Comic Mike Gaffney finds humor in raising two kids on his own
When Mike Gaffney was a youngster growing up in Jersey City, he spent a lot of time in his parents’ living room entertaining his older relatives.
“For as long as I can remember, whenever there were adults at the house, no matter what I was doing, I was the one called in” to help them relate their funny stories.
“You know what I mean — the adults are all sitting around telling family stories” and the cousins are attempting to play together somewhere else, doing whatever. “But then I’d hear, ‘Mikey, come in here. Let Mikey tell the story.’ ”
So Gaffney said he got the drift early on. “I obviously had a talent, even as a kid, for storytelling, a way of knowing how to say things at the appropriate time,” he said. Many refer to that as “comic timing” and apparently he was born with the gift.
As a 46-year-old single parent of two children — a 17-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter — Gaffney said he has plenty of his own stories to tell these days, and he’s doing it as a stand-up comic in many of the famous comedy venues in the nation. (Those are his kids, by the way, on the cover of his recently released debut CD, “My Kids Need You to Buy This.”)
Although he didn’t take to the stage until he was 32, Gaffney said in a telephone interview from his New Jersey home that he’s happy to have finally found his niche. He has appeared on “The Artie Lange Show,” has two appearances on “Gotham Comedy Live,” AXS TV and NBC’s “30 Rock.”
Gaffney, who is slated to do three performances Thanksgiving weekend at Mohegan Sun’s Comix club, said his style is conversational and observational — discussing day-to-day life in general and as a father, friend, son and uncle.
Although he said he has been “clean and sober” for nearly 23 years, Gaffney rarely uses that part of his life as routine fodder.
“I don’t mind talking about it, but I don’t think it’s very funny. And if I don’t find things funny, I wouldn’t want to bore the audience. And furthermore, it’s all ancient history; my kids weren’t even born” when he was going through recovery.
A semi-finalist on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” Gaffney is the type of comic “who people all over find ... very likable, (with) high energy and quick wit (that) keeps audiences engaged and entertained the entire time,” said the folks at Comix.
“When I was younger, it never even occurred to me that stand-up was a career (option) for someone like me. Then one night I was having dinner with a friend, who would play his guitar at open mic nights” around New York. “He’s the one who suggested I try the open mic nights as a stand-up comic.”
And he did. “As a comedian, you are totally in control” of your own destiny, but “always worried about audience reaction.” As a challenge and to grow as a performer, Gaffney is taking acting lessons.
“I have to say, I had no experience with taking directions” from coaches and directors, he said, laughing, noting that he is finally catching on.
firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: PhyllisASBoros
Comix comedy club at Mohegan Sun, 1 Mohegan Sun Blvd., Uncasville. Friday, Nov. 27, 8 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 28, 8 and 10 p.m. $50-$20, with a $10 food/drink minimum. 888-226-7711, mohegansun.com