By Erin Crowell
Stand-up comic Mike Stanley is a lot like the venue hell be performing at this weekend: dark and off-the-wall. The Detroit native and Last Comic Still Standing 2005 winner will be performing at InsideOut Gallery in Traverse City, Jan. 29 & 30.
I love that place, Stanley says of InsideOut. I love the art, how the place is set up. I really dig that place.
Its a location that suits Stanleys style of comedy.
Somebody once did a review and called me dark and hilarious, he says. Thats probably the best way to sum it up.
So, what exactly is dark comedy?
I want to push you somewhere you dont want to go. Then, I want to make you laugh about it, he says. People are just so serious about things, its ridiculous.
It will be a return trip for the guy whose style of comedy has been called high energy and fearless. Hes proven to be an audience favorite as he was recently voted Best Comedian in Chicago his now homebase on a busy touring schedule.
I started in the Detroit area and it was always a pain in the ass to drive out of Michiganits a peninsulajust to go to tour out of Chicago.
Stanley says he grew up watching standup.
Ive always been a huge fan ever since I was a kid. Id watch everything from Cosby to Carlin. As a kid, when you see someone like Gallagher you think its the funniest damn thing in the world.
I did my first stand-up when I was in seventh grade. It was a talent show. I thought it was really bad, but I won third place. I didnt know how to go about being a stand-up comic. I thought you had to be from Hollywood or something.
As he got older, Stanley observed other comics at local open mic nights.
I started watching people. They thought no matter what, if they have a microphone in their hand they thought people would laugh.
He started out slow, but eventually Stanley got better, turning five minute stand-ups into 50. Bill Bushart, another comic at Joeys Comedy Club in Livonia, asked Stanley if hed be interested in touring with him.
I went from the opening act to the guy headlining, Stanley says.
Stanley has been touring relentlessly for the past five years, landing gigs all over the Midwest, including return bookings at the Chicago Improv.
Im pretty much booked solid through July.
When hes not touring, Stanley is co-host of the popular podcast Red Bar Radio, which in early 2009 earned number one on Podcast Alley, an online directory for thousands of podcasts, and is still currently holding in the top 10 list.
He also just signed a deal with Stand Up! Records and just finished shooting for his hour-long DVD, Tough Luck, Chump!, and has his documentary Salty Language, Peppered Morals (about the Boston Comedy Festival) available through Red Bar Radio.
So, whats a guy with all these projects doing, coming to a small town like Traverse City?
I really like the little beach towns, he says. Sometimes it doesnt matter how big the crowd is, as long as the people are into the show.
Having a good time is a two-way street for Stanley.
(Onstage) is probably the most comfortable place I feel, other than being in the shower.
See why Mike Stanley is one of the funniest guys onstage, when he performs January 29 & 30 at the InsideOut Gallery in Traverse City, located at 211 Garland Street in the Warehouse District. Both shows start at 8 p.m. Admission is $10. Visit insideoutgallery.com or check out Stanleys podcast at