"It’s our job to poke holes in everything and not necessarily be the ones to patch them or fix them up.”
This week on Small Talk, we sat down with a compassionate comedian, funny man, and father, Mike Cannon; to chat funny business, balance, and always trying your best.
Mike cannon is a middle child with two sisters that he refers to as, ‘musical prodigies.’ Growing up as the middle child, as well as the only boy in the household, he used humor and comedy to get the attention that he craved.
“To get attention, I always kind of leaned towards humour and disruption, which is also what carried me through school.”
Being the ‘joker’, as he calls it, Michael started bringing his humorous talents with him to school and into the classroom, which would become the first of many crowds that he would soon please.
“My seventh-grade teacher actually gave me my first shot at comedy. The last period of the day was quiet study, and every Friday she would give me the final 20 minutes to practice my stand up.”
With the support and belief from an authority figure, Michael was able to explore and develop his talents from passion into purpose.
“She’s now married and is still a teacher, and she’s actually come out to a few of my shows over the years.”
When we have someone, who believes in us and supports our dreams, we often come to find that the extra bit of leverage and assistance, is what was needed to bring us to the next level.
“She also made me cry a couple of times because she was a very authoritarian teacher, but she definitely balanced it out with the green-lighting of my ambitions.”
Having played college basketball, Michael found himself with talented teammates, all having the potential and skills to play professionally. Through the realization that a basketball career wouldn’t be best suited for himself, Michael brought his comedy onto the court, in hopes of pleasing another crowd.
“I was playing against really stiff competition, very talented athletes, and I found my ceiling pretty quickly with what I was capable of doing. All of my comedy translated, and my teammates loved me for my humour rather than my skillset. I realized that the majority of the reason I was playing basketball, was that I enjoyed the crowd response to something flashy.”
Personality and Passion;
Michael Cannon has flawlessly crafted the art of self-expression. Using his personal life, quirks and character traits, as the basis for many of his jokes.
Growing up, Michael’s relationship with his parents is one that he describes as, ‘closed off’, and ‘impersonal’. Rarely communicating emotion and discussing personal matters, Michael has found that he is quite the opposite when it comes to his approach towards openness and communication.
“I consider myself to be a completely open wound, for better or for worse. My healing takes place on stage. You can see the glint in my eye as I perform, I could swan dive off stage at any given moment.”
Michael is a recent father of an adorable 15-month-old boy named Cru, named after his favorite 1986 biking movie, Rad.
“I can’t believe my wife green-lit that one.”
For anyone, stepping into the role of a parent is new, undiscovered, and often-times intimidating territory. No matter how many books are read, or classes attended, virtually nothing can truly prepare one for the joys, miracles, and blessings that one faces upon greeting their firstborn into the world.
“For a comic to become a parent, I think it’s a wild realization that anything outside of yourself truly exists. So much of my energy and my focus is now devoted to this little person; making sure that they’re healthy and well-fed.”
To get outside of himself and stop ‘batting around with his own issues and narcissism 'like a kitten with a ball of yarn’, has helped Michael get out of his head and step away from his negative thought patterns.
“The fact that I can love something so much, has been so beneficial across the board, not just comedically, but personally as well.”
Before becoming fathers, men across the globe search far and wide for that special advice that might prepare them for becoming a dad. For Michael, the advice that he gave himself, and continues to circle back to when the going gets tough, is to ‘grow up.’
“I think I followed my own advice because my advice to myself was to grow up. It would be pretty bad news if I don’t follow that advice.”
Life is all about balance. Balancing personal and professional life, along with time for leisure and family. For Michael and his wife, becoming parents has been a great reminder that having balance is crucial when taking on a new role.
“Before, my life was all comedy all of the time. My wife also owns her own business, so we made sure to carve out ‘us time', but since having our son, my wife and I, together, have refocused and reframed that the family is 100% first.”
Reorganizing and reprioritizing their time, Michael and his wife have found a way to use what was once, ‘thoughtless phone scrolling time’, as a valuable period to get what needs to be done, done.
“All of what used to be just extraneous time is now functional time.”
Strength in Stumbling;
“Throughout my whole career, and even to this day, stumbling is never out of sight. Especially with comedy, it's ‘tent pull moments’, with a whole lot of sh*t in between. There’s a lot of heartbreak, there’s a lot of nos. You have to be resilient, and you have to be a little bit delusional at the same time, just so you can weather the negativity.”
What Michael refers to as, ‘tent pull moments’, are the very moments that propel him through the hard times. Hearing uproarious laughter from a crowd, and seeing smiling faces looking up at him, are what fuel his fire and remind him of why he started.
In using this fuel, Michael has crafted a way to pull himself through and propel himself forward, as opposed to waiting for life to do it for him.
“Nobody was offering me a special, so I went out and shot one. None of my comedic heroes offered to do the interviews or take part in my special, so I went out of my way to get them.”
Michael recently released his new YouTube comedy special, ‘Life Begins’, a special that was brought to life through his own efforts and actions. The same goes for Michael's role in the new Amazon Movie 'Timing', a film that was independently financed and put together by himself and his team.
“We just went out, gave it our all, and did it. I’m not one for waiting, and comedy has taught me that you can either be someone who waits for approval and opportunities, or you can create the opportunities for yourself.”
In today’s world, more often than not, we seem constantly be waiting for the green light from others, and continuously seeking their approval. Whether it be an innate sense of entitlement or privilege that we are born into, we believe that the world owes us for simply living in it.
“I grew up spoiled, not in a material way, but spoiled in the sense that I believed I deserved to receive certain things just for being alive, and it took comedy to break me.
As quoted by Marc Maron, ‘Show business isn’t my parents.’ This means that anyone in the entertainment industry isn’t owed any opportunity over another. It’s a world in which, if you want it, you’re going to have to go get it.
“It took me a long time to realize that show business doesn’t owe me anything. As a matter of fact, no one is asking me to even be a part of it. So, if I’m demanding to be a part of it, I should, in good faith, create the opportunities I seek.”
When we begin to realize that our lives are what we make them, and we are ultimately in control of our fates, we drop the expectation that someone, somewhere, is going to hand us our dreams on a silver platter.
“If someone is going to offer me an opportunity or not, at the end of the day, I have this foundation that I’ve built for myself and a self-sustaining career. It takes you getting there, personally and by yourself, to get to that level.”
Laugh a Little;
“I think people, especially now, and justifiably so, take things very seriously. There’s a serious tone in society and I think that it’s a comedian’s job to break that up.”
Unfortunately, in such polarized times, both politically and socially; with the election recently having taken place, the pandemic still hanging in the air, and countless other global issues facing us daily, finding the light at the end of the tunnel, sometimes seems impossible.
“The whole purpose of a comedian is to shatter everything and show you that what’s considered to be important, is important, yet isn’t at the same time. We’re all going to die. So, a comedian is almost like a joker, in the sense that it’s pure chaos, and it’s our job to poke holes in everything and not necessarily be the ones to patch them or fix them up.”
When people begin to take themselves less seriously and open up to the idea that you can separate humor, from serious causes, we come to find many situations that once seemed uncomfortable, become laughable.
“Giving people the space to look at their situations, and themselves especially, through a more humorous lens, takes what was once considered a weight, and turns it into a lighter load.”
“My dad has only given me one piece of advice in my entire life, and it was, ’let your bat do the talking.’
At age 4, Michael was signed up to play baseball. After each game, upon hitting the ball or defeating the opposing team, young Michael would brag and gloat about his skill set and talent.
“I would come home, cocky and confident, and start bragging to my parents. They always rooted for me and supported me but reminded me that no one is interested in listening to someone who can’t shut up about themselves, so, let your bat do the talking.”
This piece of advice has been carried by Michael throughout his life and into his professional career as a comedian. It is an important reminder that no matter our achievements or skills, remaining humble and modest is where our true strength resides.
“You could walk around with the attitude of, ‘I’m the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be’, or you could say, ‘here’s my act’, I’ll let you be the judge.”
We asked Michael Cannon what he knows 100% to be true, his answer;
“One thing I know one hundred percent to be true is that I’m never going to stop trying. I’ve watched family members, friends, and many people tap out in their efforts in life and become content with coasting.”
We have been given this beautiful gift of life to learn, grow, and evolve into all that we are meant to become. No matter how much we believe we know, there is always space to learn.
Michael Cannon believes that there is no ‘finish line’ when it comes to effort and evolution, and at TrooMe, we couldn’t agree more.
“I look at this as it’s a sliver of consciousness and a weird experience that we’re even on this hurdling rock through an infinite abyss. So, while I’m here, I’m not just going to sit back on a chaise lounge and relax. I’m going to try and push myself; hopefully, grow, fail, succeed, and do all of the things that I have the ability to do. I want to feel it all. I want to get everything I can out of this.”
At TrooMe, we believe that no matter how inexplainable the human experience is, it’s a beautiful one, nonetheless. We may not have all of the answers, but what we, like Michael Cannon know one hundred percent, is that we will never stop giving it our best shot.
May we follow in Michael’s footsteps, being our vulnerable, messy, and chaotic selves, always leaving room for laughter, and treating the world as our stage.