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Joe Machi is funny in his own way

During the 2014 season of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing”, Joe Machi immediately demonstrated that he was one of the best comedians, if not the one to beat. Sample sentence: “Have you ever noticed that black people [… long pause …] and whites are the same? Because if you haven’t, you’re a racist. He was both clumsy and fearless at the same time as evidenced by his phrase about the only good use of the N word being his banking password, as he would never say it out loud even if someone attacked him and asked him. the code.

Then, as he felt more comfortable competing in a nationally televised stand-up competition, something strange happened: Judge Keenan Ivory Wayans complained that he preferred the Pennsylvania native when he was nervous.

“I felt a little frustrated because people always let other things get in the way of jokes,” said Machi, who placed fourth in the competition (which begins its ninth season on July 22) and shows up on Thursday and Friday at Zanies in Rosemont and for two sets Saturday at Zanies in Old Town, by phone from a tour stop in Cleveland. “I was nervous at first; I had never done a play before, and it was new and exciting. But by the time he made that comment, I had cameras around me constantly for weeks, and it kind of dissipated. But that didn’t mean the jokes were any different.

“Sometimes people will write, ‘Oh, I don’t like his voice.’ It’s like, it’s [OK] if you don’t like my voice. For me, the thought of the joke is the important part.

Machi has a distinctive, somewhat squeaky and enthusiastic voice. (Throughout our interview, he repeatedly apologizes for being long, even though he never comes out that way.) But it’s not an act, like when Bobcat Goldthwait comically turned perched high on stage. Machi is still himself, and when he expresses his frustration with how often a lack of originality succeeds in entertainment, he’s not complaining, he’s just stating a fact.

“People would rather see a remake of a remake than a good original movie,” he said. “My boy, in New York, Broadway is almost dead. Have a [show] you have to have a famous actor in it, or it has to be a play from a Disney movie. It’s hard for people to take their chances on something a little different.

His material, above all, comes from what he thinks is funny, not what he thinks others will find funny, which he says leads to comedic blandness. That said, he throws away the material that doesn’t make laughs and doesn’t make jokes until he finds out how to do them right – like a recent piece he’s working on on the drinks marketed for athletes that he uses. also, simply because he is lazy.

“I drink Gatorade because I sweat while walking to my car,” he said. “For some reason, I haven’t figured out how to make people laugh about this yet. I think it’s a universal subject, sometimes you just have to find the right words.

FYI, I totally laughed at that. And to Machi, noting how misleading Hollywood movies are about humanity’s odds against alien invaders (“They would mop the floor with us,” he said) and his sweet, self-deriving comments such as : “I guess there’s no pickup line that’s bad if you’re really a good looking guy. I haven’t cracked this code. As with many of the best comedians, things look funnier when they come out of Machi’s mouth. Oh, and about his mouth:

“The first time I was on [“Red Eye” on Fox News, a show that has no connection with this paper and on which Machi appears as “Frightened Correspondent”], one person wrote, “I love the show; I just wanted to say that your new guest Joe Machi has a weird mouth, ”he said. “It was like, ‘The show is great. I like it. But I also want to make this guy embarrassed. I never respond to people who have nothing positive to say.

Believe it or not, he still reads all the tweets and Facebook posts about him. Not to learn what people like, but because it’s a motivator, with positive feedback able to pick it up on a tough day, like when someone recently commented that the one of Machi’s tracks reminded them of George Carlin.

“I was like ‘Wow!’” Said Machi. “He’s a guy who is almost universally acclaimed. I don’t feel like I’m close to his level of mastery of stand-up. At least not yet. It feels good to feel every now and then that people really like you some of the things that you do. For every person who writes a good or bad review, there are probably many more people who love it who just haven’t felt the need to get their hands on the keyboard and [write] Something.”

Of course, Machi knows comedy is tough business. He writes constantly, realizing that internet exposure means stand-ups can’t do the same set over and over again. He often tells people that this is a career you have to love because you don’t get great shows until you have a lot of success under your belt, “and usually the shows you get are terrible till. ‘people want to come see you. “

He remembers the first open-ended mics he did in college at his native Penn State University, noting the tough times he has when shows go wrong.

“The more you fail, the more you fail,” he said with a laugh. “So I just had to [shrug] it turns off after [that], but I remember it really hurt to hurt like that.

In fact, he said he felt uncomfortable about the idea of ​​a TV comedy contest because it’s so subjective in nature. There’s no right way to stand-up, Machi said. “It’s like telling someone how to paint a picture,” he said.

“I don’t know why stand-up is the one art where everyone thinks they’re an expert to some extent. Corn [“Last Comic Standing”] Of course, it helped me a lot because at least a lot of people saw me telling jokes.

Joe Machi, 8 p.m. Thu, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Fri at Rosemont; 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. Sat in Chicago. $ 25 plus minimum food / drink

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