, and my Dad’s family ran a restaurant in Trenton for like fifty years. They were immigrants who knew that life is hard, so deal with it and stop your whining…And don’t be so sensitive. My mom and grandma don’t really consider your feelings if there is something important they need to tell you. It definitely errs on the side of cruelty sometimes, but I’ve always felt that insensitivity was super funny and they helped me develop that. I did a few impressions, and I do a lot of my family today. I was the middle grandkid who nobody really gave a shit about so I had to do something, it wasn’t like they were just going to hand over love and support.
RM: What was your first paid gig like; and did you feel any extra pressure on that night to elevate your performance to the point where people got what you were being compensated for?
MR: It was in Carlstadt, NJ at a banquet hall where I followed a Sinatra impersonator. He was really old and I felt bad for him. I went up and got barely any laughs. I got the gig because I won a contest in Bayonne and the prize was a $100 check and ten paid spots (they paid $25) throughout the year, throughout New Jersey. I was living in Brooklyn and one weekend they gave me three. My cousin drove me to all the spots and if he had asked me to chip in for gas, I would have lost money. Also, they promised ten spots and gave me four. I didn’t feel that much pressure, cuz the gig only paid $25 and it was on a dance floor. I think I just wanted to get my money and fuck off.
RM: A lot of your recent shows in town are at The Stand…Would you consider that to be your home club? What is it about the atmosphere of that place that allows for comics to get the most out of their set?
MR: They’ve been really good to me recently. I love that room, and I think they got everything right. There’s a lot of logistical things that are important for a good comedy show: Low ceilings, people sitting close together, and the room should be dark. I think especially for the kind of comedy that I do, which is sometimes about uncomfortable subject matter, people laugh harder when the room is dark and no one is judging them. There is nothing worse than a comedy room where the lights are on and we can all see each other. It creates too much tension. I think The Stand is also the best hang for you if you’re a comic, whether or not you’re on the show you can sit at the bar, sit down for dinner, or watch the show in the back of the room. The place rules. So does their bread pudding.
RM: Do you think working standup comics don’t get the respect that they deserve in the entertainment industry; or that the amount of respect that they get is fair? Do you focus a great deal on commanding respect for doing what it is that you do for a living; or would you rather put that energy towards your live show?
MR: Whether we do or not is inconsequential? Show business is full of phonies, dummies, followers and people who like what they are told to like. So I don’t think that should be something a standup is should be concerned about. The respect of my peers is important, and it feels good when comics that you think are funny like what you do, but I think standup comics are supposed to exist on the periphery of show business. We’re supposed to be the bold, uncensored voice of a guy with nothing to lose and not the guy who is worried about something getting taken away from him. We’re supposed to watch the trailer for the new Peter Sarsgaard movie and be like “Look at this jerk off.”
RM: You mention in you bio that you are often anxious…How do you deal with that anxiety when you are either the last performer of the evening? Does it build up to the point where you ever feel like it affects you on stage?
MR: My ex-girlfriend wrote that shitty bio two years ago. I’ve been meaning to have it changed. But yeah, a couple years ago I had pretty crippling anxiety, but it was crippling because I kept trying to alleviate it. I felt like it was wrong that I had it and I needed it to go away. Now, I’ve accepted the fact that anxiety is just part of being a human. Whatever our feelings are, there is probably some chemical reason for them, and they’re always going to be there and also they’re just feelings. And when you think about it, it’s childish to want to feel good all the time. Just do what you have to do and live your life. Pay your bills, be nice to people, and stop being so self-obsessed.
RM: Do you feel like you got kind of a head start on some of your peers because you were able to start doing comedy at such a young age? At what age did you really feel like you had it together and that you could do this at the professional level?
MR: Absolutely I do. I think being a good comic takes a certain amount of wisdom and life experience. It’s rare that anyone wants to hear a 22-year-old’s take on life. But there are still a lot of technical things you need to learn that only come with time. Things like confidence, connection, eye contact, pacing, riffing, what to do with your hands. So if you are a young kid (cuz I do this for the kids) and you think you want to make standup a career, my question to you is “What the fuck are you waiting for?” Get out and do it. Go find some open mics. Go suck for a few years.
RM: Have you ever considered doing a podcast? Would you consider that market to be a little bit oversaturated at the moment; and if so does that have something to do with the fact that you don’t have one?
MR: Yeah, but I do want to do one eventually. Maybe the market is over-saturated, but maybe it’s not. For every comic that has a podcast, how many people are there who need stuff to listen to on their commutes or at work or cleaning their house or whatever? Even me in my civilian life, I always need stuff to listen to, and I want stuff that’s free and downloadable. I think that if you have stuff to say people will want to listen to it. I’ve had an idea for a relationship show I wanted to do for a while, I just haven’t really had the time to sit down and record. It seems like a lot of work. It’s probably not, but it feels like it is.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about? MR: Yeah, not really. I’m roasting Dan St Germain on the 10th of June. But you can see all my New York City dates at mikerecine.com. I also do some of my best work on Facebook, so send me a friend request with a message and I’ll add you.
Official Website: http://www.mikerecine.com/
Mike on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mike.recine.7
Mike on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mikerecine
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