"Paul Mecurio ends each stand-up set with grapefruit sex." – Interview

Paul Mecurio, the talented writer and hilarious stand-up comedian, got his big break when Jay Leno performed at a corporate gig while Mecurio worked on Wall Street. After the gig, Mecurio gave Leno some of his jokes and, after Leno bought some, Mecurio decided to take the plunge into stand-up. Soon after that, Wall Street followed suit by taking its own plunge. Is Mecurio to blame? Probably not. But it was a good thing the Emmy winner took entertainment seriously, because as you can tell from this interview, Mecurio, like Leno, is someone to stalk as well.

Q – You have a degree in law from Georgetown Law School and actually worked on Wall Street. How, and more importantly, why did you end up in comedy?

A - I was focused at a young age. My goal from when I was 7 was to live in squalor, perform for drunks and bitter comedians and not know where my next dollar was coming from so I hit on stand-up. I was making short films and writing comedy and sold some jokes to Leno and that got me started on the path. Then when I decided to go for it full time I left Wall Street. I actually made the move from Wall Street to stand-up because it was the easiest and quickest way to give my mother a massive heart attack. You should have seen her face, it was ashen! Hilarious. That's when I knew I could do stand-up.

Q – Jay Leno gave you your first start, with you writing for “The Tonight Show.” How did that come about?

A - I was stalking Leno - living in his bushes and I thought hell, if I'm just sitting here, might as well jot some ideas down. Over the years as I was routinely being taken away by the cops for trespassing I would ask the cops to pass on to Jay some jokes I had written. They did and bingo! The rest is history. No, actually, he performed at a private corporate function I was attending and afterwards I gave him some of my jokes and he bought some. It was pretty cool at the time.

Q – Your next big break was writing for “The Daily Show.” First the “Tonight Show” and then “The Daily Show,” was there ever a time that you did NOT get what you wanted?

A - Yes, I wanted to be a ballerina but it was just not in the cards. Damn you plies!!!!!

Q – You won an Emmy Award for your writing work on “The Daily Show.” Are you more of a writer or a comedian?

A - Comedian. Performing is what I do mostly and the writing just came about by happenstance - great gig and all and has served me well. But I am a comedian, and a butcher - just a hobby. I work wonders with a pork shoulder!

Q – Not only are you a successful writer, you’ve also been on a bunch of TV shows as a stand-up comedian. Do you think that stand-up is over saturated with all of the outlets available to be seen?

A - Not if someone is good and unique. There is definitely an over saturation of run of the mill stand-ups but if someone has defined themselves in a unique way they will stand out. In my case, I finish my act by having sex with a grapefruit. Grapefruit sex! It's good and good for you!

Q – How difficult is it to keep originality in material when it seems as if there are only so many ideas to go around?

A - Easy. You just mine what's going on in your own personal life. Then you accomplished a couple of things simultaneously. You've always got a wealth of material to tap in to and you are tapping in to what makes YOU unique. If you are true to that then you're golden. And if you sleep with the booker, director and/or producer that helps. A good reach-around never hurt in this business, not figuratively anyway.

Q – Which entertainer gave you the best advice and what was it?

A - Jon Stewart. In the beginning doing stand-up he said just perform as much as you can and don’t worry about the money. The money will come later. Well, I'm still waiting Jon! Where's the damn money! I've been calling you!

Q – With the economy in the state that it’s in, do you ever look back at your past life on Wall Street and wonder what if you stayed in that business?

A - Does every minute of every day count? No, not really, sure the money was good but that Wall Street life was, what’s the word, oh yeah, soul-crushing, that's it! I felt like I was on a treadmill and there was no real point to what I was doing other than to make a lot of money. Which is not a bad thing but I'd rather do that in a career where I feel more inspired and since my first love, "professional macramé," never worked out, stand-up comedy seemed like the next logical choice.

Visit Paul at: www.paulmecurio.com.

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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