Mecurio comes to Fat Fish Blue: “Daily Show” writer brings stand-up comedy act to ToledoWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For a guy who works in Hollywood, it seems like it might be a bit of a shock to the system to be playing the Toledo area right as some of the most bitterly cold days of the year begin. But for comedian Paul Mecurio — who will appear at the Funny Bone at Fat Fish Blue in Perrysburg from Thursday, December 12 through Saturday, December 14 — such cold temperatures are nothing new.
“I grew up in Rhode Island, in New England, so I’m used to the cold,” Mecurio said in a radio interview for ‘Eye on Your Weekend.’ “Very Italian family that I grew up with in Rhode Island. You know, you think Italian, you think of one of two stereotypes — you think of the plastic on the furniture, very neat house, and the picture of the Pope, Jesus and Frank Sinatra. That part is not true in my family, because my mother — still — has a furniture store, and that was always the focus of our lives. So the house was a pig sty growing up.
“This is a true story, this is how bad our house was — someone broke into the house, they took the stereo, didn’t touch another thing in the house. A cop comes over to take a police report, stands in the middle of the living room, surveys the living room, and goes, ‘Oh my God. What kind of an animal would make a mess like this?’”
The other Italian stereotype Mecurio refers to — that of Mafia connections — is, he insists, absolutely true. At least where his cousin Bobby is concerned. “He sells stuff out of the trunk of his car, like ratchets, seats, and — I’m not making this up — he sells car alarms. Car alarms he stole out of other people’s cars.”
It’s these kinds of stories that have endeared Mecurio to fans of his stand-up career. Comedy was not his first career path, though — he has a law degree from Georgetown and worked as a banking and acquisitions lawyer before striking out on a new path.
“I was doing corporate law, mergers and acquisitions in New York. And I thought, ‘How can I give my mother an instant heart attack? I know — I’ll tell her I want to be a comedian!’” Mecurio said.
“I was doing law, and I began to write jokes as a hobby, and I was sort of living this secret double life. And people say to me, ‘Did you know you wanted to be a comedian?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, no.’ And they were like, ‘Were you funny?’ And I was like, ‘Well, yeah, I was always the funniest lawyer in my law firm.’ Which is kinda like being the sexiest I.T. guy.
“I’d say these really wacky things to get laughs from the other lawyers. Things like, ‘We can’t do that, that’s unethical!’ And they would laugh and laugh and laugh.”
His “double life” began to become more taxing — he was sneaking out during dinner breaks at his law job to play open-mike nights at local clubs in NYC — until he got a job writing for Jay Leno, and then eventually, was invited to join the writing staff of the then-brand new “The Daily Show” in 1996. His work on that show has earned him both an Emmy and a Peabody award.
“It’s been fun. You get to really push the envelope. When Monica Lewinsky was rehabilitating her image after the whole Lewinsky scandal, she did this spread for Vanity Fair. And I got so incensed that she was making over her image, and we were allowing it. And she was selling handbags, I don’t know if you remember that, she had this handbag line.
“And so we said, ‘Oh, that’s not the only thing she’s doing, she’s getting product endorsements — like this one!’ And I’ll put this delicately — we had a picture of her face and put ‘stuff’ on it. A particular type of liquid, if you will. And on the bottom it said, ‘Got milk’ with a question mark.
“And we put that into the show, and we didn’t tell anybody ’till the last minute we were doing it. And the President saw it and flipped out,” Mecurio said. “They never re-aired the show after that.”
And while Mecurio’s expertise at comedy is more than enough to guarantee that fans who come out to Fat Fish Blue a great time — he also has a secret weapon.
“I like to be in the bitter cold, because I want to force people to be inside any way I can,” he said. “I trap people indoors and then they have no choice but to come to a comedy show and see me and the lovely comedy I do.”