Comedian Gary Cannon – Living The Dream

Josh Belcher At Rocking Gods House

Gary Cannon is living the dream and touring the world as a stand-up comedian with a very heavy touring schedule. Gary has performed as the feature act for some of the best in the business: Bob Saget, Dana Carvey, Ralphie May, and David Alan Greer to name a few. He’s also performed as a “warm-up” for the audiences of Dancing with the Stars, America’s Got Talent, Chelsea Lately, Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Last Call with Carson Daly, Lopez Tonight, and MTV’s Jersey Shore Reunion Show.

And, in case you’re curious, a “warm-up” comedian is a comic who performs prior to the taping of a television show to ready the crowd for the show or the main act. The warm-up comic’s role is to make the audience feel integral to the show, and encourage reactions during the taping of the show.

After watching Gary perform, I was hooked. His stage presence, comfort, and confidence is admirable and inspiring. He’s that guy who can say or do anything and get away with it because of his cool-headed calm and charm.

However, more than any of those things, Gary Cannon is a great person and, as a student of comedy myself, he has been a fantastic mentor. Any time I have questions, Gary has encouraging words and advice. In addition, he donates much of his time to a cause that is near to his heart: autism. After he learned that his niece was autistic, he dedicated much of his time to performing for benefits to raise awareness about the condition.

Gary Cannon is a seasoned 15 year veteran who has perfected the craft of stand-up comedy. If you ever have the opportunity to see him perform, I urge you to take it. You won’t be disappointed. I give him 4 out of 4 stars!

I caught up with him recently and had the chance to ask him a few questions:

You have a stage presence in stand-up that many would envy. You have a cool comfort when you perform. How long did it take you to develop your stage presence?

When I got into stand-up, I was lazy. I never wrote new material. I was envious of my comic friends who always had new stuff they were trying out. We’d go on the road and travel six hours to make a hundred dollars. We each had to do about thirty minutes each. It was easy for them because they had material, and I didn’t. So I started doing crowd work. For years it was up and down, most nights down. I remember I was working In Sunnyvale, CA at a club and learned a big lesson about crowd work that changed everything. If you’re insulting an audience member, do it with a smile.

What is a “fluffer” in the comedic world?

I’m a fluffer for comedy and television shows. It’s being the first person a studio audience sees when they sit down before a main event starts. I’ve worked on shows that were complete garbage and cancelled only after several weeks. But when the audience sits down and I come out, I turn on the energy so high and create this illusion that they are about to see a Beatles reunion. The more popular shows like Ellen and Big Bang Theory the easier it is because their fans may have waited months to get tickets. Those shows are great because the audience is already electric. Other shows (some of which I’ve worked) have to hire people to sit in the audience simply because nobody has an interest in seeing the show. So it’s local LA wanna-be actors who sit in the audience for three dollars an hour. Those shows are hard to do and believe me I’ve done a ton of them.

I’ll tell any comic starting out to become a good host. Comics hate hosting. If you become a good host, headliners will often take you on the road. I’ve been really lucky getting to work with a ton of great guys on the road by hosting. I love the challenge of getting a comedy show started and bringing the energy from 0-60 mph within a few seconds. I love setting a tone for the show especially because it’s a night out for people. I always dress up and take the hosting job seriously.

Tell us the TV programs you have performed on?

I just got back from New York City where I did the AXS live show filmed at Gotham Comedy Club. It was a blast because it was live, and my mom in Michigan got to watch as it aired. I’ve been on Carson Daly, and I did a show called Who Wants To Date A Comedian. I’ve been in town a lot doing audience warm-up for shows like Sullivan & Son on TBS w/ Steve Byrne. Just worked on Americas Funniest Videos. I’m starting to work on another TBS sitcom called Men at Work. The great thing about sitcoms is they pay really well. I can make more money working in one night than being on the road for three to four weeks, and I get to sleep in my own bed at night.

What is your favorite performance you have done so far?

Without a doubt my favorite performance was going to Iraq in 2011 and performing for the troops. It was just amazing to be that far away and to give those amazing men and women a chance to escape the craziness of everything and make them laugh. To eat with them and fly to different locations on a Black Hawk helicopter was a memory I will never forget. Oh, and they all had guns, so no crowd work there. I would go back in two seconds. I still look at my pictures from Iraq and say to myself how many people can say they’ve been to Iraq.

You are on the road a lot. Who are some of the comics you perform with?

A few years ago I got to work with Mitch Fatel. It was a blast. It’s always fun working with guys you respect and are friends with off-stage. I mean, if you do the show, and then head back to your room and don’t see each other till the next night it stinks. You don’t want to hang out in Sarasota, Florida all day on your own. It’s funny anytime you work in Vegas. It’s a long week, usually Tuesday through Sunday. Every time I’ve done Vegas, you meet the other guys, and they all say hey let’s hang this week. Then Sunday comes, and it’s like hey sorry we didn’t get a chance to hang out. Truth is nobody wanted to make an effort. I’ve also worked with Ralphie May a lot. He’s become a good friend over the years. My 13-year-old niece in Michigan has autism and Ralphie came up to Michigan on his day off and did a benefit show for her school and raised over ten thousand dollars for the school to buy iPads and other cool things. I will never forget his generosity.

Do you have a CD coming out?

Just recorded a CD/DVD and hope to have it out soon. It’s going to be called “This is Where the
Cover Charge Starts to Make Sense.”

What projects are you currently apart of?

We just wrapped doing the second season of Sullivan & Son and after we finished taping me and the other guys Steve Byrne, Owen Benjamin, Roy Wood and Ahmed Ahmed went on an eight-week tour criss-crossing the country doing comedy shows and promoting Sullivan & Son. We did Boston, Pittsburgh, Detroit, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle — to name a few — and we ended the tour in Maui. I mean, how can you beat getting an all-paid trip to Hawaii because you have one show. It’s pretty cool. We wrapped the tour in late August, and all the guys are doing their own things until we start production again in March 2014. I had a bunch of fall tour dates scheduled with just Steve, including Florida and Chicago, but I had to cancel them because I got that warm-up gig on Men at Work. We start filming in November on Friday nights, so I was bummed because I thought we might be able to film on Tuesday and I could still go on the road with Steve, but it didn’t happen. Actually, I’m going to be in NYC on Jan 25th doing warm-up for Steve’s new Comedy Central special so that’s cool. I will say that Steve and the entire cast of Sullivan & Son is by far the best group I’ve ever worked with. They’re so generous, and they took such good care of me on the road as if I were their little annoying brother.

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