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A Heartfelt Funny Interview with Comic for Recovery George M.
Recovery Comedians, Comics Anonymous, Recovery Comedy, Recovery Comic, Clean and Sober Comedy
Recovery Comedian George M.

This week we’re talking to George M. who has been described as the “Thinking Man’s Albert Einstein”.  He has been on A&E, Comedy Central and HBO and has also performed at numerous comedy clubs all over the US.  He has worked with such famous comedians as Ellen DeGeneres, Jeff Foxworthy, Dave Chapelle, Paula Poundstone, Lewis Black, Brett Butler, David Brenner, Robert Klein, Norm McDonald, Larry the Cable Guy, Ron White, Kathleen Madigan, and Mitch Hedberg.


Recovery Comedy:  What were you like as a kid?

George M:  Just like I often am now -- childish.


Recovery Comedy:  What made you decide to become a stand-up comedian and how long have you been performing? 


George M:  Within the span of about a month in the summer of 1986, my wife asked for a divorce, I got laid off from my job, and my grandfather killed himself. But that's not the funny part... 


In the midst of this turmoil I went to see Sam Kinison at the old Rainbow Music Hall in Denver, and I was totally blown away. He articulated much of the frustration and anger I was feeling at the time, and that experience sort of planted a seed. I had been a big comedy fan my whole life and a regular customer at the Comedy Works in downtown Denver since its opening in 1981; after seeing Sam I was motivated to start hanging out at the Works on Monday (New Talent) nights to see what was going on. I finally got up the nerve to sign up for a spot, and went on stage for the first time right around my 29th birthday in January, 1987...


From my months of observation, I had figured out that the biggest problem with comedy newcomers was that they weren't prepared well enough. So about three weeks before my spot I free-associated into a portable cassette recorder (yes, I am that old) for about an hour and then whittled that down to five minutes of material, which I practiced about a hundred times until I got it down cold. In retrospect, it was pretty horrid stuff (a whole chunk on gerbil-jamming: "Apparently, they often use some sort of tube when they do this, and sometimes flush the tube full of nitrous oxide -- as if this rodent wasn't disoriented ENOUGH, scrambling around some guy's anal cavity, he now has the nitrous to contend with...") Inexplicably, though, I absolutely killed. It is still the greatest rush I've ever had....


I was deathly afraid that I wouldn't do well that first time out, so I didn't invite any of my friends. After that one good show, though, I was convinced I was a genius, and I asked a BUNCH of friends to come to my next gig. Which was the night after the Broncos lost the Super Bowl to the Giants. Did I mention this was in Denver? Pretty much the whole crowd was hung over, depressed and angry, and I died a slow, miserable death, Actually felt more sorry for my friends, who had to come up with something to say to me afterwards ("So, you DO still have the day job, right?").


So there it was -- the ecstasy and the agony, all played out in my first two gigs. If I had died like that the first time, I'm not sure I would have come back again, but because I'd already had that one amazing experience, I was hooked ("The first one's free..."). I chased the elusive feeling of that first show for a long time before I realized that moment was gone forever, and it was time to create new ones (sorry to get all woo-woo)...


I made my living as a stand-up for over 10 years before I got tired of the travel and settled down in my home state of Colorado... Though I've been back at a day job for a number of years, I still try to perform as much as possible. Especially dig the recovery shows, 'cause the Ebby Thatcher references just kind of lay there with the normies...


Recovery Comedy:  Were you performing stand-up comedy before you got into recovery? 

George M:  Yes. When I started doing stand-up I was active in my disease (whatever the hell THAT means). When I first started getting paid to do it, I thought I'd hit the jackpot. "Let's see, I don't have to be anywhere until about 7:30 at night, they pay me AND give me free drinks? My GOD this is PERFECT! Even I can get it together by 7:30pm..." Until I couldn't, and then I went in to treatment... Came out of rehab and went on a miserable 4-year roller-coaster ride in and out of the rooms... Finally hit a hard enough bottom in April 1993...

Recovery Comedy:  Does your comedy have a message and if so what is it? 

George M:  My message is generally "No refunds."

Recovery Comedy:  Who are your comedy idols? 


George M:  Bill Hicks, Kinison (at certain stages), Jonathan Winters, Steve Martin, Steven Wright, Carlin, Pryor, Chris Rock, many guys I've worked with over the years who are not household names.

Recovery Comedy:  Where does your inspiration for material come from? 


George M:  When I started off it was primarily from pain; today it's mostly from an observation of the absurdities of life and our equally absurd reactions to them...

Recovery Comedy:  What is your joke writing process?


George M:  Usually a situation or event strikes me as kind of silly, and I try to tell a story about it. Or sometimes a word just sounds funny to me, and I try to work that into a premise.


Recovery Comedy:  What is your kryptonite? 


George M:  Interesting you should ask that. As I am originally from the planet Krypton, my Kryptonite is actually... Kryptonite. And Mud Pie...


Recovery Comedy:  Is your family supportive of your comedy career? 


George M:  Yes. 


Recovery Comedy:  Is comedy part of your healing process? 


George M:  Before I got into recovery, I think comedy was part of the problem, as it was totally an ego-feeding proposition. I was abdicating my sense of self-worth to a roomful of strangers on a nightly basis -- if I had a good show, I was OK; if I didn't, I wasn't. Not a healthy way to live. Today I try to think of performing as a way of being of service, and to that extent, yes, it does have an element of healing.


Recovery Comedy:  What was your worst experience performing comedy?


George M:  Did a show at really awful country & western bar in Lubbock, Texas. At the time I had shoulder-length hair, and for some reason decided to wear a pink paisley shirt to do the gig. The crowd was not exactly my demographic, and it didn't help matters that I had started drinking about 3 hours before the show. So I'm on stage, sort of drunkenly chewing it in between heckles, when this cowboy yells up at me "You look like a girl!" I replied, "You know, compared to your date, you're RIGHT!" This comment precipitated a full-fledged bar brawl which culminated in my spending a night in the Lubbock drunk tank...


Recovery Comedy:  What was your best experience performing comedy? 


George M:  I think just about any Yukaholics show... It's a fundraiser for recovery houses in the LA area that was started by some friends of mine many years ago. The evening show usually gets over 1,000 sober people, and the atmosphere is just inspiring. We have a meeting of the performers right before the show, and then we start.... For me, it's about the best emotional/spiritual place I can be at that moment... I've done 6 or 7 of these events, and I hope to do more...

Recovery Comedy:  What is your favorite joke?


George M:  Guy goes to a psychiatrist, who asks him "What seems to be the problem?" Guy says, "I have trouble making friends, asshole." (This is a very slight variation on an old Henny Youngman joke.)


Recovery Comedy:  What is your comedy dream? 


George M:  My dream is to have an agency that books sober comics to do gigs in recovery settings. Hope somebody doesn't beat me to it...

To find out more information about George M. or to book him for your next Recovery Event just click here!

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