Recently, Mass Laughs had an opportunity to sit down with comedian Mike Lemme. Mike will be the opening comedian in the July 19th Mass Laughs comedy show at the Academy of Music theatre, which will be headlined by Ted Alexandro. Mike's credits include Nickelodeon, PBS, and preforming as a guest warm-up comedian at Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.
Mass Laughs: How long have you been performing stand up comedy?
Mike Lemme: That's a tough question- I started when I was in high school, but was only doing it once or twice a month. Now, I try to perform two to three times a night. I say I've been taking it seriously for 5 or 6 years.
Mass Laughs: You have performed out of Western Mass, Boston, LA and now New York, how has your approach to comedy changed over the years?
Mike Lemme: Right now, I'm just trying to enjoy constant improvement. I used to be stressed out about not getting certain things I wanted, but looking back, I definitely wasn't ready for anything other than open mics and bar shows. I think it's healthy to be delusional about your comedy, it motivates you to keep working, but you also need to have fun on the journey. Who knows what will happen?
Mass Laughs: How has it changed depending on the location?
Mike Lemme: NYC has motivated me more than any other city. You never know who you'll be performing with, so you always have to be prepared to step your game up every night. I'm sure that's the same in LA, but there's just something different about being in New York City, especially Greenwich Village. It just feels different. The history. The struggle. It's all motivation. Another cool thing about NYC and LA is that they are kind of setup like high school. You see comics at different levels every night all working towards getting funnier. While Boston is a great place to start, you can get up much more in NYC. I feel like I'm funnier and more comfortable on stage now thanks to the two years I've spent in New York.
Mass Laughs: In comedy, it is important to be your own voice. Still, are there any comedians that give you that extra drive to get to the next level? What do you admire about them?
Mike Lemme: I think I realize I'm nowhere near where I want to be at least once a night. There's so much insane talent here that every night can be humbling. Big Jay Oakerson and Mike Britt are two comics I am always trying to watch. But also, there are comics I get to see or talk to all the time keep me motivated. John Moses, Marty Caproni, James Goff, Neko White, Petey DeAbreau, Sean Mallory, Chris Hamilton, Menuhin Hart, and Mike Shvenderman.
They all have different things I admire, but they are incredibly comfortable being who they want to be on stage. They found their voice and refuse to change for anyone.
Mass Laughs: [Obligatory] What's the deal with hecklers?
Mike Lemme: You always want to yell at them after the show, and they are the ones who say "you were great!"
Mass Laughs: How many jobs have you had since moving to New York? How does your day job affect your comedy?
Mike Lemme: I've had at least 10 jobs in the last two years. However, most of them were freelance. I've sold tickets to comedy shows in Times Square, promoted night clubs, sold food processors, worked in corporate marketing, pitched sketches for Nickelodeon, worked as an assistant for two years at Millionaire, worked on the pilot for Meredith Vieira's new show, and currently, I'm temping as a janitor at an ad agency. It's hard to find a job that gives you enough time to do comedy. But also, NYC has taught me how to deal with rejection. When I was in college, I interned for Conan and Fallon, yet I'm still struggling to find consistent work in TV. You're going to get rejected a lot- that's part of the process of living here. Just gotta have fun while it's happening.
Mike Lemme: If you're thinking about moving to NYC- my best advice is to just make it happen. Don't wait too long. Find someone's couch you can crash on for a week and try it out. When I first moved here, I couch surfed for two months and then lived with a married couple I found on Craigslist for a year and a half. It's all about finding ways to support your comedy.