Comedy just seemed natural: Meet Michael Balazo
Known for his chops as a writer and a standup comedian, Michael Balazo makes his comedy album debut with Complete Discography.
As a writer, the Toronto-based Balazo has credits that include stints on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Schitt's Creek, Gary and his Demons and The Beaverton, which earned Balazo a Canadian Screen Award nomination. CBC Radio fans will also recognize Balazo's work as the head writer for This is That.
In celebration of his new album, Complete Discography (streaming now on all major platforms), we asked Balazo to take our questionnaire. Here's what he had to say;
1. Where do you come from, and what were you like growing up?
I've lived in Toronto for a long time, but I was definitely formed in the suburbs of Calgary and Toronto. I went to high school in Oshawa, which is the perfect city for shaping a young man's mind. As a kid, I had a ninja outfit and was afraid of dogs. Unlike an actual ninja.
2. What kind of first impression do you hope to make on audiences when you step on stage?
When I step on stage, I want the audience to say to themselves, "Who is this marvellous man with such a unique look???"
3. When did you first know you wanted to do comedy? When did you decide it was a career?
From an early age my brother Terrance and I were always recording ourselves doing "skits" and funny voices and things. Trying out comedy just seemed natural. I guess I began thinking of comedy as a career when I started getting a bit of writing work. Should I have chosen literally any other career instead? Possibly!
Recording my album was a high point. Those shows were very fun, and I'm glad I squeezed them in before all live entertainment stopped… forever? Another great moment was when I did Mark Forward's Christmas show last year at Comedy Bar in Toronto. I had bombed earlier, but Mark brought me back out at the very end to do my entire set again while he sort of berated the audience. What had originally been a seven-minute set then somehow stretched out to over an hour, and the audience didn't get to leave until about 1 a.m. It was very nice.
There are too many low moments to mention, but one that sticks out is the time my friend and I were doing a bit where we were pretending to be in the army. While we were up there, a man in the audience walked to the front of the stage and said we shouldn't make jokes about war. Apparently, he had been in a war? The mood became heavy, so we stopped and got off stage. We felt bad until we learned afterward that this man had been walking from table to table all night, asking women if they wanted to do cocaine with him in the bathroom. You don't forget these moments.
5. Who are your comedy heroes? Who do you look to for inspiration?
Growing up, I loved the usual stuff. SCTV, SNL, The Kids in the Hall. Of course I love Chris Rock, John Mulaney and Paul F. Tompkins. Sadly, a lot of the big standups I liked as a little kid are cancelled now. Either that, or they've become full-blown reactionaries. Not good! These days, I get a lot of inspiration from opening up the newspaper and saying, "What the???"
6. What other fellow comics should Canadians know about?
There are so many great Canadian comedians who should be huge. I'd recommend checking out Tim Gilbert, Jackie Pirico, Gavin Pounds, Brandon Ash-Mohammed, Ben Stager, and Definition of Knowledge, Hannan Younis and Bryn Pottie's comedy duo.
Follow Balazo on Twitter at @mbalazo.