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Interview: Mitch Fatel

Fatel hates the Yankees, loves stand-up
By SARA FAITH ALTERMAN  |  March 19, 2009

VIDEO: Mitch Fatel's matching bra and panties joke.

Given that he was once an intern for Howard Stern, it's not too surprising that comedian Mitch Fatel is all about clits and tits, and assorted lady bits – not the stuff that feminists would gleefully shave their legs over. Off stage, though, Fatel is bright, introspective, and, like a science geek stowed away in the girls' locker room, has a total nerdy hard-on for his surroundings. And the world is beginning to get a chub for Fatel.

From a waiter to winner of the 2006 Aspen Comedy Festival, Fatel was skyrocketed to fame. For the last three years he has solidified his comedy foothold by becoming a fixture on the late-night talk circuit, even working as a correspondent on The Tonight Show. He will be taping his first one-hour Comedy Central special in May (he did a half-hour special in 2006), and he's embarked on a nationwide tour that lands him in Boston this weekend. And he loves muffins. Maybe too much.

How have things changed for you - both professionally and personally - since winning at Aspen?
The most important thing is that I have fans now. As a comedian, you work your whole life to get to that point. The weirdest thing is that I'll do shows and people tell me they've traveled four hours to come see me. Which is weird, because I won't travel four hours to do anything. The most important thing I've learned is that, when people like you, they'll do things I wouldn't have ever imagined. One guy requested that I sign his shin, so that he can tattoo over it. Get my signature tattooed on his shin. And apparently it'll be right next to a tattoo of a vagina that's on his shin, too. So I'll be in good company. I suppose it's better than being next to a disgusting penis. I'll take that any day. So, how has my life changed? That's it in a nutshell.

Have all of the fans and shin tattoos and proximity to vagina-imagery influenced your comedic perspective?
It's interesting you say that, because I've noticed my act, my state of mind, my sense of character, have progressed more in one year than it did in the previous 15 years, the amount of time I did comedy. Liken that to the fact that I used to only work a few times a month. It's similar to any skill; when you start doing it a lot, you progress a lot faster. People write to me all the time and want to know how to be a stand-up comedian. It sounds like it's a typical line, but do it as much as possible. And I've even proved that myself. I'm a much better comedian since I got started, and am much more comfortable about who I am. And you do gain an amazing perspective [over time]. I hate to boil it down to a Nike phrase, but it really is "Just do it."

There's an attitude that some wannabe comedians seem to have; that it's easy to do stand-up because it just involves hopping up on stage and firing off dirty jokes. What would you say to those fledgling comics?
I would tell them to try comedy and come to me in five years when they're still waiting tables, and tell me how easy they think it is. It's the most difficult thing in the world. Even when I started I thought it would be easy. I saw a guy on Letterman and thought, "I can do that." And I did get on Letterman, but it was 10 years later. I think a good comedian makes it look easy.

I was at my sister's house the other day playing with her kid, playing with a football. And every time I would run with the ball, I got more and more tired. When you watch football on TV, you never take into account how hard it is to run across a football field. Those athletes are running constantly, and, when you try it yourself, you realize what a true athlete is. The greatest compliment to me is when people say that stand-up looks easy, because then, I'm doing it right.

But I will say that, when you see a bad comedian, you know immediately how hard it is. It's like when you see someone play basketball and they can't make a shot at all. That's one of the ironies of life. It's always easy to watch, but it's never even close [as] easy to do. I think that's why movie critics are fascinating, because it's so much easier to critique a movie than it is to MAKE one. It's so difficult to do anything of quality. Acting looks easy. Why isn't everyone an actor? True; it helps that me and Brad Pitt are very good looking guys, but you get my point.

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  Topics: Comedy , Celebrity News, Entertainment, Media,  More more >
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