What do they say about New York City: There are eight million stories, and sometimes it seems as though eight million of the people telling them think they're comedians? No, that's not it. It is a fact, though, that America's biggest city is also its biggest comedy mecca. Hollywood may be Hollywood, but New York City is where comedians are born funny, become funny or arrive to thrust their funny upon us. I think we should meet some of these people. This is a new recurring feature, a mini-profile of newcomers, up-and-comers and overcomers of New York's vibrant comedy scene. It's called Meet Me In New York.
Mike Vecchione has appeared on Comedy Central's Live at Gotham and has come tantalizingly close to winning New York's Funniest Stand-Up contest the past two years, this year taking home the "People's Choice" award, which (fun fact?) did not include cash or an actual award. He looks like a Staten Island police officer and isn't afraid to joke about that, or anything really, as his act sounds as though he is a chosen disciple of the Comedy Church of Dave Attell, Latter-Day Sinners. In a good way, obviously. In fact, Vecchione also has served our nation as a teacher! Now it's time for you to learn something about him.
Name: Michael Vecchione
Arrival date: December 2003
Arrived from: Philadelphia
When and where did you start performing comedy? Philadelphia, October 2000
What was your best credit before moving here? My best credit before moving was a local TV clip on the Comcast network.
Why did you pick NYC over LA or anywhere else? I picked NYC over LA because it was closer to Philly and there are more rooms, more opportunities for stage time and more of a focus on actual stand-up.
How long did it take to get your first paid gig in NYC after moving here? My first paid gig in NYC came through my friend Marina Franklin, who ran a weekend room in the Bronx (it was an Italian restaurant) and booked me and four other comics for a Saturday.
How is this scene better/same/worse than the scene you moved from? The scene is very similiar to when I moved here at the end of 2003. I worked as hard as I could writing and performing in rooms until I gradually broke into the clubs. I am thankful to work the clubs and I try to use each spot to improve in some way.
Do you already have an "only in New York City" moment yet? My "only in NYC" moment happens whenever I cannot find parking…
What tip would you give to any comedian who moves here? I would tell any comedian moving here that geography will not make you a better comic. You have to immerse yourself in the scene, get on stage as much as possible, use the stage time to improve, write as much as possible.
Where do you see yourself five years from now? In five years I hope to be writing, performing comedy, doing something meaningful on television, like maybe — on that MTV show Jersey Shore.
These days, you can see Vecchione perform regularly in clubs around New York City, including Carolines and the Comedy Cellar. He'll also be headlining the Catch a Rising Star in Providence, RI, on Dec. 18-19, 2009.
Here's a clip of Vecchione from Live at Gotham, talking about how far we've come from yesterday's problems, and offering solutions for today's problems. Roll it!
Which NYC comedian would you like to see me style and profile next for Meet Me In New York? Send your nominations to: thecomicscomic AT gmail DOT com