Meet Me In New York: Michelle Buteau

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.

Michelle Buteau first made a splash in the comedy scene when she was included in the showcases for young stand-up comedians at the final HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colo., six years ago. “Who said it?  I said it!” Actually, Buteau said that. But the catchphrase and the memories stuck. Since then, she has performed stand-up on Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Lopez Tonight and in clubs and festivals across the country. This year, you’ve gotten to see her on your TVs on a TGIF basis, as she has become a VH1 funny fixture on both Best Week Ever and The Jenny McCarthy Show.

Friday nights are going to get even more of Miss Michelle Buteau this fall, as she’s part of the new FOX sitcom Enlisted that just today got announced as part of FOX’s upcoming primetime schedule for 2013-2014. Panties on? Panties off! It’s time to hear from Michelle Buteau.

Name: Miss Michelle Buteau
Arrival date: March 17, 2001. St Patty’s Day!
Arrived from: Miami, FL
When and where did you start performing comedy? 4 days after Sept. 11, 2001. I needed something fun & challenging in my life.
What was your best credit before moving here? Not having any kids out of wedlock.
Why did you pick NYC over LA or anywhere else? Every day is a different day in NYC. This place keeps me on my toes, I never know what the hell is going to happen. I love that.

How long did it take to get your first paid gig in NYC after moving here? 2 years.

How is this scene better/same/worse than the scene you moved from?
It’s better that there are more alternative places that are conducive to hosting comedy shows now. Whereas before, most of the shows were at clubs w/bringer or barking spots. Comedy has also turned into an episode of America’s Got Talent, where a lot of people think they can be a comedian if they have a gimmick. That’s not my fave, but it’s their journey.

Can you describe an “only in New York City” moment from your experience here? I started an impromptu dance party on the subway one year for Halloween. I was dressed as Amy Winehouse, everyone else was dressed, someone had music, it was beautiful. Like a bar mitzvah on acid.

What tip would you give to any comedian who moves here? No matter how funny you are, be nice to everyone, stay humble. Only be in competition with yourself.

Where do you see yourself five years from now? Having my own show and a couple of interracial children, composting in my backyard in Brooklyn, just ’cause.

Here is a bit of Michelle Buteau doing her thing on VH1’s Best Week Ever, with her own segment called “Panties On, Panties Off.” This is her most recent installment, in which she discussed Ryan Gosling and Ryan Lochte. Panties off!

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

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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