Mike Marvell has always been one of those guys with one foot firmly planted in reality and the other on a comedy stage making people laugh.
The Wisconsin native has always been somewhat of a goofball, building on that ability to make people laugh no matter where in the country he travels.
You can't help but like the guy. He's that relative or family friend everyone actually looks forward to seeing because he always has a good, relatable funny story. Marvell has turned his natural talent into a career that's served him well for more than 15 years.
He performs at a wide variety of private shows, including biker bars, senior centers, casinos, church events, grade schools, colleges, redneck bars and country clubs. Even if clubs don't hire him, people want to hang out with him, and you'll definitely want to have a beer with the guy.
We talked with Marvell about his career, his comedy and the show he brings to the Edgewater. Here's his take…
Talk a little about your background and how you got into comedy.
I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and 20 some odd years ago, I actually wrote a screenplay that no one was interested in. But it gave me a chance to write comedy and so I decided to start doing standup, and I guess the rest is history. I kept going from there.
I've been married 31 years to my wife, Alice. When we were down there last year, we went to Vegas and were remarried by an Elvis impersonator. I tricked her again, you'd think after all this time she would have smartened up.
Describe your comedy for people who may not be aware.
My comedy revolved around growing up in Wisconsin, football, hunting, fishing, my wife and my three kids, which are adults now and are of no use to me any more. But they are fun to hang out with. That's what my comedy is, my family and the weird things that happen to me. It's observational about the crazy stuff. I do a lot of hunting, fishing and football comedy, which goes over well down there.
I also work for a city municipality, and I don't travel all over the world. I don't think people like us in other countries, so I stay where I'm liked. I don't touch on politics or religion, that tends to divide an audience in half. I talk about everyday things, raising a family and watching them screw up, like Jane Goodall and the chimps, I watched them grow up, I didn't interfere.
Who were some of your early influences?
It's gonna sound silly, but I love the old comedians. My mom turned me on to the Smothers Brothers first comedy album, and George Carlin's Occupation: Foole and it had the "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television." I loved it. These days, I like Brian Regan, too, but those old comedy albums were the best. I loved being the clown and goofing around. My wife always supported me and now she travels with me and we have fun.
There were local comedians that I watched all the time but were never on TV, but wow, were they good. Uncle Lar (a.k.a. Larry Reeb), was huge in Chicago. He's a funny guy and a great writer.
What was the worst experience you had doing comedy?
I guess my worst was I had to do a show for two people, so I sat at a table and talked to them. It was like sitting in a bar with friends. All road comics have horror stories. Sometimes you show up to a place and the hotel is nasty, you refuse to stay there, so you drive the six hours back home.
Where's the strangest place you never thought you'd perform?
I did a swingers club in Chicago. That was strange. I did my set, couples broke off into different rooms and I sat at the bar.
Who makes you laugh your butt off?
Uncle Lar — and we love comedy. My wife and I love watching it. We love watching it on the Internet and TV. But unless you come for a live show, it's a different experience every time. Anything live is better.
What's your favorite thing about being a comedian?
Free beer. A lot of places I get free beer and I like that and meeting people is the best. Everywhere we go, we meet nice people. Those are the two most important things.
What's your least favorite thing about being a comedian?
I guess would be the travel, driving between gigs. A friend of mine said "you don't get paid to perform, you get paid to drive. But sometimes it's fun to drive. My wife and I stop at a lot of places — resale shops, antique shops. We find things that make it fun.
What was the best laugh you ever received?
I don't know. I got a lot of stuff that comes to me on stage, but one bit I wrote, the first time I did it on stage, it worked and that was the biggest thrill. George Carlin was the big wordsmith. Over the years, I've done the bit a lot and screwed it up. My wife laughs the most because she knows I screwed it up. She's like a vulture.
How do you handle hecklers?
Over the years I've gotten them, and I've been doing this for 20 some-odd years. Some comedians think you have to go after them. I've learned it's best to let them talk a bit and either embarrass themselves or do it to themselves. Sometimes they really like the show and they're enjoying the show. Then there's the occasional drunk and you have to deal with that. Most of the time people are friendly and they want to hear what you have to say. The hardest one is the drunk woman and I let the audience patrol that. Comedy is an apprenticeship and you learn your chops as you go.
More on Jon Schieszer...
Jon Schieszer will be opening for Marvell at the Edge Lounge.
Schieszer has been headlining clubs and colleges from Miami to Honolulu for more than ten years. He has performed at clubs and casinos across the country, and his honest and original style keeps everyone wanting more. He's a regular performer at the Comedy Store in Hollywood along with many other clubs in Los Angeles and Southern California. He’s also been featured nationally on TBS and Funny or Die.