Tragedy Plus Time: Montréal-based Comedian Mike Carrozza

Named by CultMTL as one of Montréal’s Top Ten Comedians in 2017, Mike Carrozza is a Montréal-based comic whose early years include experience as a former writer at The Beaverton, a weekly satirical news publication. His high-energy comedy style has been featured in comedy festivals such as The Fest in 2023, San Francisco Sketchfest in 2023, and Just For Laughs festival in Montréal/Off-JFL Zoofest (from 2016-2019 and from 2021-2023). He also performed his own show at the Just For Laughs festival, Figure it Out with Mike Carrozza, in 2019 and 2022.

Mike Carrozza

How would you describe your comedy style?

Silly is the best word to describe my comedy style. Stupid, too. I like leaning into absurdity and being a high-energy comic. I love breaking form and pushing for more strange and alternative elements of stand-up. My favourite stuff is always something that you’re surprised to see in stand-up. Someone like Tom Walker is a great example of this. It’s stand-up, but it’s also like solo sketch. I love that.

Who are some of your influences?

Kyle Kinane is my favourite comedian. Andy Kindler, Maria Bamford, Pete Holmes have all had influences on my work for sure. I love comedy so much, I listen to so many albums and watch so many specials – we’re fools to think art isn’t influencing us constantly. If it’s good art, you pick up what’s doing it for you and let it inform your work, and if it’s bad, you’re pushed away from the thing that you identify as the ick and that informs your work.

Who was your favourite comedian growing up?

Growing up, Mitch Hedberg. It feels nuts to consider now since he’s a one-liner guy and I’m much more of a long form comic, but yeah Mitch was my fave growing up. I loved his lesser-appreciated stuff like

“I wrote a letter to my dad. I was gonna write: “I really enjoy being here”, but I accidentally wrote ‘rarely’ instead of ‘really’. I wanted to use it, I didn’t want to cross it out, so I wrote: “I rarely drive steamboats, Dad. There’s a lot of shit you don’t know about me. Quit trying to act like I’m a steamboat operator. I know this letter took a harsh turn right away. Hello Dad.” What a fun joke.

Who is your favourite comedian now?

Kyle Kinane. I’m lucky to call him a friend today, but man when I first met him all I could hear in my head was “Don’t fuck this up, don’t fuck this up, don’t fuck this up.” He’s the nicest guy and the real deal. I got to work with him recently and it was the first time I got to see him work the kinks out of a new hour. It was amazing. I learned a lot.

Kinane’s got so many specials it’s hard to direct people to one in particular so I’m gonna say watch/listen to all of them. They’re mostly even on YouTube. Shocks and Struts is up there now. Whiskey Icarus is one the online fanbase says to start with. I just say if it’s Kinane, it’s bound to be good.

He is so insightful and so poetic. It’s just so funny the way he can turn the mundane into an introspective journey. I’ve told him several times if he just transcribed his hours and sold ’em as books, I’d probably learn how to read.

What is your pre-show ritual?

If there’s a green room with pals, I like to start getting jokey with everybody. “Hey, how you doin’, it’s riff city.” I’ll write down the jokes I want to do on a sheet, put it in my pocket and then never look at it again. I’ll drink too much water for short sets and immediately have to piss afterwards.

What is your favourite place you have performed? Why?

Wherever there’s an audience that’s eager to participate in their side of the audience-performer agreement. I’ve performed in tiny rooms and big theatres and while there are some things that a venue does that can be conducive to a good time, I feed off the audience and give it right back. So if I do a little tester joke off the top that I think is goofy and silly and they give me nothing, sorry audience, you’re getting some of my more “reliable bits” (read: hack premises).

If I had to pick a place, I’d probably say Comedy Bar in Toronto. No offence to my home club The Comedy Nest, but Comedy Bar in Toronto had a cabaret space that is smaller and packs in nicely where people are just ready for the new jazz that’s about to happen on stage. Weird shows thrive in a space like that and the people who enjoy those shows are the kind of folks who feel seen and come back again. If I had to pick a perfect show, that’s it. One where an audience is ready for weird, good, silly stuff.

What is your favourite bit you have written and why were you proud of it?

At the moment, it’s my bit about somebody needing mouth to mouth and I act out a phone call with my girlfriend asking if she’s cool with that.

Overall, my List of Gum Flavours bit is probably my best bit. I’ve been doing it for far too long. It’s on my album Cherubic. It’s on my JFL Originals taping. I love that bit. It’s perfectly stupid. It’s exactly where I want to be. It’s physical yet stationary, it’s heavy with expectation and then a curveball, it’s sweet and has some bite. I’m really proud of it and in a way, I’m totally searching for that next bit like it. I really am proud of it.

What is your favourite medium for listening or finding new comics/comedians?

Lots of ways! There used to be Put Your Hands Together, the podcast about LA comics doing basically a mic – you’d discover new names and hear famous comics working on stuff. There’s Instagram – reels or other comics I trust to recommend to others. Festival lineups and rosters on comedy record labels like Blonde Medicine, 800 Pound Gorilla, Comedy Records, etc.

Personally, I love an album. If I can’t see you live, put the album on while I’m doing dishes or just chilling. If there’s a special or a comic that is more physical, I’ll make time to watch. When Steph Tolev inevitably gets a Netflix special, I’m going to be ready to watch it for sure.

Do you have anything to promote right now?

I’ve got dates coming up!

Comedy Nest Feb 15th and 16th

I’m in Chicago Feb 18th-25th visiting.

I’ll be running my work-in-progress hour at Notre-Dame-des-Quilles on March 27th.

Closing out The Very Pretentious Show on March 31st at La Ligne Verte

Where can we follow you?

Instagram | LinkTree | Youtube

PAY IT FORWARD: Who is another local comic/comedian we should know about?

Wassim El-Mounzer, Andrina Learmonth, Harrison Weinreb, Walter J Lyng, Kyra Carlton, Yumi Blake, Raquel Maestre, Hadi Kubba, Viveth K, Raajiee Chelliah, John Cotrocois, there are so, so, so many very funny and talented Canadian comedians and a bunch of them live in Montreal.

Look them up and follow them online, buy tickets to their shows, support them. If you like a comedian, show us. It’s the best feeling in the world.