Friday, September 24, 2010

The BC Q&A: Mike Donovan

Mike Donovan plays the
China Blossom tonight and tomorrow
Mike Donovan has been doing comedy in Boston for longer than there has been a dedicated comedy club in this town. He remembers his first paid gig in 1977, a year before the Comedy Connection became Boston’s first full-time comedy club. He’s played Boston through all of the supposed comedy busts and booms, and still plays regularly in Boston and around the country. He’s at the China Blossom in North Andover tonight and tomorrow.

Some of Donovan’s best stuff revolves around sports – his routines about doodling on his baseball cards and sports sponsorship are classics. You can hear both on Donovan’s new CD, Throwing Rocks, which is surprisingly also his first CD.

I caught up with Donovan earlier this month to talk about Throwing Rocks, sports, and Boston comedy.

What made you decide to finally release a CD?

Gas money. Plus to get Rob Steen to stop asking me, “When are you going to make a CD?”

How many shows did you cull from? It sounds like you bounce around from different shows.

I think its from at least 40 different shows. My wife Hilarie knows the exact number. She co-produced it. I think its fun to jump around from club to club, and audience to audience, and even from year to year. The second half includes some of the retro bits.

You say at one point on the CD that all comedy is mean, that no one has ever laughed at someone almost falling. Is that something you’re conscious of when you’re writing a joke? Is it an idea you write to?

No – Never think to write that that way consciously. I let a funny thought come to me and then I go from there. But the cruelty, its just the way I see it. Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side. The joke is on the person being told the joke. It's always funny at someone's expense.

Mike Donovan's new CD
The CD really shows off the range of your voice – do you think you’ll work in radio again? And have you ever tried to sing seriously?

I'd love to do radio again. I sang in a choir at Symphony Hall when I was 12.

The baseball cards routine is one of my favorites of yours. Did any of your collection survive childhood?

My mom threw my cards away. Bad day. There is a baseball card store in Arizona called, “My mom threw out my baseball cards.”

Which do you enjoy more, sports or history?

History. It's something that's grown in a good way. I wouldn't have said that ten years ago.

What are your thoughts on the “Yankees Suck” crowd?

It's September 4 and the Sox are drowning, so it’s a tough time to answer that one. I never chanted it. I still think the Giants/Eagles is a rougher rivalry. Sox fans have dignity now that we won two. Red Sox had more injuries this year than any football team I ever rooted for. I called them the Boston Red Cross.

You’re also working on a history book – what do you hope to communicate to people about history?

I just want to tell the story in a clear, fun, and edutaining way.

What was your first gig in Boston? Do you remember the place?

I used to host charity talent shows at the LaBoure Center in South Boston when I was 16. I did impressions and the voices did jokes. My first paid gig in Boston I think was at the Black Rose tavern at Faniuel Hall. I did sets between the Irish bands. About four Saturdays in the summer of 1977.

You’ve seen a good portion of this city’s comedy history, is there anything that has remained consistent about the scene over the past 30 years?

Some comedians steal jokes. Some don't. Some crowds are great. Some crowds aren't. Second show Friday usually blows. Cerebral comics bomb at the bowling alley gigs. Bowling alley comics bomb at the tux and gown banquets. When the blender goes on, the joke goes down. And it's usually a lot of fun, in spite of the obstacle course.

Where do you think you fit into that history?

I'll leave that one blank.


Anonymous said...

Some time back in the 80's, I saw Mike in the front room at the Paradise. I was sitting with my sandaled feet resting on stage, so Mike decided to ask me who I though I was, doing that. I told him I was a comedy reviewer, and for the rest of the show, Mike played directly to me.

Unknown said...

I saw Mike 10/6/10 at Sahara Las Vegas and he open for Jackson Perdue( whom was not very funny) Mike was sooooo funny my husband side was hurting when we left cause he was laughing so hard, Mike needs to be the head liner. Mike come to San Diego...

Ariel said...


Ariel said...

IT SAYS YOU'RE ALL A BUNCH OF...........!!!!