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 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.
It’s so nice to see someone break through the comedy boom and just be funny. That’s how I felt when I first saw Michael Che. He’s a native New Yorker who has broken through in the past year and achieved the recognition that he has earned. You can see him on IFC’s Bunk on Friday night. You’ll see him again on John Oliver’s Comedy Central stand-up showcase later this summer. And you’ll see him a lot more after that. He’s just that funny. Let’s get to know Michael Che.
Name: Michael Che
Arrival date: May 19, 1983
Arrived from: University Hospital
When and where did you start performing comedy? I started in 2009 at an open mic in the Village. I paid $5 for 5 minutes, which was a lot cheaper than the $400 I considered spending on standup classes.
What was your best credit before moving here? I’m from here, so I didn’t have any credits when I started obviously. But the first real credit I got was 2011 Comedy Central’s Comics to Watch.
Why did you pick NYC over LA or anywhere else? i picked NYC Because I’m from there, and I lived in Jersey City at the time, so the train ride was a lot closer than LA. But I’m glad I started comedy in NYC, cause it’s easier to navigate without a car.
How long did it take to get your first paid gig in NYC after moving here? When you say “paid” do you mean money? Cause I got my first paid gig about 6 months in. It was about $20. But I was getting paid in drink tickets a few months before that.
How is this scene better/same/worse than the scene you moved from? Well, I lived in Jersey City, which actually does have a comedy scene. But I didn’t start there cause NY is so close. It’s literally 20 mins away. Cities that are not NY, LA, or maybe Chicago, don’t offer as many spots. I could probably do every available spot in Jersey City for a year, and still not get up as much as I could in 3 months in NY.
Do you already have an “only in New York City” moment yet? One time me and a bunch of friends stumbled upon a strip club in the back of a pizza shop near ground zero. Doesn’t get more NY than that.
What tip would you give to any comedian who moves here? Take advantage of ALL the stage time. There’s an urban scene, there’s an alternative scene, there’s a club scene. make the rounds, watch the performers, and study the craft of making different types of people laugh. Take advantage of the diversity in the city. NY is so big, you can literally stay in 1 scene and make a career for yourself. Try not to get that comfortable. You’ll thank me when you’re on the road in some remote town that doesn’t get any of your insider references.
Where do you see yourself five years from now? In 5 years I wanna be romantically linked to a R&B singer that’s physically way out of my league. I wanna be banned from performing in at least 1 major city, and I want you to cover that story, Sean. In 5 years, I wanna be “bucket list” famous. which means I wanna be so famous that women I never met before wanna sleep with me before they die. Comedy-wise, in 5 years I see myself having a face-melting, booty-dripping, 90-min set.
You can see Michael Che this week on IFC’s Bunk, later this summer on Comedy Central’s John Oliver New York Stand-Up Show, or on Monday’s at Bar Matchless in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, where he co-hosts a weekly stand-up showcase called “Broken Comedy.” Roll the clip of Michael Che’s stand-up!
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