As I laughed at another one of Jerry Mabbott‘s brilliant posts, I truly admire the talented man for bringing laughter into our cynical world. Today, I am fortunate enough to have Jerry agreeing to an interview with MiddleMe. Before I burst into another round of teary laughter, I better put on my serious face and erhmm, start questioning.
Hi Jerry, so great to have you here today! Share with us who is Jerry Mabbott.
Hi, Kally. Thank you for having me! I think first and foremost I have a very deep love for God. I always have. I’ve been married to a wonderful woman named Heather for 18 years. She’s a comedian as well. Go figure. I have three wonderful children and seven precious grandchildren. I’ve always been funny, so I think those people in my life help define me. Plus I love Popeyes Chicken.
You mentioned that you are a comedian, out of curiosity, how did you become one?
Great question. It was purely accidental. I had never even gone to a comedy club in my life. I was a corporate trainer for Circuit City and we had just trained 350 employees to open the first seven stores in Southern California. We had a graduation ceremony and a photographer from the LA Times was coming to take pictures and he was late.
All of the corporate fat cats were there and they began to get nervous because the participants were getting restless. They knew I was funny so they pushed me out on the stage and told me to tell some jokes. I panicked. The only thing that came to mind was an impression of Rodney Dangerfield and a popular but very strange sounding tv preacher.
They loved it. The photographer arrived and I gladly left the stage. After the festivities, a guy who had just retired as a comedy writer for Steve Martin and some tv shows approached me and asked me if I had ever thought about doing comedy for a living. I laughed and said no.
The following Tuesday he called me and said that he had arranged a showcase at The Laugh Factory in Hollywood! I was stunned, thanked him and hung up. There was no way I was going to go. As the afternoon progressed I thought that since I didn’t know any of the people there I had nothing to lose. So I went. I did the same two impressions as before. It turns out it was a talent contest and I won!
The owner asked me to come back and perform Friday and Saturday that weekend and I was hooked.
Wow! Quite a story! Did you have the support of your family and friends? What do they say?
My friends and family were very supportive. Well, my father wasn’t exactly thrilled; no health insurance, retirement plan, etc. He got over it, but didn’t watch me perform for 12 years!
The rest of the family was thrilled, as were my friends. It was great having that support system.
How did you stay so crazily positive in this jaded world? How do you laugh at yourself?
I’ve almost always been a very positive guy and my mantra has always been, “Why Not Me”? Someone is going to get on tv, get involved with movies and perform in front of thousands instead of hundreds, so why not me?
I laugh at myself constantly, not because I think I’m so funny. I put my foot in my mouth constantly and I’m very clumsy, so there’s always something about which to laugh at me. I’m such a knucklehead that I never run out of self-depreciating bits.
How do you come up with all these jokes and ideas? Where did your inspirations come from? It’s amazing!
I always try to find the “funny” in every situation. When I do, I write it down or record it. Later on, that week I sit down and write setups for the jokes.
Example: I was waiting to go on stage at the Laugh Factory so I went into a convenience store to get some coffee. I saw the Quaker Oats box with that old guy on the front and I thought, “Wow, how long has that guy been missing”? I’ve been doing that bit for 25 years now and it still gets a big laugh. So most of my material come from my observations of life.
Taking a short break, we shall continue with part two tomorrow, please stay tuned! Meanwhile, if you want to enjoy more of his jokes and really side aching posts, please drop by his blog!
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