New York-based comic Mike Cannon is the latest funnyman to head to Atlantic City for a series of socially distanced gigs. This weekend, Cannon will take the stage 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 26 and 27, at the Atlantic City Comedy Club at the Celebrity Theater inside the Claridge Hotel. We had a chance to chat with him about comedy, cancel culture and candy corn. Here is what he had to say.
Atlantic City Weekly: So what made you initially get into stand-up comedy?
Mike Cannon: Probably the relentless need for attention and affirmation. I was an athlete growing up, and for a while that was all I knew and loved, but I recognized later that one of the main reasons I loved it was because of the audience’s reaction. I was a pretty flashy basketball player in college and didn’t always play in the most efficient of ways, but the crowd response (when I would do something flashy) was just the best. And at the time I also had a professor that thought I was funny and told me I reminded him of Jon Stewart. And that guy was enough of a father figure that I took his advice and started a career.
ACW: You have hosted various podcasts. It seems more and more comedians are using this medium. What is it about a podcast that makes it such a good fit for a comic?
MC: I love podcasting, and I think a lot of comedians do because we are all s--t talkers. We have been talking s—t since we were kids, and that has somehow evolved into a money-making scheme. But there is nothing better for me comedically than to talk with confidence about stuff that I don’t know anything about. I think that is hilarious. Obviously that has gone to extreme extents within the political news medium, but for comedians I think it’s kind of a justified path.
ACW: What are your greatest sources for material?
MC: I’m not really great at politicizing things or having a hot take that I will even stand by, so all of my stuff is personal. A lot of it is based on my son because he is new in this world, so I’m getting a lot of material out of him and my wife as well. She has been an endless source. To be with me you really have to be open to parody, but she has been cool about it so far.
ACW: Any nightmare gig stories?
MC: Well, I basically spent this entire last year shouting at crowds outdoors without a microphone. We’re going on rooftops, we’re going in backyards – it’s like homeless community theater. But there has been a market for it. I’ve performed in the freezing cold outside in a parka, and there’s people out there in gloves and hats shivering to death but enjoying the show. It’s been crazy, but also kind of cool to see how comedy can adapt and find a way.
ACW: Does the current cancel culture trend make you think twice about telling certain types of jokes?
MC: Honestly, the cancel culture stuff seems to only promote whoever it’s aimed at. So if somebody wants to write an article about how I am a piece of s—t, I’m sure a certain sect of the population will then gravitate toward me. So have at it! But really, all it’s made me do is write better. It’s made my jokes a little more bulletproof to have each perspective outlined as opposed to lazily attacking one narrative. Not that I’m welcoming constant critique over everything I say onstage, but it has helped me get better and to seek out the funny all over the place.
What’s the worst … according to Mike Cannon
We rattled off a quick list of things and asked Mike Cannon to give us his thoughts on what was the worst. Here’s his list.
ACW: What’s the worst Halloween candy?
MC: Candy corn makes me legitimately ill. I don’t know why. I must have been molested by someone who held candy corn in their other hand, because I just have a terrible reaction to it.
ACW: What’s the worst ’80s song?
MC: This is tough because I have such an affinity for so many of them. But I’d say anything by Milli Vanilli because I don’t even really know who sang on any of those songs.
ACW: What is the worst thing you have witnessed on a New York City street?
MC: Oh my God … when I first moved to the city I would be bombarded by random bum fights in Union Square. I have watched two-on-ones become three-on-zeros as they all suddenly started fighting God or whatever. And of course I’ve encountered the classic “guy-taking-a-s—t-on-a-subway-platform-while-shooting-up-heroin” thing. And there used to be this homeless woman on the 6 train who would spit on people. Eventually she got arrested for it, and they found like $35,000 dollars on her. So yeah, for a while we had a cash-rich homeless woman spitting on passers-by. Pure insanity.
ACW: What would be the worst animal to be trapped in a tent with?
MC: I have an unreasonable fear of squirrels. For whatever reason a squirrel is like so agile, and I don’t think I could beat it in a fight. They have sharp teeth and they are fast … it’s just my worst nightmare.