Meet Me In New York: Joe Machi

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.

Plenty of comedians are characters. But it’s a rare treat to find a comedian who’s just as much of that character offstage as he/she is on it. Such is the case with Joe Machi, won this year’s edition of New York’s Funniest Stand-Up contest, held at Caroline’s on Broadway in conjunction with the New York Comedy Festival. Machi was a New Face at the 2012 Just For Laughs festival in Montreal, and also last year made his TV debut on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Earlier this month, he also performed in the finals of the Andy Kaufman Awards and appeared regularly as the “Frightened Correspondent” on FOX News’ Red Eye. He’s one of those comedians who you have to see to believe, and even then, you might not believe it. I love it.

Believe it or not, here are some more fun facts about Joe Machi.

Name: Joe Machi
Arrival date: 7/17/2006
Arrived from: State College, Penn.
When and where did you start performing comedy? I did a few open mics in college but not seriously until I moved to New Jersey briefly in 2005. I took a class. Ran out of money then moved back home. Then decided to get serious and come back in 2006.
What was your best credit before moving here? Probably my foul shot contest trophy

Why did you pick NYC over LA or anywhere else? I think comedy is the same everywhere. If you work hard and have good jokes eventually you’ll succeed…but New York is concentrated. There’s so much going on in such a small area. You can get to know everyone and work so much! It’s also closer to home.

How long did it take to get your first paid gig in NYC after moving here? I ruined someone’s birthday party for 40 dollars in 2008.

How is this scene better/same/worse than the scene you moved from? It’s harder. More comedians move here every year and less advance to theatres and TV work. That also means it’s better. You can’t coast. You’ve got to keep writing and keep working or else you’ll be forgotten pretty quickly. The only downside is it’s harder to support yourself through comedy.

Can you describe an “only in New York City” moment from your experience here? I was cabbing it to Port Authority after a 12:30 spot on a Saturday night at the Comic Strip.  It must have 3 a.m.  We stopped by a red light near Grand Central when a couple hundred high school kids were running down the street attacking bystanders and each other.  It looked like a party had let out and these kids were on some sort of rampage.  The funny thing is I tried to look up information on it the next day and found no news articles.   I guess that’s not even news in New York City.

What tip would you give to any comedian who moves here? Don’t have a New York-centric act.  Only complain to friends.   Don’t run the light.  Try to work a variety of rooms. Keep a positive attitude because you’re lucky to be doing comedy.  Be polite to the staff at bars and clubs because you have the best job there.   Don’t hate comedy bookers…it’s a thankless job.  Go to open mics and bomb.  Be nice to street teams.   Call your family even if you don’t always get along because comedy is lonely.  NOs are temporary if you work hard and be nice.  Keep a list of positive things you’ve accomplished…it will cheer you up.  All the stuff Mike Lawerence said recently…oh…you don’t have to be nice to mean audience members but don’t blame the rest of the crowd.  Don’t badger famous comics for work.

Where do you see yourself five years from now? I hope I’m healthy and my family is doing well.  If I’m succeeding at comedy that’s the cherry on top.  I hope that being such a great comedian hasn’t made me arrogant.

Ha! You’re still OK in our book, Joe.

Machi performs in comedy clubs and alternative venues around New York City. Many Sundays — including this coming Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013 — Joe Machi and Sam Morril host a stand-up showcase at Carolines, “The Sam & Joe Show.”

Photo of Joe Machi, above, by Mindy Tucker.

And here’s a brief video profile of Machi posted earlier this year by Stand-Up NY comedy club’s lab:

Want something more topical? Here you go, from a recent episode of Red Eye on FOX News, the news frightens Joe Machi…

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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