By Jason Tanamor
“I just love being creative. Whether it’s writing an article for Playboy, answering interview questions, writing a sitcom or a Tonight Show correspondence piece, anything that involves creating something that wasn’t there a few moments ago, I embrace.”
This is what Mitch Fatel, comedian and all around good guy, says about whatever it is he’s doing. Zoiks! Online had the chance to sit down with him for a quick Q&A.
Question - At what age did you start your comedy career?
Fatel - I started doing comedy when I was 15 years old. I used to go on stage in my pajamas and say that I had to get up early for school the next day. That was the funniest thing I said, after that it was all downhill and fast. After my first show ever I asked my mom how I did and she said, ‘Let’s face it Mitch, you died.’ So, of course, with support like that, how could you not continue to pursue a career? Actually the next CD or DVD I put out is going to have audio footage of some shows I did when I was 15. We thought the tapes were lost but my friend just found them in his barn upstate where I had stored them years ago. They are truly “the lost tapes.”
Question - Describe a typical day for you.
Fatel - Wake up, cry, shower, cry a bit more, write, gym, nap, write, answer mail, send out tapes, show, happy, go home and sleep (rinse and repeat).
Question - What time of day do you write?
Fatel - I actually write two times a day. Once when I wake up for a half hour and once after my nap for a half hour as well. There’s something about writing after you wake up that really lets you be creative. It’s as if all your walls are down and your mind is just awake. I heard that Einstein never really slept, he would work until he was drowsy, then he would hold a bunch of marbles in his hand until he passed out, the marbles falling would wake him and then he would work on his theories. He said that period between sleep and lucidness was when he was at his most creative. I’m not saying I’m an Einstein here but I have found that that’s when I write my funniest stuff. (Actually I am saying I’m an Einstein, a retarded Einstein if you will)
Question - When you write, do you have a goal to reach?
Fatel - No, goals like that don’t work. You can’t really say, ‘I'm going to write a joke.’ You can say, ‘I'm going to write and whatever happens, happens.’ To be creative the worst thing you can do is try to force yourself to do something. I think being creative is accessing a childlike quality within you and just like your father yelling at you to hit a baseball. I don't think you can yell at yourself to write a joke. I just start writing and if a joke comes then I consider myself lucky. If not, I have learned to not beat myself up.
Question - How do you get your material?
Fatel - Usually my funniest stuff is elaborating on things that have happened in my recent history. I'll find myself checking out a girl’s thong at the beach and think "God bless whoever convinced women to wear those." Then later when I'm writing that thought will come into my mind and I'll just expand on it, the rest is just performing it and when you perform it the lines tend to write themselves. It's kind of magical.
Question - What’s the most important thing a comedian has to think about while writing a stand up act?
Fatel - Why he needs so much love in his life that he's given up all hope of having a regular stable, happy life to instead chase the elusive love he never received as a child. That, and if the club owner is going to feed him.
Question – What’s the best advice someone has given you?
Fatel - Man, I've gotten a ton of great advice in my life. The first was when my friend Risa told me that the reason my throat was itching was I had just eaten strawberries and was probably allergic. In 20 years I had never put those two things together. To this day I'm proud to say I have never had an itchy throat again. The second greatest piece of advice I received was from Jerry Seinfeld who once said there was no such thing as writer’s block. He said it was an invention by people who didn't understand the creative process. All writers eventually hit a period where they're not particularly funny or entertaining, you just keep writing anything till you come to the other side. Jerry said giving it a name like writer's block was absurd and gave people an excuse to stop writing.
Question - How did you know that you wanted to be a comedian?
Fatel - When I was about 8 we did a school performance for all the parents of the kids. It was supposed to be a serious presentation of events that were happening that changed history. In the middle of my performance I broke for commercial and started doing commercials for deodorant and foot spray. I remember the audience was just cracking up. After that I was the star, all the parents wanted to talk to me and all the kids liked me. I knew then I was hooked as a performer and would never do anything else.
Question – What’s your main source of inspiration?
Fatel - Vagina.
Question - What clothing item of yours would cause Queer Eye Carson Kressley to pop a vein?
Fatel - How about my entire wardrobe? I literally get nauseous wearing anything other than Jeans and T shirts. I can't explain it, but I don't feel like "me" if I'm wearing anything else.
Question - What’s the deal with muffins? Why not pancakes or waffles? If you ever actually did fuck a muffin, what flavor do you think would provide the most intense experience?
Fatel - What do you mean "actually"?
Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous."
By Jason Tanamor