This week’s comedy foot soldier is Comedy Nerd’s favorite Michael Hartney or as I like to call him the hardest working man in sketch comedy (Admittedly, I mostly use that in formal settings, like when the Queen is around). Michael is a big part of the UCB sketch community and it seems like every day he is adding another project (seriously, check out his list of plugs at the bottom).
He’s simply one of the funniest guys I know and he’s got a stage presence like no else I have ever seen. I am 100% sure that he will be famous one day and I have every intention of begging him to let me ride his coattails. Don’t miss his highly anticipated one-man show, So I Like Superman, Thursday, June 17th at 6pm at UCB. Get tickets here before they all go away.
What’s the most important thing you learned since you started doing comedy?
Know yourself. It’s crucial on both the creative and business fronts of this business.
How did you know you were meant to be a comedian?
On March 25th, 1989, I watched my first episode of Saturday Night Live. Mary Tyler Moore was the host. Phil Hartman did this sketch called “Robot Repair”. After I had picked up all the pieces of mind that were blown all over my bedroom floor, I realized that I wanted to do exactly what I had just seen.
What’s been your brightest moment as a comedian?
Last summer, I played Sting at this UCB show called “The Greatest Concert Ever”. I got to be on stage and interact with amazing, amazing talents like Matt Besser, Horatio Sanz, and James Adomian. The fact that my bit went well was just icing on the cake.
What’s been your darkest moment as a comedian?
My first sketch group, Skeeger, did a set at Variety Underground that had zero laughs. Zero. It was the exact same set that we did at Ash Wednesday the night before, at the very same venue, which had killed. So it was a good lesson for us about rolling with punches. Wait; not zero laughs. There was one laugh. My impression of Tom Hanks murdering and burying Jon-Benet Ramsey went well. That isn’t a bit, by the way. It totally happened.
What is your favorite thing going on in comedy right now?
It’s pretty exciting that hilarious people that I know and love are finding success. Not only is it great to see, but it also makes me feel like I myself might not have to waitress for the rest of my life.
What is the scariest thing going on in comedy right now?
What passes for a comedic film these days. I haven’t seen a movie that’s truly funny from start to finish since I Love You, Man. And that came out last spring.
Who do you think is today’s most underappreciated comedian/comedy actor?
There’s a million underrated comedy geniuses, but the fact that Jason Mantzoukas isn’t a household name is especially unjust.
What’s the best advice you ever received as a comedian?
Build a life for yourself outside of comedy. Friendships, romances. A support system. A ton of success won’t matter much if there’s nobody to share it with.
What’s the worst advice you ever received as a comedian?
Move to LA.
What is your craziest show experience?
Skeeger did a show at a bar across from the Manhattan chapter of the Hell’s Angels. Our bartender, who looked like Iggy Pop’s thinner, creepier biker brother mistook a line from our sketch as an insult toward him. He started loudly threatening to kill me until I broke, explaining to him that we were just doing a sketch and that we weren’t addressing him. He promptly apologized and resumed bartending.
What is the biggest source of your comedy?
I do a lot of characters, so I draw from the behavior of the people around me. Family, co-workers, crazy people on the subway. It’s why I’m not huge on listening to my iPod. I miss too much good stuff.
How would you describe your comedy?
It’s mostly dancing.
Shoot me if I ever… become bulletproof.
I think most comedians are… straight.
The one thing I have never seen a comedian do, but would love to is… fly under his own power.
My favorite comedy bit that I was not involved in is… seasons 1 through 35 of SNL, seasons 1 through 20 of The Simpsons, seasons 1 through 9 of Seinfeld, seasons 1 through 1 of The Comeback, seasons…
My favorite comedy bit that I was involved in is… a sketch show my group Secret Hospital did called The Dinner Table. It was a hilarious sketch show, but it also had heart, and it all took place in the same world, which slowly was revealed as you watched. It just felt like a complete piece of work. And it felt more like theatre than sketch usually does, which I’m a fan of.
People often say they are attracted to a sense of humor. I think that is… true when seeking a mate, and untrue when merely seeking a place to bury your dong.
I would like to plug… my one-man show, So I Like Superman, Thursday, June 17th at 6pm at UCB. You will believe a nerd can believe a man can fly. Chris Kelly directs.
…my improv show The Gator, Tuesdays in June at 11pm at UCB
...my sketch team High Treason’s monthly show at Maude Night, Monday, June 21st at 8pm at UCB
…my monthly gay variety show, The Same Sex-Tacular, which I co-host with the incomparable John Flynn. We both play Tim Gunn and do a real design challenge and runway show during the show. It’s kind of a big deal. The next one will be sometime in July at UCB.
…Caitlin Tegart’s sketch play, Waiting For Obama, Saturday, July 3rd at 7:30pm at UCB. I play George Washington!
…these awesome web shorts I did for Lipton Brisk with Chuck Liddell: