Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Michael Gershe Interview

Michael Gershe uses humor to connect an audience with his personal story, a story that touches the hearts of many young people and their families. Through his educational awareness program called The Magic of Life, he combines stand-up comedy with a powerful message - don't drink and drive and don't let others drink and drive. Not only is Michael a stand-up comedian, but he educates, advocates, and inspires others. One of the messages that jumps out at you in his Magic of Life program is: 

Life is precious. 
If you can touch your fingers to your neck and feel a pulse, "it's a great day."

Q1. Were you funny as a kid? 

Yes, but not distracting in class (well, not too much). 
Q2. How did you get into comedy? 

My grandfather took me to the magic store as a kid and I was hooked. My influences were Harry Anderson, Robin Williams, and Abbott and Costello, but being a comedy magician was my start. I have been writing material since high school and would even practice my material in speech class. It was just something I wanted to do. 

Q3. What was your first experience as a comedian? 

It was horrible. I was 18 doing an open mic night at Uncle Funny's. I was scared because it was my first time on stage without magic (aids). I might have gotten a few laughs, but not that many. Fortunately, I kept at it. 

Q4. When did you first start getting paid? 

About six months after my first open mic at the Akron Hilarities. 

Q5. When/where was your first big break? 

Still waiting for it! lol ...but I would say, Akron Hilarities. Today, it's Funny Stop. 

Q6. Is there a central theme inherent in your comedy? 

My stand-up comedy is more topical and observational. My program is focused on embracing life and tragedies that can occur due to drunk driving, a behavior that could easily be changed by adopting a more positive mindset.

Q7. Who are your favorite comedians? 

Seinfeld, due to his writing and presentation style. Not gut-busting funny all the time, but his writing is incredible and I appreciate how he phrases his bits. Brian Reagan is amazing to watch because he will take simple ideas and just make them into incredible material. He is also very animated. Greg Morton, one of the nicest guys int he business and fun to watch live, has a smooth style. When I see Carl LaBove's act, I ask myself, "What the hell am I doing on stage?" This guy is so animated, he has a great pace, and takes us with him. It's fantastic to experience. He's known as one of the outlaws of comedy. 

Q8. What do you aspire to achieve as a comedian? 

I just want the audience leaving in a better mood than when they came in. To make them laugh and forget about their problems for a bit. I do a fun alcohol awareness / drunk driving program and use comedy, so that allows me to be different than many other speakers, but in both acts, I just want to create a temporary escape for people. 

Q9. Do you read books on humor? 

I try to focus on my own material and not influence it by reading others. 
Q10. Do you keep joke records? 

I have tons of material in folders dating back years and years.

Q11. How did you come up with the material for your act? 

I usually write more if I know I have a gig coming up. I will read/watch the news for topical events, but if I observe something that I find interesting, I'll write about it. 

Q12. How often do you revise your act? 

Not as often as I should, but sometimes I will drop things and go with new bits, it just depends on how much time I have on stage and what I feel like performing in that set. For the most part, I try to incorporate a new bit into each act. 

Q13. Name a few of your favorite movies. 

Stripes, Comedian, Airplane, Something About Mary, Star Wars, Breakfast Club, Rocky, Trading Places

Q14. Are you active on social networking sites? 

Yes, I'm on Facebook. 

Q15. Which performance was your favorite? 

The recent Magic of Life performance I did for the United States Marine Corps in Washington, D.C. 

Some of my most memorable performances have been fundraisers for Wounded Soldiers and for Cancer research.  

Q16. As a professional in the field of comedy, how did it feel the first time you made someone laugh? 

It felt awesome, just awesome.

Thank you, Michael! 

For more information on Michael Gershe, please visit his website at: 

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