"If you dare Craig Shoemaker, he may just end up naked in a mall fountain."

Every now and then a comedian comes around and tells you something that you won’t believe. In Craig Shoemaker’s case, it wasn’t the time he swam naked in a mall fountain on a dare; rather it was creating ‘Laughter Heals,’ a program for people battling and suffering from cancer and other life threatening diseases.

Q – You’ve been doing stand-up for a while now, like 20 years. Do you ever get tired of the traveling and promoting part of it?

A - Depends when you ask me but on this particular day, I’d say yes I am tired of traveling. I’d much rather enjoy moments like yesterday when I got to witness my five year old play baseball and receive the game ball.

Q – How do you keep yourself busy and out of trouble on the road?

A - I’m far past the days of walking the malls and hitting on waitresses after the show. I stay focused on the numerous entrepreneurial efforts as well as writing to satisfy the many creative outlets.

Q – Are there any crazy or embarrassing road stories you’d like to share?

A - Back in the 80’s when dumpy road condos were in vogue, I shared the stage and bunkhouse with Jeff Garlin, Ben Creed and John Mulrooney. We were bored in Ft. Lauderdale and spent a day challenging one another for who could perform the greatest dare in a mall. I swam naked in the fountain (and the comics stole my clothes). Mulrooney put an entire doll in his mouth and halfway down his throat. Garlin bought a magnum condom, blew it up at the cashier’s area, asked for a pen, popped the balloon and said, “My dick would shred this thing.” Ben Creed put on a woman’s evening gown complete with plunging neckline, walked out of the store and set the alarm off. Still don’t remember who won, maybe you can decide?

Q – A lot of comedians find themselves on TV or in film. You have an extensive acting background, being involved in huge films like “Pleasantville” and “Scream 2.” How did you get involved in acting?

A - Actually, I was an actor before becoming a comedian. Although sometimes the results weren’t so great. In college I got many of the lead roles because I was one of few who could sing that didn’t appear “disinterested” in having a leading lady. One time I had to sing a song that is one of the most difficult for a male to sing. “Something’s Coming” from Westside story. Made the mistake of getting drunk and my nerves led to me peeing my pants as the song began. This might have been the start of my comedy career because I had never heard laughter like that before. As the spot light operator zoomed in on the growing “spot” on my beige pants, a comedy career was born.

Q –How do you balance your time between acting and stand-up?

A - Well, considering how few acting parts there are with all of the trash reality, I don’t have to think too much about balance. There’s so little out there when I go in for an audition for a guest star role, I’m competing against guys I used to watch in their own TV series.

Q – Aside from stand-up and acting, you’ve done some producing and writing. Do you prepare differently for each medium?

A - Not really. Whatever the creative outlet, the process is the same. I clear away the blocks and let it flow. Which could manifest into a film, a live show, TV series, or just making people laugh at dinner.

Q – What’s your secret to staying funny for so long?

A - I think there are many but the most important to continue to develop a sense of self. Whatever the medium, the more I know who I am, the more truthful the product. If I’m grounded in that truth and share from it on stage, I’ll continue to get better and hopefully they’ll still come to see me.

Q – I read in your bio that you created a forum, ‘Laughter Heals,’ where you combine stand-up into an uplifting seminar and humanistic forum to help those battling and suffering from cancer and other life threatening diseases to use the gift of laughter for self -healing universal wellness. How and why did this come about?

A - Actually we don’t really use stand-up but have developed programs where there are no punch lines but merely is a guidance into another way of thinking and being. We train other “FUNcilitators” where no comedy background is required. Also, ‘Laughter Heals’ is for everyone because we all have something that prevents us from true wholeness, happiness and wellness. I was inspired by many incidents, actions, and experiences but the one that really pushed me through the gate was when I became a caregiver for one of my best friends battling brain cancer. I saw the conditions that he had to endure while trying to get through this difficult prognosis and pain. These stale and stagnant aftercare facilities offer very little inspiration to live. Since laughter has always been such a huge part in his life, I decided to commit changing some of these paradigms and start some programs that encourage us to help our minds, body, and spirit through any and all difficulties. Laughter’s the best medicine, just open up and say, “Haaaaaa!”

For more on Craig Shoemaker, visit his Facebook Fan Page at: Facebook Fan page (www.facebook.com/craigshoemakerfanpage). “Also as a result of wanting better gifts to give to people (whether sick or not) we created TheLaughterStore.com, which offers thousands of CDs, DVDs, and gag gifts to make you grin, giggle, and guffaw. There you will also find all of my stand-up and feature films,” said Shoemaker. “Also I’m rereleasing some comedy albums (“Son of a Lovemaster” and “Lovemaster’s Greatest Bits”) on iTunes right now.”

BYLINE:

Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous." Email Jason at jason@zoiksonline.com.

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