Maybe things worked out the right way, though. I was waiting tables, and one day I was carrying a bunch of hot cappuccinos, and they fell and splashed down my back. That day, I went home and thought, "What am I doing with my life? I have to do something. I have to get on stage." I was scared to go on stage. I had stopped doing comedy when I was 16 because I had died so badly one night and I was scared to get back up there.
And I got back on stage the day after that [cappuccino incident] happened. From that day forward, my life, as I like to say, began. So maybe if I had gone to Emerson, I would not have gotten on stage again so fast.
What's the best part about your job?
The proudest thing I can say about my career is that I've wanted to do this since I was 10. I didn't get into it because I thought it was easy. I loved stand-up. I didn't get into it because it was a cool thing to do. I don't understand all of the comics who are so milk toast, so boring, doing whatever 10 other comics have done already. Why would you do this if it's not to do something unique or different or fun?
Show business is still the most wonderful biz in the world. At the risk of sounding disgusting, I have had sex with girls who should never have even given me their phone number. People are now getting tattoos of my name on their shin, and I used to get picked last for dodge ball. The bottom line is, it's show business, and everyone wants to be in it. You're told you're special every single day you go to work. What other business is there in the world where every time you leave work, people tell you how great you are? I am so insecure, I need constant reassurance, and this business gives you that. But I'm proud to say that I didn't get into this to become famous. The fact that everything else came along the way is a reward for becoming a good stand-up comic.
It all comes down to the fact that I love doing stand-up. If you have a love of the art form, you'll be embarrassed to just get up on stage and do what's been done. Out of the ashes, there always comes one or two people who do understand that, and are doing this for the right reasons.
I worked on a TV show about 15 years ago. There was a guitar player on the show, and I said to him, "it must be pretty cool to do this every night, play guitar on a TV show, and get paid for what you like doing," and he said, "It's always just about playing the guitar." And I understood him. You just do what you do, to the best of your ability, and the other stuff will always fall into place.
MITCH FATEL | March 19 | The Comedy Connection, Providence | 401.438.8383 March 20 | The Comedy Connection, Chicopee | 413.593.5222 | March 21 | The Wilbur Theatre, Boston | 617.248.9700