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April 28, 2022

Comedian Michael Yo On Why You Should Go ALL IN On Your Dream

Comedian Michael Yo On Why You Should Go ALL IN On Your Dream

Michael Yo (@michaelyo) is a comedian and radio & television personality. He joins Chris Van Vliet at the Blue Wire Studios at Wynn Las Vegas to talk about his new comedy special "I Never Thought" and why he funded it himself, how he went from being a TV host to a stand-up comedian, his comedy inspirations, the advice the Kobe Bryant gave him, how his family feels about the jokes he tells about them, how appearing on Chelsea Handler's TV show "Chelsea Lately" started his comedy career, his friendship with Joe Rogan and much more!

Your comedy special is blowing up. Congratulations!

“Thank you. It’s on YouTube and it is pretty amazing. YouTube can be a vicious place, especially with all the comments. I got over 400 comments and only one negative one, I read them all. The only negative comment I got was a lady who goes ‘I am just too tired to watch this!’ That’s not even negative! There is so much love there, man. I had experience with my last comedy special, but I didn’t own it. This one I did everything with my director Coach Taylor. The video clips have gone viral and people are loving it. In less than 2 weeks I got 23,000 followers. The social media game has changed the game, people are coming up to me to do stuff. I used to not be in that game of social media, but Facebook is making me money now through monetisation.”

Facebook has that share button. With YouTube you have to copy the link, but with Facebook all you have to do is click share.

“Right, and then it’s done. I have this tier plan where after a year I will put my special on Facebook, because I own it. I want to maximize each one and see how it will do. This will also be good research so I know how I can strategize.”   

What was the plan here? Because anyone can put something on YouTube and it can either get watched by thousands or not a lot.

“That was the scary thing. My last special went on Amazon, been out for 3 years and only has 160 comments, half of those I begged for! But with this one I had over 400 comments in less than 2 weeks. Also YouTube is a search engine, so the more comments you get, the higher up the rankings it goes and gets recommended. I didn’t pitch it to Netflix, I wanted it out there on March 17th, 2 years to the day after I got COVID. We shot it in February, so we didn’t have much time to turn it around. I shot it in like February 7th. I knew if somebody wanted it, they wouldn’t turn it around like that. YouTube for comedy right now is it.”

Was it Netflix before?

“I mean it still kind of is. I started promoting this thing and fans of whatever show I was on would hit me up and go ‘You are underselling your special.’ I can now say that with the feedback you will laugh within the first 5 seconds, it is so good! To see all the response from YouTube and Facebook, people are loving it and sharing it. This has changed my life in 2 weeks.”

The beauty about YouTube is that this will live on and grow.

“It’s a slow burn. Also with every special that I do, it’s a legacy piece for my family, they can show it to their kids when I am long gone. That’s why I wanted to own the footage too. 50 years after I am gone they may want to do a tribute piece and they will own it. The last special I shot, I didn’t see it until the finished product came out. With this one I can see every cut and I can feel the energy in the room.”

Logistically, what do you pay for?

“I pay for everything and I pay it out of pocket. But I was smart enough to have great friends who gave me great prices. I got the room for a great price, found an up and coming director who wanted their shot, and he shot it beautifully. If any comic is listening, shoot it where you will have a great weekend. I paid off the special in that weekend, I made $0 profit, but it was all paid for, and that is all you can ask.”

Everyone in the audience knows that they are there for the special?

“They all know. So we did 5 shows across Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Thursday was a practice show with no cameras. Friday and Saturday were 2 shows and they were all taped. The crew gets paid the same if they are there for half a day or the full day, so I taped it all. The fourth show on Saturday night was a clean version, because that will get more plays on the radio.”

You’ve been doing this for 11 years. How does it feel that people are now starting to notice you?

“Well this is what I wanted people to notice me for. If you are in entertainment news, which I was in, everyone knows me for that, there is no one new. But during the pandemic, I changed my social media to comedian, I am not a host comedian, it downplays it. Now it is I am comedian Michael You.”

Take this back 11 years. You are having a successful year as a host, what made you step on stage for the first time?

“I was on Chelsea Lately. There were loads of comedians around me and I wasn’t supposed to be funny, I was just supposed to defend the celebrity. I then became the celebrity ass kisser, which everyone would dog on me and make me bigger. I said on Twitter that I wanted to try stand up, which Chelsea saw and put up on the screen being like ‘You're not that funny.’ So I went to the Miami Improv and I crushed it! So I wanted to be somewhere where I am comfortable. I had a huge radio show in Miami at the time, and I did 15 minutes because the crowd was so nice. They were fans of the radio show and just so supportive. The owner of the club was so nice and impressed that he asked me to open up for the Wayans brothers. My second night I am opening up for the Wayans!”

Are you working on stuff constantly?

“Any observation or conversation I have, it goes in my head. I have never written down a joke, I just work on it on stage. My wife said something, this is not a joke, just something that happened. My wife loves the album Confession by Usher, which is about cheating. So I’m like why do women love the bachelor who hooks up with a bunch of different women and love stuff about being cheated on? Dudes don’t like that! It’s just those little things and make it into a big idea. It’s kind of like that door of ‘Women like this, men like that…’ All you need is 3 or 4 funny things.”

When people who don’t know you meet you, what ethnicity do they guess you are?

“Man, I could be anything! I could be Peurto Rican, Dominican, I go to Hawaii and they say welcome home! I’m not from there. This will blow you away, so this show I have coming up is about a mixed race family. 1967 was when interracial marraige was legal in America. Now I know why I didn’t see a lot of interracial families on tv, because it was illegal!”

Did you ever get told that you were going to be part of a project but it didn’t pan out?

“I was told that I was going to get this project the day before, going to sign the contract the next day. The network calls me back and they said they wanted a celebrity. They don’t want hosts anymore, they want a celebrity. At least I am conscious of it and I don’t fight it anymore. It is a trend, but there will never just be a host anymore. They are just not casting normal people anymore.”

It’s a wild profession. You get on stage and try to convince people that your thoughts are funny.

“And most of the audience will have had a crappy day so far. As I started doing standup, you realize that you are transferring all of your positive energy, but their negative energy is going somewhere too. Someone can come into the room and change the whole energy of the room. If this guy has a bad day, I got to make him laugh. I feel the energy process doesn’t happen if the comic is not that confident. But I now understand why people are so drained afterwards, you are absorbing everything.”

I end every interview talking about gratitude. What are 3 things in your life that you are grateful for right now?

“My wife, my kids and all the family around me.” 

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