Like the Kennedy assassination or when you first heard about the concept of a Sam’s Club or Costco, it’s impossible to forget where you were when Former Third Baseman Mike Schmidt and 7th funniest human on the planet Mike Schmidt was no longer on Never Not Funny.
I was taking my late night walk. The air was crisp and I had inklings something might happen, so I was glad it was misting as to hide my tears as a somber Jimmy Pardo and Matt Belknap danced around, well, something as Mike was gone, unable to defend himself.
Later, Shells and I talked about the possible reasons why Mike was gone like Mike Schmidt was family. What did Mike do? It had to be something horrible, right? I mean, right?
Yea, we kept listening to NNF and eventually coughed up dough as they went pay and big-time. The guests were always funny and Pat Francis was substituted as Jimmy’s longtime friend, but we missed Mike.
So when I ran across a review for Mike’s new show, The 40 Year Old Boy, on Jesse Thorn’s Sound of Young America site, it was like a new Sam’s Club or Cold Stone Creamery opened up next door. I’m hungry.
I know for most of you, the above paragraphs are a big mess of ‘Whaaat?’
So let’s slow down. Mike Schmidt is a funny comedian. Why he’s not fully employed and successful in the comedy game is a mystery. Mike autopsies that mystery most weeks on his show. He has a weekly podcast-The 40 Year Old Boy-where he vents, rambles, endears, infuriates, and shares stories about his past and present. He’s a professional talker, the kind you’d find in a Mamet play or maybe just before 20 bucks goes missing. If Mike ever decided to ply his skills to sales, he’d never have to go home with the steak knives.
He recently had a well received one man play and a run-in with Quentin Tarantino. There have been a few opportunities, but as Mike would readily admit, he’s a bit of a self-saboteur. He’s like a Democrat in a sure thing election year, just how will he fuck this up? There’s good intentions and then there’s also that moment where you see yourself like a ghost outside your own body doing something you just can’t imagine yourself doing. Happens to Mike a lot.
I can relate. My girlfriend, Shells, also wanted me to write that she also can relate to Mike and his stories. It’s strange, we talk about Mike and his producer, Burlesque performer Lili Von Stupp, like they’re friends living in another city. I sound like the crazy stalker people from that Tiffany documentary, but that’s the immediacy of podcasts. It’s just Mike talking and Lili laughing. Like any friend, I can tune out or tune in. It’s funny, I’ll hear a song, some Van Halen anthem and turn to Shells and say, “Yea, I bet Mike likes this…” Coo-coo.
But why Mike and not-so-much Jimmy Pardo who’s also very engaging, extremely funny and relatable. Well, Mike shares more. He says there’s stuff he can’t talk about sometimes and that frightens me. Because Mike talks about every awful (and good) aspect of his life. Boy, thank god his wife doesn’t listen.
Also, he’s a story you don’t hear much in the mainstream media. The scrappy qualified underdog who hasn’t made it (Yet, Mike, Yet). There’s more of these guys than there are full-on successes. Success takes not only talent but luck and hard work. And more luck. And the successes get the microphone.
Years ago, I had dreams of broadcasting success. Stupid broadcasting degree and years of working in radio. Yea, I now work in TV, but it’s like saying I’m Frank Lloyd Wright ’cause I drew a picture of a house in first grade. I work in my own graveyardville. Once I had a child, I focused less on my dreams and more on just being happy and doing what I want. I write these reviews every day and that gives my misguided brain something to do. I finally understand the impetus to create and creating as it’s own reward.
That sounds like quitter-talk, but hey, better than giving up. Hey, back to the review…
If you’ve never heard the podcast, first, listen to it. It’s great and funny and you will enjoy it. Fact. And second, ease in to the listening process. Mike likes to talk until he finds gold. Does he know some of what he’s going to say, of course, but the comedy gold is often found after much mining. How do you know when there’s gold? Well, you laugh stupid, but my favorite part is when Mike goes “Ba-HAA!” Love it. It takes a few episodes to get Mike’s rhythms and to follow his logic. It also takes a few episodes to get through Lili’s fake laughing and realize her sizable contributions to the show as producer and sounding board. So, don’t bail after the first episode. Remember, how you felt about Mad Men’s first episode, didn’t like it, but now it’s your favorite show. That’s right I compared 40 Year Old Boy to Mad Men, mother fuckers. (sorry, slipped into Mike-speak.)
The real reason to invest in the show, Mike has stories to tell. Besides a sketchy past, strange stuff happens to him almost every week. And Mike is a master of telling a story well. Part of me kind of hope he’s lying about some of the stories or over-exaggerating the details. Because Mike’s a bit like a soap opera character–A lot of shit happens to him and because of him. If all that shit happened to me, I’d never leave the house. But Mike is made of tougher stuff.
Bottom line–He’s funny. So,
(Okay, I know this review kind of rambled and the writing sucked. It happens.)
And Dear Mike, if I’m dumb enough to tweet this link to you (and I am) and you read this, I’m sorry. Anything that is perceived as a slam or negative totally IS NOT. I’m a big fan and want the world to know the genius that is Mike Schmidt.
The anti-depressants ran out and my mind is jumbly, i’m gonna go ahead and blame that. Done.
I am to you as you are to Rock Sugar.
God, I’m kind of a dick. And arrogant much?
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