JFL The Nasty Show: Interview with Mike Wilmot
“You better fucking love yourself unbelievably”
These are words from a funny man who is a JFL veteran and will be closing the Nasty Show this year. Mike Wilmot took some time out of his schedule to talk to the mob about comedy, loving himself and whittling spoons.
JB: What got you into comedy?
MW: I always wanted to an actor or a stand-up comic. Originally, it was from watching Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello and my dad was a big fan of comedy. When I stayed home sick from school, I would watch stand-up on Merv Griffin show and then my mother said someone made money doing this and that was it. That’s when school and my life went down the shitter. It was hurry up and get me out of here. I got to do comedy.
JB: What prompted you to go to the UK?
MW: A series of mistakes. It started in 1994 in Montreal and I did a TV thing for a British channel, and it was called Unleashed with Dom Irrera, Bobby Slayton and I we were the North American comics. That led to me getting to Edinburgh and I was addicted to how cool stand-up was in Britain at that time. I felt like I was ahead of something instead of showing up late.
JB: What’s the Comedy scene like out there compared to North America?
MW: In North America it was a flooded market. There was 10 shitty shows going on every night and everybody wanted to be Seinfeld. It was that time and it was horrible. Then you go to Britain and you see a crazy naked guy running around stage with a roman candle stuck up his ass. I thought :” Yeah I can stay here for a bit”. It was lunacy. It was people who didn’t belong being fantastically funny. Like seeing an early Eddie Izzard or seeing Greg Proops blowing people away. Really fucked funny new people who are getting into it because they have to not because there’s millions of dollars in it.
JB: What do you like about acting?
MW: I only like it if it’s exactly me and the person hiring me knows me. It’s a fun hobby. It brings you other gigs and other jobs. I did a play and I will never do that again. It was terrifying, never stopped being terrifying. I always like to stressed myself into new scenarios. I can’t climb mountains or jump out of airplanes so this is how I do it.
A friend of mine told me that you never know how funny you are until you put a gun to your head. And I think he was onto something.
JB: We’re you always a dirty comic?
MW: I always found it thrilling to say things you are not supposed to say in polite society. That’s it. It’s very juvenile and I have come to terms with that. I think it’s lazy to shock them. It’s more rewarding to get them to release. I like to conduct a big release. When you chip away at these tight arses… I’m an ass loosener. I get ’em and if they do have to walk out, I don’t feel sorry about that, I can understand. The majority of people love it and would flip out at 2 people frowning plus I’m a firm believer that humans are a bunch of twisted pigs.
JB: Do you have a writing ritual?
MW: I’m like this all the time. I’m a scribbler. I have tons of notebooks covered in scribbles and then I go out and do open mics. I just did Melbourne and that’s 2 1/2 month of shows but on my one night off, I go out and hit the open mics. It’s part of the process. I fear if I take some time off doing that kind of thing, it takes too long getting back in the swing of it. I like being comedian guy. Then I snap after 2 years on the road and take off for three weeks. I hide in the woods, pretend I’m a guy and whittle spoons.
JB: Of all the countries you’ve performed in, which one was your favorite?
MW: Ireland. My mother’s side of the family is from Ireland and let’s just say that it answered a lot of questions. I was adopted by a village called Kilkenny who also adopted Dom Irrera, Lewis Back, Kathleen Madigan and Rich Hall and we all continue to come back and perform at this little tiny festival in Kilkenny and entertain them and the surrounding villages.
JB: Are you excited about working with your new host Mike Ward.
MW: Not even. I have worked with him at the Saget Gala and he’s come out and watch play at the Comedyworks. We stick together the filth mesiters. But I don’t watch anyone before I go on. If I listened to these powerful comedians, I would just get a flop sweat and hide in the beer fridge. Do you know how tough it is to close this motherfucker? You watch this caliber of entertainer like Dom Irrera, Patrice O’Neil whop the shit out of a crowd knowing you have to go on at the end. It does a number on you. but it feels great to be working with that level of comics and I’ve formed lifelong friendships along the way so there’s something nice about being an alumnist.
JB: Who are you excited to see at the festival as a comedian?
MW: Nobody because then I’ll hate them. If I see more then ten minutes of Bill Burr I’ll be depressed for weeks. I saw him in Australia like 5-6 minutes and I was down for awhile. Fucking funny guy. I would like to see Gina Yashere who I saw when she started in England and Alonzo Bodden who had a smash set in LA on Set List.
JB: What’s your favorite thing to do when you come to Montreal?
MW: Pete’s Smoked Meat. We get a vacuum pack so I have for awhile. I always go see Ian at Comedyworks. A drunk Kojax is always good. I’ve never ever tasted Kojax sober but at 3 in the morning it’s good. When it’s festival time I just wonder around and just soak up this bizarre celebration of my disorder and my friend disorders.
JB: If you could describe your comedy as a liquor, what would it be?
MW: Knobb Creek. you don’t notice right away but it hits you right in the chest.
JB: What’s your favorite part about being a comedian?
MW: Just being a comedian. Being 52 years old and very excited about my next gig.
You can catch Mike Wilmot and all the filth meisters at The Nasty Show running from July 16th-26th at Club Soda.
It was great chatting with you Mike and see you soon! And as Mike says: “Always have a smirk on, not a smile because idiots smile, just a little smirk.”
*this interview was edited for publishing.