by Ryan Meehan
Andrew Michaan is a comedian living in Los Angeles. He has regularly performed at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, the Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival, and the Riot LA Comedy Festival. He grew up in the woods of Colorado, did some more growing up in the woods of Portland, and now lives in the heavily wooded area of Los Angeles where he hopes to finally complete his journey of self-growth. Andrew produces and co-hosts Good Looks, a monthly live show in downtown Los Angeles, and he’s my guest today in 10 questions.
RM: First off, how has this year been going for you so far? What was your best memory of the New Year’s Eve show in Oakland?
AM: Great year! I think 2015 is definitely a year. One of the ones. I can feel it. The NYE show I put together in Oakland was super fun. I was able to assemble a lineup of incredible comedians / friends, and the night was a total success. My favorite moment was when we sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at midnight with a theater full of people, all backed by a professional organist.
RM: “Good Looks” is monthly show that you host at 1018 South Santa Fe Avenue…How do you go about assembling a cast of comics for that event? Is there a certain style of comedian that seems to work best with the theme of that show and the atmosphere of that room?
AM: I co-produce and co-host the show with Ian Karmel, and we’re very particular about who we invite to perform. There’s no theme to the show, we simply choose people who are funny and unique and impressive and not boring. There’s such a vast pool of talent to choose from in Los Angeles that it’s always easy to put together a fun show.
RM: What are the three most important elements to consider when purchasing a button-down shirt?
AM: 1. It’s blue or off-blue. 2. It’s unique without being loud. 3. It’s not haunted.
RM: What gave you the idea to open some of your sets with the prayer bit? Is that something that you still do when you are in a room where a majority of the audience has not seen your act?
AM: I’m not sure where the prayer came from. I wasn’t raised religious and I’ve never prayed in earnest. I think it’s just a fun way to play with expectations about how young and innocent I look, and it’s quite effective at gathering attention and slowing things down a bit. I still do it when starting a set in a room full of people who haven’t seen my act. But I only do it if the room has a theater/performance setup, ideally with a raised stage. I don’t do that bit in a more intimate setting because it’s too performative of a piece for that. When you’re in a small room with few people, they want to connect and feel like you’re actually talking to them, not performing a structured piece.
RM: One of the most interesting lines I heard you say from the YouTube clip that I saw was “I’d like to show you who I am by showing you who I’m not”…What percentage of comedy today do you think is based off of comics becoming a completely different person when they hit the stage; and was that whole portion of the clip taking a bit of a jab at comedians who essentially play a character the second they take the mic off of that stand?
AM: Oh, that bit isn’t a jab at other comedians playing characters. The best comedians are characters of themselves, usually just a heightened version of some aspect of their personality. I have no problem with that. That bit is about the expectations an audience has based on how you look, and how I’m trying to move past that by deceiving them and upending their initial judgments. All audiences have a judgment based on how you look, and it’s up to you to address that and use it as part of your act. Or something…
RM: You have a very low-key, subdued delivery that is extremely calming to watch…Is that something that is done intentionally to put the audience at ease and get them to laugh easier, or is it more done for the sake of maintaining your own sanity and having total control over the room simply by being yourself?
AM: I’m not consciously trying put the audience at ease or anything, it’s just how my “comedy speaking voice” has evolved over time.
RM: You did a show at Nerdmelt back in early March with Demetri Martin, Neal Brennan, Beth Stelling, Randy Liedtke, and Jake Weisman…Do you ever feel that when you’re on a bill like that you have to really step your comedy game up even more than usual given that all of those comics are absolutely killing it and have been for several years now? Also, can Weisman take a photograph of anything in his apartment without there being a knife in the shot?
AM: Yeah that was a fun show. I don’t really “step up my game” for specific shows, I always try my best and do what I think is funny and what seems to work over time. It’s really inspiring and encouraging to be in a scene like Los Angeles where there are so many talented people. Jake loves knives and I support his right to do love who/what he wants.
RM: What would you say is the biggest misconception about individuals who work in the industry of stand-up comedy? Why do you think that particular inaccuracy is so common outside of the inner circle; and is there any real hope that perception will change anytime within the near future?
AM: The biggest misconception is that all comedians are depressed/pathetic/self-deprecating. I’ve always had a problem with that stereotype. I don’t know why it’s so pervasive. Maybe that used to be more true, but the comedians I like watching and the comedians I choose to be friends with are happy people who do comedy because they’re funny, not because they’re losers who have nothing else going for them. I always prefer watching a performer who is happy and confident and likable.
RM: When you watch video clips of yourself performing, which facet of your presentation do you tend to analyze first? For what reason do you tend to focus on that characteristic of your act?
AM: Definitely my abs. My abs are awesome but on camera they always look a bit off.
RM: Which portion of the joke writing process would you say that you struggle with the most and why? Conversely, which aspect of the joke writing process would you say is your specialty? Why do you think you tend to excel at that particular aspect of the craft?
AM: Sometimes when I’ve done a joke many times, but there’s something missing, it’s very difficult to improve it because it’s so ingrained in my head the way I have it. I don’t really have a specialty. I say things that I think are funny and I try to say them in a smart and original way. I place a lot of importance on being unique in my joke structure or delivery, because as a straight white male doing stand-up comedy it’s important to be memorable.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2015 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
AM: I’m doing some festivals at the end of May in Portland and Denver, and I’m working on a bunch of video projects in Los Angeles that I’m excited about. And I’ll be Tweeting all year, baby!!!
Official Website: http://www.andrewmichaan.com/
Andrew on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michaan
Andrew on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndrewMichaan
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