Mike Goss Interview
He’s worked with Joey Dee and the Starliters, The Platters, The Coasters,
The Boxtops, Danny and the Juniors, Gary Lewis And The Playboys, The Belmont’s,
and Bill Haley’s Comets, to mention just a few names. And those are just
the musical acts.
He’s worked with comedians Angel Salazar, Marty Putz, Reed Rankin,
Rene Hicks, Tracy Smith, and Bobcat Goldthwait to again, mention just a few
He’s performed at The Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York, Cazenovia
College, Syracuse University, Paul Smith’s College, SUNY at Oswego, SUNY
at Cortland, the Giggles Club in Utica, The Comedy Works in Albany, The Comix
Café in Buffalo, and the list goes on and on.
Who is this person you might ask?
Well, it’s Syracuse, New York’s own comic Mike Goss, a man who
the Syracuse New Times described as the “ Salt City’s Funniest
And that is where we started with our line of questioning.
Q – Mike, The New Times has called you “The Salt City’s
A – Wow! (Laughs). You’ve done your research.
Q – Now, in these politically correct times, why can’t you just
be called “The Salt City’s Funniest Man”? Why Fatman? Aren’t
you offended by that?
A – I’m absolutely not offended by that. I don’t know why
they call me that. I think that article was written by Russ Tarby, who’s
a good friend of mine. At the time I was probably doing Monday mornings with
Big Mike and Gomez on Y94 (local Syracuse radio station). So, there was a controversial
little thing about who was the funniest fat guy. Steve Corlett was around then
on 95X. So, there was a few fat guys around. I guess he called me the funniest
fat guy and I didn’t mind that at all. I’m not offended by stuff
like that. I’m a comedian. I’ve got to be able to take some pokes,
you know. I give enough out.
Q – When did you get into comedy and why? Did
someone tell you-----you are really funny!!
A – Originally, let’s say 1975…First of all. I was a funny
guy all my life, like the class clown, the big hit of the party. People gather
around me at parties for fun, outspoken. Had a lot of laughs. Always had a
sense of humor. 1975 I tried an open mic night at a place called Under the
Stone in Skaneateles. The old Stone Mill. Bobcat Goldthwait was there. Tom
Kenny was there. Barry Crimmins was there. Another local comedian from Cortland
was there. I went onstage a couple of times and I realized how difficult it
was. You gotta be in control, when you’re on the stage. When you go up
there and somebody yells fatty at you, you can’t break. You gotta go
up there and be comfortable with yourself. And-----I wasn’t comfortable
with myself. I came back in the 80’s and tried again. Again, not comfortable
with myself. I tried Wiseguys (club) back in the 80’s. I felt like I’m
lookin’ like a freak. All of a sudden I come back in the 90’s,
and it was like magic. I just felt comfortable. I came back in 1990. It was
my 16 th year. I feel funny. Not only do I feel funny, I’m ready. I feel
disciplined. I have the self-control up there. I have the self-respect for
myself. I’m confident in myself. And that’s what you need in comedy.
Not just being funny. It’s a lot of other things. So now when I hit the
stage I feel like I’m King of the Mountain. I don’t feel like anybody
can beat me now. That’s the way you gotta feel-----like a fighter. Almost
like a fighter in the corner. When the bell goes off it’s your fight.
You gotta be confident in yourself, not matter what you do. In comedy it’s
very difficult, because you’re all alone up there. It’s not like
being a band member in an orchestra. If you blow the wrong note nobody hears
it. You’re by yourself (in comedy) and you’re the focal point.
So, you really gotta be confident and sure of yourself. You can’t have
doubts about yourself when you get up there. So, that’s the whole thing.
Comedy is a funny business. I sing too, so I know the difference. Comedy requires
energy. You really gotta be on top of things. You really gotta control that
crowd ‘cause you can lose ‘em. In comedy, your crowd has got to
hear you. In music they just listen. That’s the difference. Comedy, you
gotta have their attention. Whatever you say, they gotta hear you. In music,
people are talking, having a good time. Eating their lunch. Eating their dinner.
Sitting down having a drink. I’m singing. They’re talking. I don’t
mind that. In comedy I demand your attention, and then I give you my stuff.
Q – Is your career best served by staying in Syracuse?
Would you be better off by being in a bigger city like New York, Las Vegas,
or Los Angeles?
A – I couldn’t do it because of my family. I actually got into
comedy now too late. If I would’ve gotten into comedy in the 70’s,
I’m sure I’m sure I would’ve be up there right now. I have
no doubt that I would have been up there with the rest of the guys. That’s
when comedy broke, in the late 70’, early 80’s. I know I would’ve
done well, but I couldn’t. I had a family at the time. I still have a
family. I just couldn’t pick up and leave. I already had a job and place
so I couldn’t pick up and leave, like a lot of other comics. They were
kind of free wheelin’ it, you know. They could take off and go, but I
already had commitments. Back in the 90’s, I was 37. So, I started pretty
Q – Rodney Dangerfield started when he was 40.
A – Right. He did. That’s what I had heard. But, I definitely
would’ve done better. I never even went to New York. I never tried any
of that stuff. I’ve worked at a lot of places, especially along the East
Coast. I worked a lot in New Jersey, Philadelphia. I’ve done a lot of
stuff down that way. But, I never made an attempt to go into the big city.
I’m just too old for that now.
Q – You do your own booking?
A – Yes. I do have a few agents that book for me, but I do my own booking
Q – You had this weekly dinner show going at the Spaghetti Warehouse
(in Syracuse) didn’t you?
A – For five years I did a weekly dinner show at Spaghetti Warehouse.
Then I did a monthly dinner show for another two years. That was because I
was getting too busy to do weekly’s anymore. So then I left Spaghetti
Warehouse after about 8 years. I went to Tony’s Family Restaurant (on
Burnet Ave. in Syracuse) for I’m gonna say 3 years. Right now, I’m
booking what I want to book. Somebody calls me for a special booking-----I’ll
take it. A little party-----I’ll take it. But, I’m not travelin’ around
lookin’ for work. A couple of years ago I decided not to do anymore clubs.
First of all, club owners are not what they used to be. There’s only
a couple of guys left that are decent. Everybody else is a hawk. They treat
you like a slob. They want to put you up in a little room behind the places,
a junk room. There’s no respect. They don’t want to pay good. So,
I don’t want to do any comedy club work. I dropped into the new level,
the corporate level, corporate, private parties. That’s probably where
my niche is right now. It’s the best niche. I’ve probably been
in that niche I’m gonna say for about 3 years now. They pay better. They
treat you better. It’s only a one-time thing, so it’s not a big
Q –You do this tribute to Frank Sinatra. When
did that come about-----and why?
A – Sinatra. That’s funny. I started doing some comedy impressions
probably about 10 years ago (1996). I did a Louie Armstrong, a Joe Cocker,
and ‘Phantom of the Opera’, with the wardrobe. I put the hat and
the mask on, the cape. It’s Michael Crawford who did the Phantom. Those
were the only three impressions I did. People after shows used to say, you’ve
got a beautiful voice. You oughta sing! And all of a sudden I said, you know
what? Maybe I should start singing! I thought why not sing Sinatra? I wanted
to be one of the first people to come back with the old stuff. So, that’s
what I did. I did the kind of a tribute to Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Usually
when people hire me, they hire me to sing and do comedy. It’s kind of
a package that I now sell. I sing most of the Rat Pack stuff-----Sinatra, Dean
Martin stuff. People enjoy it.
Q – You sing to pre-recorded music?
A – Yes. Karaoke. My daughter works for me. She does all my sound,
Kimberly. She does all my sound equipment. She’s my roadie. Puts everything
together and I just get up onstage and do my thing. Let’s say o get hired
for a corporate party, I sing during the cocktail hour or during dinner perhaps.
Then after dinner do a half-hour, 45 minutes of comedy. So, they have the option
of whether they want the singing or not. People like the singing. It’s
nice. It’s comfortable. It’s relaxing. His music (Frank Sinatra)
is never gonna die. I always liked his music anyway. I sing some Beatles stuff
too. But, I like Sinatra, Neil Diamond, easy kind of listening.
Q – Where do you draw your material from? Daily
A – Life. I live my material. If I go on a trip, that’s my material.
I go to the store, that’s material. Just livin’ everyday. I don’t
do too much political stuff. I just talk about life and how things have changed
since I was a kid. The name of my show is called ‘That’s the truth’.
I tell everybody that’s the truth. I’m not really politically correct.
I call a spade, a spade. I go out there and tell people how it was. That’s
the way it goes. I just tell the truth. That’s where I get my humor-----growing
up, getting married, living in an Italian-American household, growing up Catholic,
parochial school, that type of thing.
Q – What high school did you graduate from?
A – C.B.A.
Q – What do you like about doing stand-up?
A – The one thing I gotta tell you about and I gotta make sure I say
this and I tell this to everybody: throughout all the years I’ve done
it, I’ve met the most wonderful people in the world. If you watch CNN,
Fox and the news everyday you’re pounded by all these creeps and S.O.B.’s
that are on this earth, and sometimes you lose faith. I’ve met the most
wonderful people, sweet people, especially after 9-11. After 9-11 was a big
turning point. It took awhile but all of a sudden after 9-11, people wanted
to laugh. They were so sick and tired of seeing those planes hit the building
and the dust and the people. It was awful. So after 9-11, there was maybe a
couple of months, people said we gotta go out and laugh. If you made people
laugh after 9-11, man, you hit their soul. I remember working down in Jersey,
big guys hugging me and crying. Just laughing and saying, ‘Thank-you.
God brought you here tonight for me’. There’s nothing better than
getting a feeling like that, that you made somebody laugh who’s hurting.
That’s one of the things comedy has given me. I’ve done o.k. with
it. I never went to Hollywood. I never made it to the national level. What
I’ve done is touched peoples’ hearts, and I’ll never forget
that. I’ve met the greatest people and that’s my whole thing about
Q – You were in that movie “Shakes the Clown” with
Bobcat Goldthwait. What was that experience like?
A – A couple of weeks before Bobcat was making the movie a friend of
mine who was out in California, who also knew Bobcat said, Bobcat’s looking
for extras. You want to be an extra in the film? I said sure. I thought what
the hell I might as well do it. My wife and daughter and I flew out to California.
I spent 3 days on the set. I did a couple of scenes with Bobcat, and Tom Kenny
and LaWanda Page, from ‘Sanford and Son’. I did a couple of scenes
with her and ‘Downtown Julie Brown’. It was pretty funny. You had
to be on set at 6:30am and do wardrobe, and get your hair done and make-up
and everything. It was pretty cool. It was just fun being around everybody.
Having lunch with everybody and hanging around the set. I was never in a movie
before. After the movie came out, I think I’m in the movie for 2 seconds.
You might see my back in a bar scene. Bobcat and I did a gig here in Syracuse
probably a year after his movie. After the gig or before the gig, I went into
his dressing room and he said, I am so sorry that I didn’t get more scenes
of you in the movie, get you to talk or something. He had problems with finances.
Doing the movie, they had problems with editing. They had a mess. That was
pretty cool of him to say that. We kind of came up through comedy together.
We started the same night together.
Q – Where do you go from here?
A – I have no clue. I don’t know what the future is gonna bring
for me. I wanna do more comedy. I wanna do more singing. I don’t know
if I have any big adventure for the future. I do wanna make people laugh. I’m
trying to continue making people laugh right up until my last breath!!
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