Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Q&A With Mike "Viper" Bailey!

Born in New York state (Goshen, to be exact) and raised in Dillon, Montana ("one of those places where you even know the bums’ names. Andy was the main bum"), Mike "Viper" Bailey joined ComedySportz in 2003 and has proven to be one of our star performers. He's September's Player of the Month. Recently we picked his brain for our blog. Enjoy!

When was your first inkling that you were funny?

My dad’s always been a joker; he’s always been kind of a funny guy. He teaches Leisure and Hospitality at a college and has done corporate parties, so games and goofing around has always been a part of my life. I started acting when I was in 8th grade. I did it all throughout high school.

How did you start with ComedySportz?

I went to BYU studying Mathematics. I realized after a while that I was getting to be a really huge nerd. Friday nights I was sitting at home studying abstract algebra, realizing that this was my life.

I actually started college as a Theatre major but stopped that after one semester. I was becoming a huge dork. I was okay with that to an extent, but I wanted to do comedy again. I looked to find what comedy groups there were in town. I contacted ComedySportz, found out there was a workshop starting the next week; I had never even been to a show.

What were the workshops like?

It was really fun. I was okay with not becoming a player. I got to the point where I assumed I was never going to be a player. I was really surprised when (the owners) invited me to play because I enjoyed doing the workshops. Once I started doing the workshops I started going to every show. Not long after that I worked the door every single show, and then I started doing Mr. Voice every now and then. I just loved being there.

What is the difference between being funny and doing improv?

I think it’s pretty hard to teach people to be funny. It’s something so innate. Some people have it, some people don’t. I think it can be nourished, but there’s no set formula. In improv there are formulas. There are skills and things like that. And no amount of funny can compensate for lack of those skills.

It’s like Euclid. Euclid was the father of geometry, and King Ptolemy was trying to learn geometry and complaining that it was so complicated. He asked Euclid if there was an easier way, and Euclid responded that there’s no king’s road to geometry. I don’t think there’s a king’s road to improv, or a comedian’s road. You have to learn those skills. Just being funny isn’t going to make up for it. So much of improv is teamwork, and being able to involve yourself with this team, because you’re nothing without the team.

Have you ever been scared on stage?

My first show. I was terrified. I remember our first game was “What Are You Doing?” and I remember thinking, wait a minute. You don’t need to be nervous. You know how to do this. The only time I can remember being nervous again after that was right before I performed at the ComedySportz National Tournament. It was one shot; people were going to be judging me.
I’m not afraid of failing in front of people because it’s going to happen. I’m not scared of it, I just don’t enjoy it. I’ve failed too many times to get nervous about failing.

What’s your favorite thing about ComedySportz?

One of my favorite things is definitely the companionship. I think some of my best friends are people from ComedySportz. There’s a lot of connection and history there. We’ve had to interact with one another in a certain way that we can predict what’s going to happen. Regardless of whether the audience enjoys the show you can enjoy the companionship and enjoy the things you are creating on stage. I love that.

What do you get out of doing improv comedy?

I love making people laugh. I just really enjoy seeing people happy and laughing. There’s a thrill to it. I love ComedySportz, but I also love the Yellow #2 show, where I have the ability to create these stories. I’ve always wanted to be an author, make movies, things like that—I’m just not willing to take the time to do so. The Yellow #2 show is an opportunity for me to do those stories without all the time and effort it would take to write a novel.

Who are your biggest comedic influences?

I like smart comedy. I like comedy that makes you think. I don’t know if I have influences necessarily… I love political comedy. I love John Stewart, Dennis Miller. I would like to be Garrison Keillor: his ability to tell a story and make you care about it but at the same time make you laugh. I feel that the jokes aren’t all that funny, but it’s because you’re so emotionally invested in that it become so much funnier. It’s the same way a funny story about a friend is far funnier that a story about someone you’ve never met. I think he’s brilliant.

What would be your two cents for people who want to do ComedySportz?

Practice. A ton.


Talm said...

Wow that viper bailey is something else! I think he holds the first for bringing up greek geometry in a personal interview.

M. Paul Bailey said...

Well thank-you Tom. What can I say? I always try to push the envelope in any way possible. And if that means quoting Euclid, then I'll do it.