Comedian Finesse Mitchell comes back to ToledoWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Finesse Mitchell is happy to be back in Toledo, though he isn’t used to seeing the area quite this way.
“They’re always big crowds. They’re always diverse,” Mitchell said in an interview with Toledo Free Press. “And they always come out in the snow. It’s the first time I’ve been here there’s not snow on the ground. I’m very shocked.”
The veteran comic makes his return to the Glass City for four nights starting Jan. 17 at Fat Fish Blue in Perrysburg. And while he may not be used to the somewhat mild winter Toledo is experiencing, he’s more than comfortable performing on its stage.
“I think for me the coming to the stage part is where I get the most nervous,” he said. “‘You’ve seen him from this show or that show,’ so that’s when I get it. Then, when I get onstage, everything falls into place. As soon as I get my first laugh.
“I think new people get overconfident walking to the stage, and then when they get onstage and look out, that’s when they get nervous. So it’s probably for the best for me.”
Mitchell began his comedic career back in college while attending the University of Miami in Florida. As his experience and poise grew, he said, so too did his ability to think on his feet.
“For me, the timing is 1,000 times stronger. Quick wit is 1,000 times faster,” he said. “Sometimes, I’ll be doing a half-hour onstage and not be doing any rehearsed material, then after about 25 minutes I’ll realize, ‘Oh, ****, I only have about 30 more minutes, I better start doing some jokes.
“And I think that’s the biggest difference — the confidence that you have,” Mitchell said. “Just ad-libbing, and it’s, like, comedy gold, and you’ll never be able to repeat it again in your life because you weren’t recording. And you won’t remember it.”
While many of his fellow comedians may look at their audience as an adversary — or perhaps an opponent to be beaten — Mitchell said that he prefers to work with his crowds to have a great time together.
“I see them as somebody who we’ve all shown up to a party together. And I’m the first person speaking, but then when it’s over, nobody else speaks, so I feel like I’ve been tricked. Like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m the party!’
“Sometimes when I come offstage I’m like, ‘Who’s next? Who’s gonna entertain me? Somebody go up there and sing or something, for all the work I did.’”
Of course, Mitchell’s notoriety doesn’t only come from his work in clubs. He also has a wide variety of experience on film and in television, though as he points out, there is clearly a wide difference between working on stage and on film.
“If somebody hires you to do a show or a movie, you wanna give them what they’re paying you for. And then when it comes to stand-up, that’s moreso your show. That’s more about the reputation that you’re leaving behind and the impression that you’re leaving behind, and your name. It’s like, I wanna make more fans.”
Many of Mitchell’s fans come from his time as a regular on NBC late-night institution “Saturday Night Live,” where he performed from 2003 until 2006.
“It’s pressure, because not only do you have to perform, you have to come up with something to perform,” Mitchell said of his time on “SNL.” “You have to actually help develop that script, so that was always a lot of pressure. And, like, now that I’m on this Disney show, I enjoy showing up to work and reading the script, and the pressure’s on the writers to write something funny.”
The Disney show is the hit series “A.N.T. Farm,” now in its third season, in which Mitchell has a recurring role.
“I love it, man. I’m sexy to every single mom out there,” Mitchell joked. “It’s fun to be on a hit show where the demographic is so large, only because, from movie executives to television executives to middle-class America, from bridge to port, everybody has kids. And everybody has to put their kids in front of a television to entertain ’em. And every now and then, adults will sit down and say, ‘What are you watching?’ And then when they get hooked, they end up watching it, too.
“It’s a brand-new fanbase, I love it, and it’s our third season, and it’s going up.”
As a result of the constant exposure on Disney — which reruns episodes of its sitcom productions ad nauseam —Mitchell said he gets recognized more than he ever has before.
“Everybody my age has kids, so all my friends are like, ‘Dude, I watch you all the time now, because my kids are watching you.’”
Mitchell will also tour this year as part of the Shaquille O’Neal All-Star Comedy Jam, including a stop in Houston during the NBA All-Star weekend. And as far as the future, Mitchell said he has designs on an expanded career in film and television.
“Everything happens when you’re hot. ‘SNL,’ I was hot. Couple of movies after that, made some money, I was hot. And then it goes away. And then I wrote a book, and then I was hot again. On all the talk shows, the ‘Today’ show, and ‘Tyra,’ and then it went away again. And then I came out to LA, and then I booked the Disney show, and the next thing you know, I’m hot again.”