Paul Mecurio likes to keep his plate full.
At present, the mergers and acquisitions lawyer turned comedian writes for the Daily Show With Jon Stewart -- a gig he's had for more than a decade that's earned him an Emmy and a Peabody Award. He produces his own podcast, The Paul Mecurio Show, performs his own stand-up, and has at least three potential television shows in development.
We caught up with Mecurio in between his many jobs to talk about Paul McCartney, Wall Street, and his advice for future comedians.
See also: 10 Comedians You Should Know
Let's start with what you're working on because it seems, at any given moment, that you have your hands in multiple projects. It's from my days on Wall Street when I used to juggle a lot of different projects at the same time. I've got my podcast, which has really been cool and is going great. I've had some really cool guests like Jay Leno, Stephen Colbert, Bob Costas, and Paul McCartney, and that was really surreal and I never expected that to happen.
How did that happen? Well I ran into him when he was on The Colbert Report, and Stephen's a good friend of mine. He was in the hallway and we started talking and we're just talking about life and whatever and it's surreal because on the outside I'm like "Oh, cool." But on the inside I'm like "Oh my god! It's Paul McCartney!" Like completely out of my mind.
.... So I decided to ask him to do my podcast and he said yeah and then I was completely flummoxed that he said yeah and I turned into the guy that says all the wrong things trying to get the girl.
And he was like "How would we do it?" and I was like "I'll come to London!" I just blurted it out. And he was like "Well, we're in New York."
And then he's like, "Is it easy to do?"
"Yeah it's really easy. You could do it on the phone naked from your toilet!" What the hell am I saying?
... So we exchange numbers and a while later my phone rings. I don't recognize the number and I let it go to voicemail and I have a message from Paul McCartney saying, "I'm ready to do the podcast now." And he did it. I called him back and he did it and it was surreal, it was really great. We talked about his creative process and his days with The Beatles. My podcast is talking to people about what they do, how they do it. So when I talked to Bob Costas, it was about broadcasting. When I talked to Stephen it was about the show and how he came to get the show, which I knew but I wanted the fans to know.
So when I talked to Paul -- I don't know how people write music and I don't have that ability, so we talked about his process and how he wrote things with The Beatles. It's really fascinating. It's on iTunes , everyone can hear them on the The Paul Mecurio Show. I named it. Very creative name.
Be honest, do you still have that message from Paul McCartney saved on your phone? I do and I have that message saved in like five places. It's really great. I'm going to take it to my grave.
Just so long as you never drunk dial him. It's been close a couple times...
... So I have that and then we just shot two TV episodes of my podcast one with Gilbert Godfrey and the other with Bobcat Goldthwait... I'm trying to do these longform interviews that have comedy built in and around it.
Are we talking about Mob Rule? No that's not Mob Rule. This is just a talk show based on my podcast. It's called The Paul Mecurio Show. Mob Rule is a show where I sort of interact with the audience and it's really about the audience because I like to improv with my act a lot.
... We have opinion shows from all diff kinds of people in the world and no audience opinion shows where you hear what the audience thinks. So I built a show where you throw out topics and let the audience engage in conversation and debate about it and then some of those audience members you take and make them part of the show in the second and third act. It's a show built around and about the audience and I'm the host of it. That's a different show.
Any advice for aspiring comics who are looking to change careers like you did? Don't do it! There's enough of us! We don't need you anymore! No, I'm kidding.
I would say really do it and set yourself up in a way that you don't have a lot of overhead or expense so that you can really work on your craft and your art and you don't have to work a lot of extra jobs to make ends meet. It's like anything: the more you do it, the more you focus on it, the better you get... faster.
You mentioned that you like to improv with the audience in your stand-up. ... I think there's a lot of interesting value in it. People can be really funny and engaging if they feel safe with you. So there are just amazingly interesting things that I have found out from talking to people that are far more interesting and revealing than sometimes what I have to say in my act, so why not engage them?
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Would you say then that no two shows are exactly the same? Yes, it's funny you should say that. People are coming back the same weekend to see the show again because it's so different from show to show. And in fact sometimes on the same night, a two show night, they'll stay after the first show for a second show, which is pretty surreal to kind of see someone still in the audience.
Paul Mecurio is performing at Stand Up Live at 8 p.m. Thursday, September 4; 7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday, September 5; 7 and 10 p.m. Saturday, September 6; and 7 p.m. Sunday, September 7. Tickets are $17. For more information, visit standuplive.com or call 480-719-6100.