This month we sat down with comedian, Myke Herlihy. As always, we had a lot of laughs and we were able to learn more about what got him in to comedy and his life on the road.
Originally from Manchester, CT. Myke Herlihy is one of the most lovable jerks you’ll ever meet! After spending thirteen years behind bars (serving drinks, not time), Myke now takes his bartender's wit to the stage. Whether he's discussing his failed relationships, ranting about the trials and tribulations of being an unplanned father, or reminiscing over the insanity that was his childhood, Myke always manages to find the light at the end of the tunnel.
His ability to find the funny in any situation has made him a favorite in venues throughout the country.
Novy Talent Group: What was it like growing up for you? Were you the class clown?
Myke Herlihy: I was never the class clown. I always envied the class clown, but I was a pretty shy kid. Kinda quiet. Beware of the quiet ones, but be nice to them, they always turn out to be serial killers or comedians, and those are two types of people you don't want to end up on the bad side of.
NTG: What made you want to get into the glamorous life of comedy?
MH: I get a lot of my sense of humor from my father. I remember when I was a kid, sometimes he would rent a VCR and let us pick out a few tapes. He would always get a movie for himself, and a lot of times I would end up watching what he picked out with him. I was 7 yrs old and watching John Belushi in The Blues Brothers, and Animal House, watching my dad laugh so hard tears would come down his face. I didn't know why he was laughing, but I'd laugh to. I was 7, I had no idea what I was watching. I just knew it made my dad laugh, and I thought that was amazing. One time he rented a stand-up special featuring Gallagher. Once again, I didn't understand any of the jokes, but to see a guy smashing fruit with an over-sized mallet and making my father laugh? Sign me up!! By the way, in my father's world: Gallagher smashing fruit = Funny! / Me smashing fruit my father had bought with his hard earned money = The Belt.
NTG: How did your first show go?
MH: Terrible! My first show ever was a paid gig for a men's club in a retirement community. I had never even done an open mic! I was 19 yrs old, doing community theater, and in the Bio section of the playbill I had put "Hopes to pursue a career in stand-up comedy". Well, some guy in his 60's read my bio and offered me a show. Not knowing any better, I took it. I borrowed a shark-skin suit from the theater wardrobe dept, and showed up at the "gig". No stage. No Mic. No women. I was "Performing" on a dance floor surrounded by guys my grandfathers age and I was doing jokes about "Nintendo" and "Beepers". Ya know, EXACTLY the type of material that crowd would be into. I did 20 minutes to no laughs, the guy who booked me handed me $40 and showed me the door. I'm pretty sure they kicked him out of the community for hiring me. I probably did way worse than what I'm telling you here, but since everybody else who witnessed it is dead by now, you'll have to take my word for it.
NTG: How long have you been doing standup?
MH: That gig was in 1996. But I wouldn't consider that my starting point. It was a lesson. In 1999 I moved to Orlando and did a few open mics. I was terrible. I gave up and didn't try again until 2005. I went full-time in 2010.
NTG: Is it hard to come up with new material?
MH: It’s not hard to come up with new material. It's hard to come up with good material. Even though I'm working most weekends, I still spend the rest of the week going to open mics, trying out new material, bombing, re-working it, bombing again. There's guys in the business who have been doing the same 45 minutes for 20 yrs. Then there's other guys who have new, killer, material every time you see them. I'd love to be the latter, but it's definitely the tougher path.
NTG: A lot of your material is based on your life experiences. Are their certain aspects of your life that you choose to keep off the stage?
MH: There’s some parts of my life I don't talk about, not that I'm not open to it, but because I have to find the humor in it before I expect the audience to. There's an old saying by Mark Twain "Humor is tragedy plus time". I think some of my tragedies just need to ferment a bit longer.
NTG: You are so well connected in the Orlando comedy scene, often helping fellow comedians get started. What advice do you usually have for them starting out?
MH: Best advice I can give anyone interested in becoming a comic is... "Don't!". Partly for the humor of it, but partly because if me, a guy you just met, a NOBODY in the grand scheme of things, telling you "Don't" is enough to keep you off the stage? You weren't going to make it very far in this business. Get used to rejection. When newer guys ask me "How long until I start making money with my comedy?" I tell them "If I told you right now, you'll never make a dollar doing stand up, would you still do it?" If they say "No!" I tell them to "Quit now." If they say "Yes!" I say "You may have a shot!". That's the type of mentality you have to have. Also, if you do make this your business, be ready to hustle! We may joke that we only work an hour a night, but truthfully its a 24/7 gig. What we do onstage is the fun part! The rest of the time? You're e-mailing and calling bookers, booking travel, working on new material, keeping your social media current, and still trying to find the time to be a decent father and awesome alcoholic.
NTG: What has been your favorite show so far? Why?
MH: Love when I get booked to work with great comics who are also great friends. Ken Miller, Kevin White, Charlie Bowie, James Yon, Carmen Vallone, Dustin Diamond. The road can be a boring place if you don't have some awesome people to travel it with.
NTG: Have you ever had a crazy encounter with an audience member?
MH: Yes, but due to the pending trial I can't discuss the specifics. Needles to say, I'm confident that said audience member and myself will be found "Not guilty" of all allegations. Besides, what kind of cop leaves the keys in the ignition?
NTG: What’s you favorite way of dealing with hecklers?
MH: I rarely get hecklers, my comedy is pretty self-deprecating, so I think most would-be hecklers feel like "What can I say to this guy that he hasn't already said about himself?". On the occasions I have been heckled, I usually try to turn them into a friend. Most hecklers are just people who want attention, like noisy kids, they'd prefer good attention, but they'll take bad. I'll give them a moment or two if it helps the show. I've never had to kick anyone out of a show, but if it got so bad they were ruining the experience for the rest of the audience... I would.
NTG: Who are your comedic influences?
MH: So many. Believe it or not, I'm a huge fan of the old school guys.. George Burns, Don Rickles, Mel Brooks, Jackie Mason. Amazing joke tellers. I read everything I can find about those guys, but comedy was a very different game back then. Nowadays it's more personal. Observational. I'd say my biggest influences are Tom Rhodes and Bill Burr. Bill Burr is a name everyone knows, Tom Rhodes is a name everyone should know.
NTG: Do you get the whole, “Tell me a joke” comment every time someone finds out you are a comedian? I bet that’s fun for you.
MH: Yup. I usually just offer them tickets for a show, or tell them to check out the videos on my website. mykeherlihy.com by the way.
NTG: Can you tell me a joke? ;)
MH: [laughs] Yup. Here are a few tickets for my next show, or you can check out the videos on my website. mykeherlihy.com.
NTG: Anything exciting coming up?
MH: Woohooo. Just came back from a two week engagement at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. Next week I head out to perform at The Potowatami Casino in Milwaukee, then 6 shows at The Wisconsin State fair. I'm on the stage between the guy demoing The Slap Chop and the guy selling cheese-balls.
NTG: Is there a venue you are dying to perform at?
MH: Didn’t you just hear me? Wisconsin. State. Fair!
NTG: We booked you as a hypnotist for a New Year’s party, and you definitely didn’t disappoint! After the volunteers came up, you narrowed it down to only a few people. How do you determine if someone is a good candidate for hypnosis?
MH: [Laughs] Yes! All mysticism aside, hypnosis is just a form of relaxation. Anyone who is willing to can be hypnotized. I talk about it a bit in the show, but we all go through some form of mild hypnosis on a daily basis. I think television and movies have given people the wrong impression of what hypnotism truly is, but that's also what has added to the intrigue.
NTG: [Jokingly] Do you use hypnosis on your kids?
MH: I wish. I find bribes work much better.
NTG: I’ve seen many of your shows and, without bias, I can say you are one of the funniest comedians I’ve seen. What’s the best way for people to find out where you are performing next so they can get in on all the fun?
MH: ONE of the funniest? I remember when I was THE funniest. Then I introduced you to Ken Miller, and now I'm ONE of the funniest? Just call me "The Second Funniest"...It's less damaging to my ego! If anyone wants to catch a show, my schedule is on my website mykeherlihy.com. Also, thanks to my amazing agent I'll be portraying "Store Clerk" in an upcoming Florida Lottery commercial. We've been getting a lot of festival buzz on it. Pretty sure I'm up for an Oscar. [laughs]
NTG: I mean…Ken IS pretty funny, and Charlie has funny wine material, and Kevin has his “facking” jokes… ;)
NTG: Lastly, and I know this is one of your biggest struggles… how do you fight off all the ladies?
MH: Any attraction disappears when I tell them I drive a Purple 2002 PT Cruiser.... Jokes on them though, It's a 2003.
To book Myke Herlihy, contact Melanie Novy at firstname.lastname@example.org.