And, after reading this interview, you will too.
Just got off the phone with Mitch, who’s all fired up for tonight’s premiere of his Comedy Central special, “Mitch Fatel is Magical” and, to be honest, we’re super excited, too. Mitch made us an exclusive video in anticipation of tonight’s premiere, and is generally one of the nicest people in the business. That may have been a secret. Oops. Ladies, don’t let that deter you. He’s still a tiger in the sack.
What’s not a secret is Mitch’s dedication to bettering himself as a comedian, and his life-long passion for stand-up. He deserves 60 bazillion viewers tonight. Let’s make it happen.
ROOFTOP: What is it about Mitch Fatel that’s so magical?
MITCH FATEL: That’s based on a true story. I came up with the title about a year ago, because a girl had asked me at a show if I would take her virginity. Because I was as taken aback by that as probably anyone who’s reading this, I asked her why, and she said that she thought that losing her virginity to me would be magical. So that night when we had sex I wore a wizard’s cap. And right before we did it, I pulled a rabbit out of my underwear so that she could have something to cuddle with when she was crying afterward.
ROOFTOP: We loved the Rooftop video you made for us, in the tub. What are your favorite bath time accessories?
MITCH FATEL: Probably my Spiderman doll, which I used to bring in the bath a lot as a kid. My mom would get mad at me because it always filled up with water. I was a big comic book and superhero geek, and I used to love getting in the tub with my superhero dolls and make them fight. Sadly, this just ended two years ago.
ROOFTOP: You’ve lived every college kid’s dream, which is to intern for Howard Stern, then get famous and be a guest on his show. How’d that feel?
MITCH FATEL: It was pretty cool. The Howard Stern thing was always very fun for me. When I left his show, I didn’t go back for 20 years. The thinking there was that I didn’t want to go back as his intern, I wanted to go back as a successful stand-up comedian. And Howard really respected that. And he said that he was really proud of me. I don’t have a really supportive family as far as what I did for a living. Well, they are now, but they didn’t think I could make a living by doing stand-up, so they tried to talk me out of it. Howard was my father figure in this business, and he told me, very seriously, that he was really proud of me. And that was probably one of the best moments of my life.
Howard meant a lot to me, and was so inspirational in my life, and he appreciates the way I lived my life. He was never mad at me that I didn’t talk to the show for 15 years, because he thought it was cool that I had that drive in me that I wanted to make it on my own.
ROOFTOP: But your family is now supportive of your career choice?
MITCH FATEL: Everyone can be proud of somebody after they make it. Looking back, I don’t blame them. My parents were very blue collar. My mom was a hairdresser, my dad a bagel baker, and they think that’s how you’re supposed to live your life. And everyone thinks that. But most kids don’t start out wanting to be a doctor or lawyer or working at Walmart. They want to be a baseball player or a comedian. But I never came to realize that it wasn’t realistic.
I think when I told my parents I wanted to be a comedian, they thought, ‘Well everyone wants to be in show business, but nobody pursues it.’ They thought that I wouldn’t make it, and that I should go to school.
My feeling is that if there’s a side of you that believes you’re not going to make it, you shouldn’t go into show business. It’s something you have to know in your gut, that you’re going to make it. And I did.
ROOFTOP: But you did go to college for a little while?
MITCH FATEL: I went to the Tisch school at NYU for six months and dropped out. It was a waste of money, and a waste of time. My parents were happy that I was attending some kind of [academic] institution, but it was a waste of their money.
I had started doing stand-up when I was 15, and did until I was 17 and then stopped because I had a bad experience where I died really bad. Had a really ,really bad show, and I was scared to get back onstage. So, I stopped. After I went to NYU, and then dropped out of school, I promised myself I would never get back onstage, for fear of failing.
After dropping out, I was waiting tables and one night I was serving four hot cappuccinos and the tray fell, and the cappuccinos fell on me and burned on my back. Not too badly, but enough to hurt. And I drove home to my parents’ house and showered and I put on my pajamas and I remember sitting on the bed and just thinking, ‘What am I doing? It’s a Saturday night, I’m sitting at home in my parents’ house, I have a burned back. And I didn’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t given up comedy at 17, but I probably wouldn’t be here in this apartment with my parents right now, wondering where my life would have gone if I hadn’t given up comedy.’
And the next day I went to my first open mic since I’d quit. And I knew that my life was about to begin again. I remember going to this local open mic night, hitting the stage, and feeling like I was born again in a weird sort of way.
I look at those years [that I didn't do stand-up] as the worst years of my life. I kept trying to distracting myself from doing what I was meant to do.
ROOFTOP: One of the primary goals of Rooftop Comedy is to give up-and-coming comedians, who do mostly local shows, exposure to a much wider audience by putting their clips online. What advice would you give to these comedians who are just starting to break out of their home clubs and get more national exposure?
MITCH FATEL: One piece of advice that I always give is this: the number one question that young comedians ask me is, “How did you do this? Get a manager, get an agent, get on TV?” But everybody’s asking the wrong question. I only asked myself, “Did I write a new joke today?”
Just write jokes. Sit and write jokes and then go perform them. I don’t care where, or for who. Just keep doing it. Nike happened upon a phrase that is really the best phrase in the history of the world: Just do it. I just tried to become a better stand up. And everything else falls in place around it. If you just do the work, then the right people will find you. Just be funny, and everything else will come from that.
Comedian Jeff Ross saw me working in some shitty club in New Jersey. He happened to be there performing, and sure enough, he saw me, said I should be working clubs in New York, and he set up an audition for me. Of course to this day, he’s the one I owe for everything. I went in, I nailed it, and I started working comedy clubs in New York. But it all ballooned from doing the work. If you’re meant to be in this business, it will happen from you doing the work.
ROOFTOP: Finally, give us three bits of Mitch Fatel trivia that have nothing to do with comedy.
MITCH FATEL: I get very irritable if I can’t spend an hour a day on an elliptical machine. Workouts are an endorphin rush. They bring out peace of mind to my life. I don’t do any drugs or drink and working out is how I get high.
My favorite show on TV is Intervention because I love the drama. I’m fascinated by that show. I don’t watch comedy on TV, just dramas. I just love being touched by stuff. I like to cry when I’m watching something. I like seeing people who are able to get their shit together. I like to see people who don’t give up.
Third fact? I love penguins. I have a penguin tattoo on my wrist, and a lot of people wonder what it is. Now only Rooftop Comedy fans will know what it is, because it’s actually just a symbol, a symbol of a penguin. Penguins are the most incredible animal in the world because they’re funny, cute, loyal, and they love sex. Just like me! I think they’re amazing because they’re loyal to each other and because I found out that they’re only monogamous for one year. And I thought, well, I can do that.
Posted: September 18th, 2009 under Interview.