Appeared on The Tonight Show, Comedy Central, The Late, Late Show, etc.
Performed at comedy clubs including The Improv, The Laugh Factory, The Comedy Store, etc.
Performed at major universities such as Notre Dame and church events including the 60,000 member Willow Creek Church in Chicago
Featured on Thou Shalt Laugh 4, the latest DVD in the Thou Shalt Laugh series, hosted by John Tesh
Michael Jr.: Comedy on the Road Less Traveled
The 700 Club
Appeared on December 17, 2010
A CLEAN START
Michael Jr. realized for the first time he was funny in the sixth grade. He was a quiet kid who grew up in a home where grown-ups did most of the talking. So, unless he could make everyone laugh, he didn’t say anything.
As a teenager, Michael made a pact with his childhood friend not to curse. They both agreed cursing was not an intelligent way to communicate. “If I hear you curse, I get to hit you in the chest as hard as I want to and you’ve got to stand there and take it,” said his friend. The no-cursing pact that Michael made with his friend has followed him throughout his career. “I have no idea why we made that pact,” recalls Michael. At the time he knew nothing about God.
One night Michael was in the movie theater with some friends. The film projector broke and the 400 people in the audience became disgruntled. With the encouragement of his friends, Michael jumped up and took center stage in the theater. He told a joke and kept it clean. He recalls everyone in the theater laughed. When he saw the reaction of the audience to his joke, he said it was “the ultimate high.” In hindsight Michael admits that God was shaping him as a teenager to one day perform clean comedy.
Michael’s first big break came when comedian George Wallace took him to the legendary Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, home of Jay Leno and The Tonight Show staff. The club’s owner slipped Michael onstage and a week later Michael was performing at the “Just for Laughs” comedy festival in Montreal where he became the first comedian to ever appear live via satellite on The Tonight Show. His appearance on the The Tonight Show helped launch Michael’s career on the comedy circuit.
FUNNY FOR A REASON
Michael became a Christian later in life. In fact, he was already getting recognition within the industry when he realized something was missing. After a show one night, his manager invited him to attend church. Although he felt church was only for sick or dying people, he decided to take his manager up on the offer and go to church. Throughout the service, Michael listened intently to what the pastor had to say and he recalls “it made all kind of sense.” However, he decided to first read the Bible cover to cover before making any decision. After he completed reading the Bible in its entirety, Michael turned his life over to the Lord. He also realized that God had made him funny for a reason. “Comedy is just the seasoning that gets people thinking about Jesus,” shares Michael.
He says, “Sometimes comedians I don’t even know will come up to me after a show and ask, 'How do you keep your act clean?'" Michael says he tells them that “you can’t just be acting clean – you’ve got to be clean.”
His versatility allows him to perform at comedy clubs, major universities and even church events. “If I’m in a club, my material has to be clean enough to work in a church. If I’m in a pulpit, it has to be funny enough to work in a club,” shares Michael.
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
One night on the comedy circuit Michael remembers getting ready for a set. As he stood backstage he said it felt as if God gave him a completely different perspective on comedy. His mind set switched from just getting a laugh to giving his audience the opportunity to laugh. So, Michael took his comedic gift and the message of hope to the forgotten places of society. He decided to make a documentary entitled Comedy: The Road Less Traveled. The DVD is about taking comedy to those who need it most: homeless camps, rescue missions, an HIV facility, Skid Row in LA, as well as adult and juvenile prisons. The documentary took 18 months to complete. When he started the project, he admits that he had no idea what he was doing, but God showed him what to do and provided the resources he would need to get the job done.
Michael hopes that the documentary will “motivate people to do something more to step out of their comfort zone and make a difference in and out of their community by showing a way to give tangible love to the otherwise forgotten and cast aside.”A portion of the proceeds from the DVD will help the forgotten people of society.
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