GIGGLE CITY: Mike Dambra plays Pickle
We can laugh about it now. Or is it … too soon? Mike Dambra doesn’t seem to think so. Doing the emcee gig at the Comic Strip this weekend (for headliner Daniel Kinno) he’s still a bit sore.
Q: What happened?
A: Some rigger guys from Newfoundland said they were allowed to talk because they paid the $10. So I asked them to be quiet, and I zapped them a couple of times pretty nasty. I called them Jersey Shore and I told his girlfriend: “Snooki, your show is cancelled and your hair is out of style.” The guy was offended and they shut up. But I bought them a shot, and toasted them from the stage: “Thanks for being a good sport, buddy. I understand that you don’t get it. You just have to be quiet while we’re up there.” So they took off when I had about five minutes left. They said, “We’re leaving, but we’ll be back!” And everybody laughed and applauded because they were leaving. So Drew and I clear our tabs and leave. They were waiting at the side of building until we got to the truck across the street. Then they ran and pulled us out of the truck, took the keys and tried to fight me two on one. I threw one of them against the truck. So Drew comes over to help me because he thought I’d been stabbed, and they punched him right in the face. That’s when they started scratching me and kicking me. I have scratches on my neck like I fought a girl, and I have lumps on my leg where they were kicking me. So I threw the one guy off, ran to the bar and said we got jumped. And the whole bar emptied out – every man, woman and child. The guys took off. From there it was local justice. Six guys said they knew who they were, jumped into their truck and went straight to their house.
Q: Do you know what happened to them?
A: No, but one lady said they would’ve been better off with the police.
Q: Let’s get to the questions proper. Do you have a bit you’ve dropped that you were sad to let go?
A: I have a bit that I wish I could drop. I’m known for the Pickle Bit. Literally when I get booked people say, “Hey, I want that Pickle guy.” It’s about retarded people. I grew up next to a retarded kid and everybody always used to say he was retarded and I didn’t understand why you couldn’t just call him by his name. Why did he have to be tagged? Why don’t you let the retarded person decide what they want to be called? If you asked one, they’d probably say Pickle. That’s the bit. Then I pick someone from the audience and make him Pickle.
Q: Do you get in trouble for using the word “retarded?”
A: All the time. Even one time, this kid and his parents came to a show because I was donating money to the Special Olympics and still people yelled at me. But it’s not just me saying retarded so I could say retarded. The point is that they’re people, too. The people who really like to pound on me about it say, “They’re like everybody else! They’re just people!” Well, if they are, then they get to get picked on like everybody else. If you’re going to treat them like everyone else, then do that. Don’t put them over in a corner.
Q: Do you have a new bit that’s killing?
A: Yeah, me talking about being a 48-year-old father. My son is 26 and my daughter is two. I don’t know what happened to my balls for two decades, but they started to work again.
Q: Do comics steal material from each other all the time or is there a code?
A: There is a code, but we all do it. Some of us make a habit, a very bad habit, but every comic has done it. If they tell you they don’t, they’re such liars. Especially if you’re brand new. You’re sent on the road, you have only 15, but the booker says you have to do 30. You know you’re borrowing for that last 10 minutes. You’re shucking and jiving. When I was brand new, I thought it was fun to do Howie Mandel’s “Bobby” voice. I thought it was cool because I toured with him for two weeks. Then I got taken aside: “You can’t do that!” But everybody does it. There’s a comic in Florida who changed his last name to Pickle because he was doing my Pickle bit. And a lot of guys called him on it and the Improv fired him and he got into a lot of trouble for it.
Q: Do you have to be a pessimist to be a good comic?
A: Yeah, you have to be either very sad or very angry. Happy doesn’t work in comedy. The more pissed off I am, the funnier I am. If you piss me off before a show, I will destroy that room. I had a gig the day my daughter was born and I died a death. I was so happy, I wasn’t funny at all.
Q: Do you plan to hire some hecklers to make you mad before every show?
A: Usually I try to get the other comic to piss me off. Or I just try to have a conversation with my wife. That usually works.
Q: Any TV work coming up?
A: I moved up here from New York a couple of years ago. My wife had cancer and when she got pregnant, the baby’s immune system cleared out the cancer. But with immigration, they came and checked me out for Comedy Now, but said they can’t give it to me because I’m not Canadian. Maybe when the paperwork goes through I can get something. In the meantime, I’m just touring around and getting beat up.