Comedy Spotlight Q&A: Paul Mecurio

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and guest Paul Mecurio during Tuesday’s July 31, 2018 show. Photo: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS ©2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I chatted with comedian Paul Mecurio about his career moonlighting and his encounter with Paul McCartney

Talk about your upbringing, where you born, etc

I was raised in Providence, Rhode Island in a mostly Italian neighborhood. Went to college in state and worked in the family furniture business. My siblings moved out so I figured it was a prime opportunity to move to the basement, where I would have my own entrance. I moved everything down, my dad comes home and says “I’m not paying for heat downstairs AND upstairs!” So I literally had to move back into my bedroom.

How did you go from Wall Street to being a comedian?

Decided to go into corporate law and didn’t plan on comedy. Loved watching it as a kid, but didn’t plan on doing it. I was writing sketches and short films in law school, working one hundred hour weeks. One of the shorts was entered into an HBO festival. Lied to my boss and said I was going home to help my mom but went to the festival instead ::laughs::

Jay Leno was private entertainment at a work function. So I go up to and tell that I’m a lawyer, etc. and was wondering if he bought jokes. He said “Okay, wah wah wah” which freaked me out because I didn’t think he actually talked that. His head was going back and forth like a stuffed animal ::both laugh:: So a few days later my phone rings. “Is Paul there?” I thought it was a friend of mine messing with me. Wouldn’t you?

He said that he was going to do one of my jokes on “The Tonight Show” tonight. He did the joke, I bought a bottle of champagne, and my girlfriend, now wife, and I celebrated.

At this point, I started moonlighting. Lawyer by day, comic by night. I would go around dive bars in New York City and perform at open mic nights. One of them was called Downtown Beirut 2. I’m guessing they were franchising. Hookers worked out of there. Pimps worked out of there. They dealt drugs out of there. I was on stage one night and a guy got his neck cut over a drug dealer. I made a joke about it and the aggressor throws bloody napkins at me and blood got all over my Brooks Brothers suit. I go back to work and put a big file folder across my ribcage so no one will notice. Of course someone notices and he says “oh a little club soda will take that out!” Someone else goes “no, club soda will take blood out of an Armani suit, not Brooks Brothers.” How did they know what takes out blood stains out of suits? Are they trying to remake “American Psycho” or something?

What was it like winning your first Emmy?

It was pretty crazy. “The Daily Show” at that point was popular but not what it had become a few years later when Jon came in. It was this weird out of body experience when they called our name. It would’ve been different if it was a big show and folks were predicting you to win. But we were this tiny show that just pulled off the win. All of a sudden, I was walking around with the Emmy award in my hand ::laughs::

Winning the Peabody was even crazier. I was in a room with Dan Rather, Peter Jennings..all these serious news people. And then all these schlepps at a table ::laughs:: That was more surreal because we were sort of out of our element being lumped together with the news organizations.

So you have a podcast called “Inside Out.” What do you talk about?

Most talk shows are just marketing for each project the guest is pushing so the more intimate conversations can get lost. So with this podcast, I can actually sit with them and have an actual conversation about their life and processes. I get people on there that I like and that folks would tune in to listen to. Kevin Costner, Kyra Sedgwick, Neal DeGrasse Tyson, have all been guests so far. I remember talking to Kevin Costner about his processes creating music. Same with Billy Bob Thornton. And it didn’t matter which art form we talked about, acting or music. A creative soul is a creative soul.

He was hanging out in the hallway hanging out after a rehearsal at “The Colbert Show” and I was running to get to the studio. Around the corner, all alone, is Paul McCartney just standing there like he was waiting for a bus. My world slowed down and I said in my head “Er Mah Gerd, it’s Paul McCartney ::laughs:: Should I say or not say hi? The hell with it. He’s alone like a gazelle on the Serengeti plains and I’m a lion about to pounce. I go over and start talking to him. “Hi” “great to meet you” and then I start to walk away because I didn’t want to bother him. He goes “Wait, come back.” I go “Ugh why, what do you want? Jesus Christ all you guys are so needy.” I’m kidding ::laughs:: He asks what my name is, that sort of small talk at first. This goes on for about ten minutes or so. Outside I’m cool like I’m talking to you, but inside I’m like “OH MY GOD I’M TALKING TO PAUL MCCARTNEY” like a lunatic. When I was talking to him, I kept inching closer to his face checking him out. You would’ve done the same thing!


You know how monkeys will clean ticks off their mates? I could’ve cleaned ticks off his eyebrows because they were his, ya know? I started talking about my podcast and he asked about it. No lie, I started rubbing my thigh and going “UGGH UGGHH” like Rain Man. He asked about logistics and I said “we can just do it on the phone; we can both be naked from your toilet.” What was I saying?! I wanted to link up with his assistant to set it up but he insisted to just exchange numbers. So there we are exchanging numbers.

Fast forward to when he calls me, and I don’t recognize the number, so he leaves a message. ::plays message::

“Hi Paul, it’s Paul. Going to ring you back in five minutes to do the podcast thing.”

Holy shit. You are going to hold that voicemail until the day you die.

Oh I have it in forty places including my ass. ::both laugh:: I have SO many copies of it. Probably the highlight of my life.

If you told your younger self you would be interviewing all these people, what would your younger self say?

I would tell my younger self to stop smoking weed and focus on your life because you’re going to win an Emmy award, Peabody on “Colbert.” It’s been a great run. I think sometimes there’s just no harm in asking. I think McCartney said yes because I didn’t ask him for an autograph. It was just two guys talking and that’s why he was so generous in letting me interview him.

Favorite film of all time and why?

Hmm… I’m going to have to say “The Godfather.”

::tries to do an impression of Marlon Brando::

What the hell was that?!

::both laugh::

A terrible impression !

I’ve seen it so many times. Every scene draws you in. The drama, the’s just a complete film. When you can watch a movie over and over again, but each time feels like the first? You know it’s special.

Are you excited about your upcoming show in Annapolis?

I’ve been in Annapolis a few times. I’m very comfortable and familiar there. It’s definitely a great venue for comedy. I’m gonna rent a sailors uniform and walk around and pretend I’m important so people will salute me.

You are going to get SO much ass if you do that. ::both laugh::

Paul headlines Rams Head Annapolis on February 9th! Buy tix

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