Comedian Michael Palascak, who appeared on ‘The Late Show with David Letterman’ in January, will perform at the Side Splitters Comedy Club in Knoxville May 5-7. (Photo submitted)
By J.J. KINDRED
According to his web site, Michael Palascak spent his early years in Wabash, Ind., also known as “The First Electrically Lighted City in the World.”
He then moved to Chicago, while living with his parents, to pursue a comedy career, something that has been his life-long dream.
After performing in numerous comedy clubs and other smaller venues, Palascak debuted last year on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno and also performed on “The Late Show” with David Letterman in January.
Palascak has also performed at the TBS LOL Lounge, in the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Chicago, as well as Caesar’s Palace at the Comedy Festival in Las Vegas. He won HBO’s “Lucky 21” Stand-up Contest and the Chicago region of Comedy Central’s “Open Mic Fight,” and went on to make his Comedy Central debut on the third season of “Live at Gotham.”
Palascak took sketch and improv classes at the Second City in Chicago and debuted a one-person sketch show called “Pursuing Happiness,” described as “a bunch of scenes about people that moved out of their parents’ house, got a real job, and got married, and performed by a guy who didn’t.”
Palascak conducted a telephone interview with The Knoxville Journal April 26 to reflect on his career and talk about his appearance in Knoxville next week at the Side Splitters Comedy Club.
The Knoxville Journal: What made you want to be a comedian?
Michael Palascak: I think probably a lot of things. I just liked the idea of trying to make people laugh. I thought it would be a really cool job.
TKJ: Was there anyone that influenced you?
MP: My dad was very supportive of me doing what I really had a passion to do. I told him what I wanted and he wasn’t like, ‘Oh no, that’s so stupid.’ It was like in the ’80s with Jerry Seinfeld, who did something that was very special with a lot of support.
TKJ: Would you consider Seinfeld as a role model, someone you’ve tried to emulate yourself after?
MP: I don’t know. I think with stand-up it’s more of you’re on your own with everything. You just try to do the best that you can. He’s one of the most successful comics of all time, but I wouldn’t say that I try to emulate him at all.
TKJ: How would you describe your comedy?
MP: I would describe it as very, very funny.
TKJ: More specifically, do you try to base it on life experiences, current headlines? What do you try to focus on?
MP: It kind of rotates a little bit. If I hear of a current event, I may try to use it in my routine. But I don’t rely on that too much.
TKJ: Where have been some of your favorite places to perform?
MP: "The Late Show" with David Letterman, "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno, Comedy Central.
TKJ: Have you done any TV shows or movies?
MP: Yes. I did a movie called “Welcome to Gentle Waters,” a mockumentary about a rehab center called Gentle Waters. I played a character who parents found weed in a sock drawer.
TKJ: Is that something you would like to do more of?
MP: Yeah, I would like to make some more movies in that direction. I would like to do more of those kind of projects in the comedy realm. In college I did a lot of dramatic acting, so I enjoy all of that a lot.
TKJ: How do you think you’ve grown as a comedian?
MP: I think when I started, my main goal was just to get laughs. I just wanted to have enough time to work at a comedy club and be featured at a comedy club. Now that I have that time, I just want to have material that’s really funny and also true to who I am and original. I become more of myself on stage, compared to when I first started.
TKJ: Are there some audiences tougher than others? I know a lot of comedians go through that.
MP: Yes. It’s unpredictable in my opinion. Sometimes it has something to do with the comic’s attitude. If he’s up there and afraid and worried that it’s not going to go well, then it’s hard to predict. Even if you don’t feel like you got them to laugh a lot, chances are they felt like you did well.
TKJ: What can people expect next week out of your shows?
MP: I would expect them to be really, really funny!
Michael Palascak will perform at the Side Splitters Comedy Club at 9246 Park West Blvd. May 5-7. Showtimes are at 8 p.m. May 5, and at 7:45 and 10:15 p.m. May 6-7. For tickets and more information, call 934-5233 or go to www.sidesplitterscomedy.com.