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Episode 2: Comedian
Big Apple-bred comedian and writer Jim Mendrinos has been doing stand-up for over 20 years. He’s appeared on SiTV (“Latino 101″), Comedy Central, The Fox News Network, HBO and the BBC. In 2004, he published “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Comedy Writing.” When he isn’t touring sharing his gut-busting brand of comedy, he can be found bringing the funny as various New York City comedy spots, including Gotham Comedy Club, where he teaches a stand-up comedy class.
What does a regular day look like to you as a comedian?
Jim Mendrinos: Absolutely not what people would expect. The stereotype is that we sleep until sundown, get up, do a show, and hang out until sunrise. That’s just not the case. I work out early in the morning, then I go to whatever auditions I have planned. There’s time spent chasing after gigs, and time spent writing and reviewing what you’ve done before. The performance time of it is really the shortest amount of time. Eight hours of work a day for a 15 to 45 minute payoff a night.
How did you get started in stand-up comedy?
Mendrinos: I’ve wanted to do comedy ever since I was a child. I was raised on watching the ’70s variety shows here in the States, with great comedians like Foster Brooks, Bob Hope and Red Skelton. In many of the [comedy] roasts, I came across a gentleman named Freddie Prinze and he was the first comedian who talked about stuff that I could talk about. All the other comics were doing one-liners in the Bob Hope-style and he was this guy talking about growing up in a tenement and having a crazy super. I grew up in a tenement and had a crazy super… and things like baseball cards and comic books, and all the things integral in my life. That’s when I knew that I could do this.
What is the most misunderstood part of your job?
Mendrinos: Everyone says that public speaking is hard, but they say, “Oh wow, what a cush job. You don’t do that much work.” But you really do. You do gobs of work between writing, rehearsing, and finding places to perform. It’s not a job for the lazy. You really have to be willing to do a lot of work.
What do you love most about your job?
Mendrinos: The laughter. When you stand on stage and a wave of laughter comes up from the audience, it’s indescribable.