Comedian Returns to His GR Hometown

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Michael Jr. 2019For comedian Michael Jr., it's all about coming home.

"I get to come to my hometown – my brother and sisters are all around the area and it's gonna be great," said the Grand Rapids native from his home near Dallas, TX.

Michael brings his "In The Moment" comedy tour to Grand Rapids First Church on Sunday March 3 (details below).

It's right here in West Michigan where the Ottawa Hills H.S. grad honed his comedy chops – his second ever "club" date was in the old Comedy Den in Cascade Township.

From that point comic clubs became a second home. He traveled to New York then to Los Angeles where he performed in famous spots such as the Comedy Store and the Laugh Factory.

He scored several national TV appearances on programs such as "The Tonight Show" and "Comedy Central."

Always noted for his "clean," all-ages brand of stage humor, Michael's goal for the last number of years has been "comedy that inspires."

"That's what I want to get across," noted the comedian, now in his 40s. "Not just comedy but comedy that inspires people to do more."

A DIRECTION IN HIS HUMOR

These days most of his concerts happen in churches. Part of the reason is that most churches are larger than comedy clubs and he can reach more people in his faith-based approach. Last year his show at Kentwood Community Church sold out more than a month in advance. This year's local "In the Moment" date is in an even more spacious venue.

     
 

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"I still stop at comedy clubs randomly and get up on stage to make sure the comedy is still as strong as it needs to be," he said of his strategy. "It has to be strong enough for clubs and clean enough for churches – good for all platforms."

Michael Jr. (his stage name), has a variety of TV and film experience. Besides his stand-up comedy, he appeared in the 2015 surprise box-office hit "War Room. And last fall his own comedy/documentary-style film "More Than Funny" played a one-night event in theaters across the country.

On this latest tour the comedian has dedicated more time than ever to "off the cuff," unscripted moments. He comes down into the crowd and mixes it up with fans prompting plenty of spontaneous laughs. It's part of being "in the moment."

It's the same method he uses in his new podcast, called "Off the Cuff." It contains clips from his live shows, revealing interactions with audience members. The two-month old podcast, available via iTunes, already has ten thousand downloads.

HIS OWN KIND OF FUNNY

The comedian tries to get into the minds of audiences with a subtle maneuver. During the opening act, he'll anonymously sit in different places in the audience, seeing it and feeling it the way they do. "It better prepares me to deliver what needs to be delivered – especially on a tour like this where whatever might happen 'in the moment.'"

Micheal barely touches political humor, and weaves together more than rapid-fire one-liners. "With me comedy just shows up. I notice stuff that most people probably wouldn't," he said.

"Like the TV commercial where the lady falls down and says, 'Help....I can't get up.' My first thought was... Why doesn't the camera man help her up? He's right there."

BACK HOME AGAIN

But home is a different kind of challenge for the comedian. Grand Rapids is where they know his name and some of his past. But Michael knows the lay of the land and is on common ground with the crowd.

"Sometimes I'll go to a city beforehand and pick up on some things I can use during the show," he explained. "But in Grand Rapids, I can reference things I already know."

"I am just so pumped about this show," he raved. "People can bring their friends, their enemies if they want - then they'll have some new friends... they can bring their kids, their dogs... well, maybe if they're service animals which would be OK 'cuz they have a job...."

Details:
Michael Jr. and the "In The Moment" Comedy Tour (there is also an opening act)
7pm Sun. March 3 – Grand Rapids First in Wyoming, 2100 44th St. SW
General admission tickets $20, VIP $40, group rate $16. Available online .
     
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Author Information
Terry DeBoer
About:
Terry is journalist who writes for newspapers, magazines, newsletters and websites. His most frequented “beat” is arts and entertainment. He is married with two children and lives in Grand Rapids.

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