In the final episode of “Going Out With Jake Cornell,” Jake goes out with comedian Mia Jackson. The two discuss Atlanta nightlife, being on the road, and stand-up newbies. Tune in for more.

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Jake Cornell: Hi.

Mia Jackson: Hi.

J: Wait. We were just talking before we started recording, you came to New York in 2019?

M: 2019. Officially in 2019, yes.

J: Where were you before that?

M: Mostly in Atlanta. That’s pretty much where I started.

J: Did you grow up there?

M: No. I grew up in — it’s Columbus, Georgia which is about an hour and 20 minutes southwest of Atlanta.

J: OK, nice. Did you move to Atlanta to do comedy?

M: Yes, pretty much — well, you got me so early. I moved there for “comedy” but I was like, I’m going to go shack up with a man.

J: Oh, sure, we all got to get somewhere somehow.

M: That’s how I ended up there.

J: OK, but what is — I haven’t talked to anyone who’s come up in the Atlanta scene, what’s the scene in Atlanta like?

M: Let me see, I haven’t been a part of it in a very long time because even when I got here in 2019, I still left Atlanta around 2017 and I was just on the road and kind of back and forth. The Atlanta scene is very strong, I would probably say, for the last 15 years or so. A lot of good comics have come out of Atlanta. We had a run where three or four years in a row like somebody was a JFL new face, one person — he won Last Comic Standing and that season, it was a bunch of Atlanta comics on their period. It’s a bunch of people that are here now too.

J: Yes. I feel like art and culture in Atlanta is like, I got this sense that it really exists within its own community in the city and it’s not as much about like — I think this happens a little in Chicago but less there now, and more so with Atlanta, it’s like more about just actually that scene and being successful within that scene, rather than trying to make it big or whatever and so there’s such good drag in Atlanta, there’s such good comedy in Atlanta because it’s like-

M: Oh, yes.

J: I think things like that thrive in a more insular cultural context.

M: Yes, absolutely and I think that was the thing about just that scene where it’s like everybody was always pushing each other to be better and it would be like one person would pop and then they would go and then it would be like, “Well, who’s the next one?” It was very much like, “Let me get really good here first”, and then some people were like, “Do I even really need to leave?”

J: If you’re paying your bills and having a good time, I get that.

M: Yes, and especially since so many people got stuff just being in Atlanta so it was like, “Oh, well, if I got JFL from living here, then do I need to move?” You know, that kind of thing.

J: What inspired you to go then?

M: Well, my lease was running out and this is such an awful reason but I had like a series of just minor car accidents.

J: You were like, “Let me go to a city where I don’t drive.”

M: That’s such a stupid reason, I was like, my insurance kept going up so much to where I was like, “This is bad.”

J: That’s so funny.

M: Isn’t that ridiculous? I was like, “You know what? I was saying, I need to go to New York forever and I’m like, “Do I want to pay?” Because this is how bad it was, my car insurance was about as much as my car payment.

J: No, at that point, no.

M: I was like let me just go sit in this car down and let me get somewhere else.

J: Wow, that is — here’s the thing. That’s actually such a good reason to move to New York because like, I literally lost the fiscal visibility to drive.

M: Isn’t it ridiculous? I was just like-

J: Oh, it’s funny.

M: I still have the car, it’s just not with me here.

J: Respect.

M: I was like-

J: Except for when you need it.

M: I’ll leave it. My boyfriend — I live with him. I was like, “Here, if I need to come drive, I’ll get it.”

J: Absolutely. You mentioned there’s a period of time where you were based in Atlanta, but you were mostly on the road?

M: Yes.

J: Did you like being on the road?

M: You know? Here’s the thing. For anyone who is curious about the road, it can be very tiring.

J: Yes.

M: This is what I was doing. In between that time, after I left Atlanta, I was also hanging out in DC, because that’s where my boyfriend lives, I was around that area, then I would come here and I would just be kind of just doing a whole bunch of-

J: Just up and down the East Coast.

M: Just up and down the East Coast but I was driving a lot and it was, it’s-

J: Yes, that’s the thing that people who don’t do comedy, or — it’s probably the same with musicians, actually, it’s like definitely with musicians, but it’s like, it’s not until you’re psycho famous that you are flying jet setting place to place, like your ass is driving a rental car.

M: You were driving-

J: You are driving a rental car, and I’ve only been on the road a little bit, like I’ve had one show that tours a little bit but people were like, “Oh my God, how was the tour? Was it amazing?” I was like, “Yes, I mean it was 14 hours of driving in 24 hours. It was fun with the show itself.”

M: Yes. When you get to the show, you’re like, “This is why I’m doing it,” but then in the meantime, you’re like, “OK, I drove in some of the comedy clubs on the road, I don’t know how they have hotel deals. They don’t have hotel deals at all because some of these places, I’m like, “You just found this yesterday.”

J: Yes, the hotel.

M: You just got — you don’t have a standing deal. One time I stayed at a place and pulled up, get there, and I’m checking in and I’m like, “Oh, do you guys have a gym on-site?”, and then they go, “No”, then I just go, “Oh, OK.” Then they go, “Wait, are you staying here?” And I went, “Yes.” “Oh, yes, we got a gym.” I’m like, “What the hell?” This is to mean people are just coming in off the streets trying to use your gym. Then the gym was so disgusting. It had like cigarette ashes. It had used condoms. It was-

J: Used condoms?

M: Dead serious. Yes, it was so bad. I was like, “That’s not fun,” but meanwhile-

J: I love the notion of f*cking in a public gym, but being like, “We’re still going to be safe.”

M: “We’re still going to-” but it’s like, “We’re still gross.”

J: We’re going to be gross, but we’re not catching anything while we do it.

M: We’ll just put it under the treadmill. I went in there and I was like, oh, it was so bad. This past fall, I was on Amy Schumer’s tour, so I got to go.

J: How amazing.

M: I was on that from August to December. It’s like, now, when you’re on the road like that, you’re like, “Oh, I don’t mind the road because it’s just-”

J: Like gorgeous hotels and flights.

M: Yes. You’re like, “Wait a minute, this is nice.”

J: I love a hotel.

M: Yes, but when you’re like, “Oh, great.” My philosophy has always been on the road, it was like, if you put me in a hotel that has a city name and a location, I know that hotel is going to be sh*t. If you say to someone like, this is the “North Atlanta” blah, blah, blah. You’re like, “This is trash.”

J: Yes.

M: This is East Cleveland. You’re like, “Gross.”

J: It has a region and then like Holiday Inn. Yes.

M: That’s how- I’m always like, “If that’s the name, no.”

J: It’s never going to be good.

M: Yes. Just give me a chain, which sometimes they won’t even do that. When you’re on the road for your — yes, when you’re hitting the road hard, it’s like, “Oh God, what am I doing?”

J: Are you much of a, are you a going-outer?

M: Am I a going-outer? You know what? Not as much anymore. I’m a going-out-to-eater person.

J: OK, great. We love. When you were coming up in Atlanta, was being out and going out and partying part of that scene, or were you really going to work?

M: As far as comedy was concerned? No, it was pretty much like, I’m working. I’m out here, I’m just doing spots and I’m doing shows, and, “How many shows do I have this week?” That was a lot of what was going on. Occasionally, I would slide in and be like, “All right, I’m in Atlanta. I should go to a club.”

J: Yes.

M: I went to some.

J: Is that something you generally — have you ever been someone who goes out much or is restaurants to clubs, most of you on the vibe?

M: You know what? I would probably say my college days. That’s where I really was. Because I went to a party school and all that.

J: Which school did you go to?

M: went to University of Georgia.

J: Is that UGA?

M: It is, yes. Good old. Yes, so that’s where I went. That was constant. It would just be, it’s a Monday night. You’re like, “Oh, Monday. We go to bars on Monday.” I did a lot of antique field nights in Athens. I just remember one night I ended up in the trunk of a car.

J: No, no, no.

M: That’s back when I was in the streets. In the streets, and that’s back when I couldn’t afford car insurance.

J: That was also like, you sort of branded, like, if you needed to like, it’s like, “The girl who gets in the trunk is fun. She’s the fun one.” It’s like, “Never be the girl that gets in the trunk.” You never need to be that fun. You actually never need to do that fun.

M: There’s no reason for it. I just remember just being like, “I’m in the back, I can sit.” I just remember my roommate at the time being like, “B*tch, get out of the trunk.”

J: Get out of the trunk.

M: “Why are you in the- what are you doing?” I’m just like, “Come see.” She’s like, “I’m not going to see if I also fit.”

J: Yes, no.

M: We’re both not going to get trapped in this trunk.

J: I’m envious of the people who have that self-respect innately in them at a young age because I would have gotten in the trunk. I was already too large of a person to get in the trunk, but I would have been like-

M: No, we would have all been in that trunk.

J: It was a Subaru Outback.

M: We would have been in that trunk. Yes, back then, yes, I used to be, in my early days of Atlanta and stand-up, there were times where I would still be like, because a lot of my college friends, we all lived there, we would be like, “Boom, let’s go to this place. Let’s go to this. that would happen a lot.”

J: Did you start stand-up when you were in college or later?

M: I started about two years after I left college.

J: OK.

M: Yes.

J: What was the draw?

M: What made me do stand-up?

J: Made you, because it is a forceful entry.

M: Yes. Here’s the thing, somebody can be like, “Oh, you’re funny. You should do it.” If you hear it, you’re like, “Maybe I am funny”, but that thing has got to already be in you to go, “I’m going to take that step.” I used to love stand-up, growing up I would watch some bunch of stand-up and I just, in my head, I didn’t know how they got to do that thing. I’m like, “How did that person do that?” I would even see stand-ups coming to my college, and I would go, “That’s the person I saw on TV, but how did this happen?” Then I remember going to a show on campus, and I think I had graduated by then, because I was still just floating around and not really knowing what I was — I was doing too much and nothing, all at the same time. I remember meeting this stand-up comic, and his manager was at the show and then the manager was like, “Oh, well, if you’re interested in doing stand-up, you have to go to open mics.” I was like, “What? What is — I don’t know what that is even?” He was like, “Yes, you just got to start getting on stage.” I’m like, “What?” He was like, “Stop saying what. You got to get on stage.”

J: He’s like, “I’m giving you the answers. There’s no more questions to ask.”

M: I kept going like, “What do you mean?” “You just have to keep — it means you need to be writing, and you just get on stage.”

J: It was shocking to you, the notion that the answer is that you actually just start doing it badly and then get better?

M: Yes.

J: That is a shocking system, sort of.

M: I was like, “I have to go do it first.” That was very much how it came up, and I’m like, “OK.” Then maybe about a year, it took me about a year after that point to then go, “OK, I think I’m going to try it.” Then I started going to open mics and smokey bars. That’s how it all started.

J: That’s amazing. How much do you feel coming up in Atlanta influenced your comedic voice? Because I guess if you’re from Georgia, it’s also probably-

M: You know what, I don’t know if it influenced my voice so much as it did influence my work ethic around comedy.

J: Totally. That’s actually a good way to put it.

M: I saw the scene just grow from like, “Oh, well, the comedy clubs have an open mic once or twice a week” to, “Oh, this one person runs a bar show outside of the city on a Tuesday.” Then you’re like, “OK, I can do comedy Tuesday and I can do it on this Wednesday”, but then it just started growing because so many people were like, “I want to be good at this.” Then all of a sudden it’s like, “Oh, now there’s a Monday night. Now there’s two places on Wednesday. Now it’s now placed on Thursday.” It was just so many. All these people started just making that scene grow, and it was like boom, now I’m ready to just try, basically, because I got so many places I can now go and perform.

J: Totally. That’s so interesting. Something that I think happens in New York is, I don’t know if this is how it is in Atlanta at all, but I feel in New York there are very different pockets of stand-up, it is pretty intense. What I think is cool about the Comedy Cellar specifically is I actually think that they pull from all of the worlds a little bit. You can have like Liza and someone — you can have different people that come up with different scenes that speak to different audiences. Whereas I think if you go somewhere like, I don’t know, The Stand, or New York Comedy Club, I think that’s someone who — she kills it every time they do Union Hall — could bomb there, and vice versa. Someone who crushes at New York Comedy Club could fully bomb at Union Hall — I think when you are coming up, picking the mics and the shows that match your voice, is like a game to play, but then also learning to match your voice to those different scenes to figure out where you fit. That’s what I was asking about Atlanta.

M: Yes. Everything has that. I think everything has the, “Hey, here are the people that do “alts” comedy here, the people that do “urban comedy.” Atlanta definitely had that kind of thing, but there were also, because the clubs there are not, for the most part, they’re not showcase clubs, or at least when I was starting, they weren’t like, “Oh, yes, there’s a Comedy Cellar style club” or, “There’s a New York comedy club where somebody’s doing, ‘Well, we got five, six people on the line.’

J: Everyone’s doing 15.

M: Yes. There were a lot of bar shows here. Then there’s the headliner clubs, and you have to hope that that club was going to put you on as a host and then you got to — there were also, it was a lot of crossing of the worlds too. You would see like, “Oh, well, I know this person is known in the ‘urban scene’, but they also come and work at The Punchline”, which is a mainstream club there. You would see a lot of cross pollination-

J: Well, I think that’s healthy because I think that’s a thing New York needs to be doing more of. Because I think that people are starting, especially with Brooklyn, I feel sometimes your comedy needs to speak to people outside of the community to an extent. You know what I mean?

M: Because it’s almost a separate scene basically. Yes.

J: Yes. It’s like, there’s something beautiful about small com— obviously, there’s something very beautiful about small communities and subcultures, but then it is, if you are trying to make comedy that speaks to a larger amount of people, It’s like how do you then take this thing that is true of the subculture and then speak about it in a way that can relate to everyone? Because that’s actually when it gets powerful.

M: Yes. I think that was something as far as Atlanta was concerned for me, where I was like, “Oh, I am a black woman in the South, but I’m also having these very universal experiences that other people are having all over the world.” I’m like, “OK, how do I make my very specific life reach out to different people?” I do think being able to jump around the different rooms in Atlanta was very helpful for that kind of thing. Yes.

J: Yes. That seems like that is probably one of the advantages of coming, I don’t want to say smaller city, because Atlanta’s f*cking huge. Maybe not as, not as-

M: I know what you mean.

J: -every other person isn’t trying to do comedy like this God-forsaken city. Yes. That makes total sense. That’s super interesting. How did you find coming to New York?

M: Well, coming here-

J: Well obviously there’s — pandemic aside.

M: Because I would periodically pop in, I would come and make little trips here and there. People knew me but it was very much like, one of the things that was really fascinating to me is that I just went, the people that started in New York, I’m always like, “You started here?”

J: Yes. If someone were to tell me they wanted to get into it now, I would be like, “Go to Chicago first, go to Atlanta first.”

M: Yes.

J: It’s so hard.

M: Yes. When I meet people that I’m like, “Oh, you start —” I’m like, “How was that for —” Because anybody that I find out that started, I’m like, “How was it? What did you do?”

J: Yes.

M: How was it coming up in the scene? Because, again, coming from a say place like Atlanta, you’re like, “All right, well, if I’m doing open mics at this one club and then now they’ve seen me so much that they go, “Oh, we think Mia can host”, or, “Bow we think Mia can feature, or, “Bow we think, yes, she could come do this thing. If we have a corporate gig we can throw her on”, because they see you do that thing at this one place where I’m like, here it’s so many open mics and so I’m like, how does that perception change for these clubs that didn’t see you do that thing? Didn’t see you at all the 10,000 open mics that are all over the city. I’m always just like-

J: Yes. It is wild to do. Yes. I think it’s impressive to come up anyway, but I think that doing it in a smaller city is just practically such a smarter way to go about it.

M: Yes. Someone with a dedicated scene where you’re like, “Oh.” Because I have seen people over the years that I knew in Atlanta or I knew from other scenes that were like, “Oh, my next step, I’m going to New York.” Then they would go and then a year later, six months later, sometimes they’re like, “Oh, OK. Well, I’m back.”

J: Well, it’s f*cking hard to go from being a big fish in a small pond to being a medium fish in the ocean. That’s like a hard transition.

M: Yes. Coming here, it was just really doing all those spots in Atlanta, but this is on a thousand. This is on steroids, this is-

J: 100 percent.

M: Like oh, OK, because sometimes I would look at my calendar and be like, “Oh, I did three spots on a Tuesday”, or, “I did four on a Saturday” or, “Five on a Fri—” That thing where I’m just constantly moving, moving, moving but the spots it’s, “OK, 10 minutes here, 15 minutes here” versus when I was in Atlanta it might be, “Well, I’m going to work the road from here, but I’m going to go this weekend and go middle somewhere the whole time. I’m going to headline.” It’s how you work on the sets is a little bit different to me because you’re like, “Oh, I’m doing this in a 15-minute chunk” then it’s like, “Oh, I got 30 minutes to-”

J: To play around and see — yes, totally. Yes. It’s much more regimented here in that way.

M: Yes. Which is very helpful for me though.

J: That’s great. When you go out to do a spot, now in New York, are you grabbing a drink after? Are you hanging out or are you in and out?

M: It depends on where I am. Now I’m at The Cellar because I — that’s the one place, I will always see somebody I’m friendly with in comedy and we’ll be, “Oh, are you about to leave?” “I was about to eat.” “Well, let’s stay.” It’s been so many nights where I promised myself that I was going to — I only got one spot tonight, at 8:30 p.m. I’m going to leave because I’m going to go and be a responsible adult and go to sleep. Then I’ll be, “Well, it’s 2:45, and I’m at home. How did I end up here?”

J: That’s the best.

M: It happens all the time. I lie to myself so much.

J: Also better to do that now when you’re performing at the cellar than people do that when they’re like coming up. I think that’s where you really shoot yourself in the foot is if you’re just starting out and you’re hanging, obviously make friends and socialize, but if you’re going out and doing one spot and staying out till 3 a.m. it’s like, hey babe. That’s not really the-

M: You go home. Listen to the set you just worked on and rest. You can have fun. I’m not saying that you can’t, but it’s-

J: Yes, totally.

M: Yes, but I have seen people sometimes where you’re here all the time and you don’t, are you a cop? That happens too-

J: Those people.

M: -or you’ll see people where you like, “Oh, I don’t know if you necessarily, you don’t work at this club.” I have seen that before where a person’s always here eating or this person always here hanging out. What are you?

J: Yes.

M: What’s happening? I do see that where you should at least go to work. Go do some shows and then because you don’t — and again, that’s also something you can see in every scene where you’re like, “This person’s always here, but I never see them do stand-up.” I know people like that all over. I remember knowing someone in Atlanta where there were arguments amongst my group of friends about whether or not this one person actually did stand-up because you would always just see them.

J: It goes back to what we were talking about when you were first saying how you get into it where it’s like I think there are people that are like, “I don’t want to do the miserable open mics and be bad and go through that whole process. I’m confident that if I one day get handed the magical opportunity, I will rise to that occasion.”

M: Yes.

J: It won’t happen.

M: You’re not going to hang your way.

J: You’re not going to hang your way to the top 100 percent.

M: Yes. You may be cool with a lot of people. I would see people sometimes where I’m like, “Oh, you do stand-up? Oh, I didn’t know that.” You’re always here. I never seen you on any lineups. Again, that happens in every scene. I do think that people are — this is probably one of my favorite stories of all time. When I was still in Atlanta, I remember this guy walks into the comedy club with me and he’s talking to me in some comics and he’s like, “I’m ready.” Then we were like, “To do what?” He was like, “Well, to do stand-up there because I’m just ready to make money.” He’s like, “I’m already a singer, if I can sing in front of 300 people, I know I got this.” Then we were like, “You should probably get on stage.” When we started talking about some of the details of stand-up, he was like, “Oh, OK then.” Then he just walked out. I’ve also had people message me over the years too, where I’ve gotten people going, “Wait, I see what you’re doing, how can I do what you’re doing?” Then I go, “Oh, well these are the things that I did. Then they’re like, “Thank you for telling me.” Then I never hear from them.

J: 100 percent. What’s the number one example of a job that looks too easy? It’s number one. It’s like, “Oh, they’re just hanging out on stage.” You know what I mean?

M: Just having a good time.

J: I feel like, especially in the early 2000s, the comedy that was really popular, it did seem like these men that were truly going to bars all over the country and getting drunk and walking up on stage and hanging. I do think that’s not to say that they didn’t have skills and weren’t working hard, but the brand was-

M: It’s casual.

J: It’s casual. They’re making millions of dollars.

M: All right. While you have a whole Sitcom. I have definitely seen it again but I’ve seen it here a lot where I’m — it’s some people where I’m like, “I did not know they did.” It’s that thing where people quietly are all like, “Oh, I thought —” they’re just here. What’s happening?

J: It’s interesting.

M: It’s like, “No, you still got to get on stage. Even if you’re hanging and you’re cool with people. It’s like you still got to work on my skill set.

J: I guess unless you do just like hanging out with everyone, then God bless but if you do one day want to get on stage, you have to start.

M: Yes you got to, you got to get on the stage.

J: OK. Wait, I want to go back because you mentioned you’re more of a restaurant person you said. Let’s talk restaurants. You live in Harlem?

M: I do live in Harlem, yes.

J: Some of the best restaurants in New York City are in Harlem.

M: Yes.

J: Do we have any faves? Have you built some relationships?

M: OK, there are two places that I love so much. I love Melba’s.

J: Melba’s, OK.

M: Yes. Oh, every time in my heart when I go, you know what, this time when I’m in the city for a few weeks before I go traipsing off again, I’m like I’m going to eat healthy and then I’ll be like, “Oh man, you know what, I would love some mac and cheese from Melba’s.” Then I get caught up very quickly and fall apart. I love Melba’s and then let me see. Then I’m going to get the — because they have chicken and waffles but they have a, what is it? It’s a waffle with a, I can’t remember if it’s a butter pecan waffle, whatever it is.

J: Oh f*ck.

M: There’s a, what is it? It’s like a strawberry cream cheese spread that goes with it.

J: Oh my God.

M: It’s so good and I’m like yes — I will go there and just lose the line and who knows. Maybe I will be ordered from there today.

J: Yes, why not?

M: Yes, it’s a problem but then there was another place. Boulevard Bistro, I do enjoy that as well.

J: Oh, I know that one. Is that on Marcus Garvey? No, no, that — Bronx Boulevard.

M: It was at 116th and, I don’t know.

J: Because it’s on a boulevard, right? Isn’t that the whole thing?

M: I think so. It was just so mad because I’m always like I just get in cars and I’m like this is the place. I know it was 114th.

J: It’s a teen and it’s a boulevard?

M: Nonetheless, they have very delicious biscuits and their food is-

J: We’re going for Southern comfort food when we’re going out.

M: This is true. Yes.

J: I respect that.

M: Then there’s — does a coffee shop count? Does it count as a place that I love?

J: Yes, wherever you love to go.

M: There’s one literally right down the hill for me in NBHD. Again, solid, OK.

J: This is Southern comfort food in a coffee shop?

M: No, no, it’s just like they have, what is it? They have a chicken sausage biscuit that I love. They have — what is it? Some po’boys on the menu.

J: Oh. Is it still Southern?

M: Yes, but then there’s also salmon and bagels and stuff like that.

J: They bring it all to the table?

M: Yes, yes. I will go in there and I’ll be like, “Hi, I’m back.” “Again.”

J: It’s such a sacred relationship between you and the coffee shop that knows you. You know what I mean?

M: Yes.

J: That’s really important to have. Mine, it’s not a chicken and waffle, it’s a chorizo breakfast burrito. That’s become my-

M: Where?

J: It’s in Brooklyn. I live in Bed-Stuy.

M: Look, I would go somewhere for it.

J: Cafe Calaca I’ll send you the information. It is so f*cking good.

M: Listen, I’m sold already.

J: It’s so good and it’s such like a, “I’m kind of hung over.” You know what I mean?

M: Oh, I just thought about another place that-

J: Where?

M: -I wanna keep going. I’m like, it’s all restaurants. I do order — I haven’t been there but I do order quite a bit from a place called Bus Stop Diner. Because I do love breakfast food. If I have a choice of what I’m going to eat breakfast food, always but I’ve ordered from there so much that I know that they’re just like it’s her.

J: They see the ticket, they’re like we know it’s happening.

M: They’re like, “We’re taking bacon and eggs and coffee to this person who will not stop ordering from-”

J: Do you love ordering in?

M: I do.

J: I’m sensing.

M: Now I will say I do actually go to Melba’s though. I’ll go to Boulevard Bistro. I will go there and actually sit around which also Boulevard Bistro has good sangria.

J: We love that.

M: I had a few afternoons where I was like, “Ooh I got shows tonite. This was probably not the best idea.”

J: God bless a nap.

M: I need to get some electrolytes because I’m going to be laid the hell out but that’s the thing. The reason why I order in so much here is because there are so much-

J: It’s a lot.

M: -happening and I always have to mentally prepare myself because I’m in and out a lot. I’ll be here for a few weeks, and I’ll go back to Georgia, I’ll go on the road.

J: Right, if you’ve been on the road or touring intermittently the entire time you’ve lived here, you probably haven’t built up that tolerance of the inundation of sensory overload that’s constantly happening.

M: Yes, but I had a little — so in 2019, though, because I pretty much was mostly here then, that’s when I started being maybe four months straight sometimes I’m like, “Oh,” I might have gone on for like, one or two weekends, but I would be like, “This place is exhausting.”

J: Yes, it’s a lot.

M: Everything. It would just be even when I go, “Oh, I have a spot tonight at 8 p.m. I should start preparing it for — just stuff like that, just to mentally be like, that would be like, let me get ready to get on the train and then I got to be out of the house by this time so that I’m not running late.

J: That is the hardest part about moving here. Even just not being like, “OK, I’m just gonna jump in my car or walk.” That part of it is hard. Then you get used to it.

M: Yes. That’s why sometimes I’m like, “Let me just —” I just want to go in my room and close the door and-

J: Totally.

M: -just eat this pork chop.

J: Absolutely.

M: I had to go down and I’m like, go downstairs. I’m like, it’s so much.

J: Do you feel like in terms of restaurants and bars New York versus Atlanta, what is the energy? What is the vibe difference?

M: Oh, you know what? The time that I have, I’m comparing this to some years ago going out in Atlanta, but I do feel like there are places in Atlanta, certain places, not everywhere. There are places where people are like, “I’m here to be seen.”

J: Sure.

M: That does exist here. I just feel like the places that I go to is just people like, “I’m just here to eat. I’m just here.” Whereas sometimes it’s like, it’s an event in Atlanta, and you’re like, “Is it though? Calm down. Just relax.”

J: That also comes from — in New York, the places that are the places to be seen are so ridiculous. It’s like Ariana Grande is going there to be seen. It’s like psycho. It’s like, in a city that has a more insular community where it’s like, they’re trying to be seen by the people of Atlanta. They’re not trying to see, that’s where — it can feel a little more intense. Because I’m originally from Rhode Island, this sort of restaurant in Providence, where people are going to get seen in Providence. It’s like, are you getting seen in Providence and no shade to Providence, but like, do you know what I mean? There’s a little bit of a — I don’t want to say delusion, but delusion.

M: Yes. I don’t want to say who this person is. This is a person that I know, but I just remember them one time telling me about places in Atlanta where they were like, “I’m just going to go eat at this other place, because I can’t be seen or something.” I’m like, “Who is going to see you in the —” That’s how much it’s in someone’s head to be like-

J: It’s wild.

M: I’m going to be, I can let my hair down if I go to this place. Then you’re like, “What?”

J: Oh, they were saying, like, I want to go to this place where I could be more casual, because I won’t be seen.

M: Yes, but the default was very much like, “If I go to these other places I’m going to be seen.” It’s like, “Stop. You’re eating chicken wings-

J: That is a healthy reminder. You’re eating chicken wings.

M: -settle down.” I don’t know how it is in Atlanta now, but I do just remember that being a thing where it’s like, “Oh, we’re going to be —” and it’s like, “Meh” This is meh.

J: Totally.

M: Here, because there’s so much going on, so much happening that nobody is really paying attention to you like that in a regular restaurant. Like you said, the list is someplace where you’re there to be seen.

J: You’re legitimately famous.

M: Right.

J: That’s the other thing.

M: Yes, but if you’re just a regular ass person, it’s fine.

J: That is the thing that makes living in New York easier, though, is that when you realize, yes, there’s a million things happening and a million people, not a single one of them matters to you, or you matter to them do you know what I mean?

M: Yes.

J: That is where it’s like that’s what you have to learn is like oh, I don’t have to do with every person I’ve had — obviously, treat people with respect and kindness and don’t elbow-chuck people’s as you walk on the street, but it’s like this isn’t — it’s a different barometer of interaction with everything.

M: Yes. I would say, if I haven’t done spots at The Cellar and I’m walking around in that area, and I’ve had a few spots for the night, I will see people that have just seen me, and they’ll be like, “Oh my God, they’ll stop.”

J: Totally.

M: That stuff happens. Then I know that the moment that I go to the coffee shop, then like nobody in there knows — they don’t know that I was — it’s just a different thing because it’s like they don’t care either.

J: They don’t need to.

M: Yes. When you’re right in that area, you’re going — people like, oh my God, I just-

J: You’re a celebrity in the West Village, in central West village.

M: Otherwise you’re like, nobody cares.

J: What did you feel you had to — do you feel a striking difference between audiences, in New York versus on the road versus in Atlanta? Do you change your comedy to them?

M: Oh my God, yes.

J: I’m so interested in this.

M: Oh yes. For the most part, not too many adjustments, but there are certain things where I have to go, “Oh, I need to change this reference word or this joke where it might have two parts. Maybe I don’t do the second part of the joke because it doesn’t make sense to —” for example, one of the things I used to notice is when I lived in Atlanta and I would see the feature act that came from either L.A. or New York, sometimes I would go, man, that person did a lot of jokes about L.A. traffic and a lot of jokes about this thing in L.A. and that thing and I’m like-

J: No one gives a f*ck about that.

M: Nobody cares in Atlanta. That’s how I started learning to go, “Oh, OK, don’t be so, so, so specific.” There are certain times where you have to be, but I’m like, OK. That’s when I first started really being like, I got to make sure that when I make the choice of am I going to New York? Am I going to L.A. to make sure that when I come back to these places, if I do talk about those things, how can I make that thing more universal? I would see New York comics come down and I would go, “Ah, man, they did 15 minutes on the subway.” I’m like, “But nobody here-

J: Has been on a — takes it.

M: -takes the train.” I’m like, everybody drives here. I have to keep that in mind when I’m in other cities to where I go. Because I have a joke that I do about, saying that I look like I work for the MTA. When I’m here I can say MTA because people know what I mean. I’m like, when I go to other places, I either have to not say MTA at all, or I just go, “Oh, I work for the train” and then I go, “Let me think about it, well if I do that joke in Chicago, people get on the train here. If I do that joke —” God, what city was I in? It was, I forget where I was, but I remember going, this place has public transit, and people actively use it.” I know I can say that here. If I do that joke in Atlanta, I’m like, well people, there is a train system, but most people take it to go to the airport. That’s not really-

J: You’re talking about BART or something?

M: No, there is oh.

J: BART, San Francisco?

M: No, it’s MARTA.


M: Yes.

J: I knew it was a name.

M: Yes. It had ART in it.

J: I was close.

M: You were very close. There are things where I’m like — and there are certain, sometimes when I’ve been here for a while, then I’ll go back and do a set in Atlanta where I’ll be like, “Oh, OK. Everybody’s a lot more liberal obviously here.” Versus certain, and even in Atlanta, but it’s certain pockets of Atlanta where I’m like, “Oh, this is a theory.”

J: You’ll change things for pockets of the city.

M: Because you go to some parts and you’re like, “Oh, this is fairly about the same audience.” Then you’re like, “Oh, but now I’m in the suburbs and, this sh*t is not going to fly in the suburbs.” It’s certain things where I have to go, “What are some things that are more general that everybody in this room could probably relate to?” Then sometimes there are jokes that are very specific where you have to go, “You know what? F*ck it. I’m just going to bring them into my world. I’m just going to have to say, this is a specific thing that I’m going through, but there is a part of this thing that you can also relate to.” I also can’t spend 20 minutes going, “Well this is what happened when I was on the train today.”

J: Totally.

M: I can’t. It was a really important thing for me to see that very early, because I would host a lot at The Punchline in Atlanta. I would just go, “Oh, OK, now I see the difference. I go, “The LA and New York comics that are the middle acts, they’re still talking about those things in that city.” I’m like, “The headliner who might also either live in one of those places has a wider range of material.” I’m like, “Oh, I need to be doing what they’re doing.” That’s not to say that, and the people that were the middle acts, they were great comics and they were a lot of funny, funny people, but I was like, “Oh, they might be hampering themselves by only talking about this thing or only staying on this topic.” It just made me go, well when I get to these places, I need to be trying to do my stuff.

J: When you’re making those modifications to the shows you’re doing, is that happening on stage, or do you sit down before and be like, “OK, what am I gonna change?”

M: A little bit of both, because sometimes before I go to a place, I’ll be like, “Oh, all right, this is a smaller town, or maybe this isn’t going to work,” but there are certain jokes where I go, “I’m just going to have to bring them into this world and it will fine.”

J: Yes, totally.

M: Yes, but I can’t be so stuck on that thing. Well, that’s the only thing that I talk about, so.

J: Totally. Have you noticed a difference in audiences, because I don’t do the road that much. I pretty much just perform in Brooklyn and occasionally go other places. I’m always wondering because I feel like I see so much on TikTok now. I don’t know how much TikTok you-

M: I look on there, I’m not an active participant, I just go for the gossip.

J: That’s OK, I think, but the gossip on TikTok.

M: Some of it’s so wrong but so good.

J: I live for it. Oh my God.

M: I love mess so much.

J: I mean, it’s the joy of life. It’s heaven.

M: I love mess, yes.

J: I feel like I see a lot of crowd work on TikTok, and I fear that it is making people think they’re supposed to go to comedy shows and talk to the stage. Do you feel like as someone who’s doing the road that that’s happening more?

M: On one hand, I’m like, from the comic’s perspective, I understand why they’re posting the crowd work jokes because-

J: It’s getting old. Can I say that?

M: See, that’s the thing, luckily I’m so focused on gossip that I never see a whole lot of it, but if you’re seeing it like that, then it — I do know it’s been a topic that people are like, “Oh my God, everybody has a crowd work,” kind of thing.

J: Yes.

M: A person who’s working the road, it’s like, “Oh, there was this thing that happened in this moment in time and I’m going to share this because this will most likely not ever happen again,” but they’re doing that because, well, if I’m working on a five-minute set, or if I’m working on a new joke or if I’m working on a half hour-

J: Right, they can’t show that sh*t.

M: -then I don’t want to share that right now because this joke isn’t ready for a potential special or potential late-night spot.

J: That’s so true.

M: That’s because they know, yes, I can burn through this crowd work because yes, you’ll still get to see me being funny, but I’m not giving away a lot of material, but then from the audience perspective, I do sometimes feel that people feel like, where they’re like, “Well yes, that’s why I’m helping,” they’re so many-

J: Yes, people have said that like, “I’m helping,” well I’m so f*cking stupid that it’s never occurred to me that that’s why people post crowd work, it’s not burning their material, but that’s so obvious.

M: Yes, but it’s like-

J: Damn, that’s so obvious. I’ve always just been like just the first part of what you said, “Oh, it feels exciting because it’s spontaneous, you can’t plan for it, and it showcases a certain level of wit and improv,” but it’s also yes, it doesn’t burn a f*cking joke.

M: Yes, because if I’m working on a new, if I’m like, boom, I got to do this-

J: Totally.

M: -I’m trying to get a 5-minute set in the middle of this 30 minutes, or I’m trying to just work on a new half-hour in general. It’s like well, this joke is not ready to be seen yet, so maybe let me just — yes, if you just see this little bullsh*t that I’m doing and yelling at somebody or having something that actually came to be a fun moment, then yes I can share that and I still get to put out content. You still know I do stand-up, but you only saw this little sliver of the show. That’s why, but then like you said, it’s so many people who come to shows that are like, “Well, I’m just here to have a great time.”

J: It’s like don’t speak until you’re spoken to.

M: Yes.

J: Please for the love of God.

M: Yes. Well, was it, somebody, they said, they saw me do this one night, they said they had never seen anybody quiet someone this way, but it was somebody talking one night, and I said, “Listen to me,” I said, “Do you see how your volume is all the way up here?” I said, “I just need you just to bring it down right here,” and I said, “Then I can continue, but you’re just here,” Then they were like, “Oh.” I went, “Are we good?” Then I just went right back to-

J: Incredible.

M: -so I just respond and be like, “You didn’t yell at them, you just told them just to be quiet.” Just to bring it down a notch.

J: Very like a second-grade teacher.

M: I used to be a corporate trainer.

J: Oh, there you go.

M: Yes, so I’d be like, all right, listen I’m not going to do this with any of you right now, but I’m going to keep talking so yes.

J: 100 percent. As someone who’s done a good amount of clubs all over and whatever, what are the things that a great comedy club does that maybe a club doesn’t do? What are the things you really want to see?

M: A great club is going to actually take care of their comics. It’s not just that we’re just putting butts in seats because I’ve been to those clubs. Sh*tty clubs will be like, it doesn’t matter who is on this calendar this week we don’t care if it’s you, we don’t care at all. We just come here every weekend because we know that we are going to sell a certain amount of chicken wings and fries and that’s what we’re here for. We’re not going to police the room, we’re not going to do any of that stuff. I know I mentioned The Cellar a lot, but The Cellar really is truly a gold standard of comedy.

J: I was going to say it’s kind of like the gold standard of like what a club should be doing?

M: I’ve never been there where I’ve been like, “Oh God, something —” because I had an incident last April, I can’t believe it’s been that long now. Last year in a club on the road where I am performing, I am not doing crowd work which even and it doesn’t matter if I was or wasn’t but someone unprovoked, walked on stage while I was performing and it took a while for the club to get the person-

J: That’s a safety issue.

M: -off the stage. The person just out of nowhere because-

J: Were they trying to talk on the mic?

M: I don’t know if he came to attack me. It was like, this is what it-

J: That must have been so scary. I’m so sorry.

M: This is how crazy — and this is the thing, in the moment, I wasn’t even scared because I was so confused.

J: I’ve been there but you’re like, “I, don’t”

M: Where you’re like, “I don’t even know what’s happening.” The way the club was set up, the way he was walking, I actually assumed, I went, “Oh, OK, this person is late and they must be trying to get to this table”. It was so much so that I thought they were trying to get the table, the people that were already there, there were two other seats. They were pushing the menu so they thought so too. Person comes up on stage and then he’s just like, “B*tch, you not funny. You not funny.” He was like, “I’m the one that’s funny, people should be paying to see me. People should pay to see me.” Then I was like, “What is happening right now?” I was like, “Y’all, what is going on right now?” Then he was like, “No, people pay.” Eventually someone from the club-

J: This is like a bruised, ego male comic. This is so scary.

M: He was just some man in the audience with his family.

J: Not with his family.

M: With his family. Finally, somebody comes up and the guy was like, “Sir, you can’t be up here. You got to go.” Then he goes, “Well she was talking about if people were married and I was coming to tell her that I was married. That’s why I’m up here. I should be on stage. I should be doing this.”

J: That’s one of the craziest things I’ve ever heard and I feel so bad for you that happened to you. I feel so bad for his kids. Imagine watching your father do that. That is the most humiliating I’ve ever heard in my f*cking life.

M: He went back to his seat because he thought he was just going to get to stay and watch the rest of the show.

J: No sir. You’re removed from the club, 100 percent.

M: You’ve got to go. That’s what I say — a club that will take care of you, that is they police the room, they make sure that if somebody is out of pocket, they’re going to get that person out of there because I’ve been in, again, so many clubs where they’re like-

J: You have to feel safe. You have to feel safe to be able to be funny.

M: Some clubs they won’t even have — they’ll just try to ask somebody on the wait staff to go. Can you go get that person?

J: F*ck off. No.

M: You’re like, “No.” It’s like one, get your people good accommodations, get them somewhere where no one is suspicious of you checking in and asking them out the gym, get a place like that where — so just a good place to stay, make sure that if there’s transportation to and from the club, make sure that’s happening but again, police the room. Also another thing, like let the comics, if they’re on the road and somebody’s headlining at your club, let them eat and drink. Please for the love of God.

J: Do some places not?

M: They’ll do it, but I’ve seen places now that’ll be like, “Oh, well I have to charge you for the food.”

J: Maybe some chicken tenders. Let me have the chicken tenders.

M: There was a club I played one time and I ordered a Red Bull on like a Wednesday night and then they didn’t charge me and I was like, “Oh, they must’ve changed their policy like OK.” The very next day this waitress comes to me, she’s almost tearing up and she’s like, I got in trouble because I gave you that Red Bull last night and I was like, “What.”

J: F*ck the owners of that club, f*ck that.

M: She was like, “So I know you had one tonight, so I have to charge you for two.” She was like that and she had just started working there. She’s like, “I thought the comics got to eat and drink for free.” She was like, “I didn’t know when I got in trouble.” I was like, “What?” I was like, “Yes, yes, of course.”

J: It’s not her fault.

M: Yes, I’m like, “Yes, yes. I’ll obviously pay for it,” but I’m like, “There are clubs.”

J: That’s ass.

M: I’m like, at least, or give them a deep discount, but it’s some places that are just like-

J: I think that I would — I know we have to wrap up, but I will just say this. I would hear an argument about alcohol.

M: That’s fair.

J: You need to give them f*cking dinner.

M: Give somebody a burger. Like just-

J: It’s “You need a burger.” That’s so asinine.

M: Then pay your people well.

J: Pay the people well.

M: Pay your people well, but those are the-

J: It’s simple.

M: Those are the main things. Just act like you care about the show. That’s all. That’s it.

J: It doesn’t sound that hard.

M: That’s it.

J: This has been so, so lovely. Thank you so much for doing the show.

M: Thank you for having me.

J: As a little activity at the end of every episode, we plan a night out together that we might enjoy. I would love to go to one of these places in Harlem because I’ve been to both, but it’s been years since I lived uptown. I don’t think I can handle doing either of those during the day digestively. I think I have to eat them when the sun’s down. Which one do you think is better for a dinner?

M: For dinner, you know what, let me see. I’m basing this off the sangrias alone, Boulevard Bistro dinner.

J: We’ll go to Boulevard Bistro for a little bit of dinner?

M: Yes. Some sangrias.

J: For some sangria. Then maybe I’ll take you — maybe then how about this? You’ll probably have a spot that night. We’ll go down and I’ll take you to my favorite gay bar Julius’ in the West Village and we’ll have a couple of drinks.

M: Heard about Julius’.

J: Yes. Have you ever been?

M: No.

J: Perfect. We’ll take the train down, we’ll go to Julius’, we’ll have a couple of drinks and then I’ll send you on your way to the — I’ll come watch you at The Cellar.

M: Perfect.

J: Perfect.

M: We’ll get wine at The Cellar.

J: There we go. Easy

M: Or their wings. Their wings are the best.

J: Yes. I’ll probably get hungry again so I’ll do both. This was perfect. Thank you so much.

M: Oh, thank you. Thanks.

Thank you so much for listening to “Going Out With Jake Cornell.” If you could please go and review us on whatever you’re listening to this on, that would be really gorgeous for me in a huge way, so thank you.

Now, for some credits. “Going Out With Jake Cornell” is recorded in New York City and produced by Keith Beavers and Katie Brown. The music you’re hearing is by Darby Cicci. The cover art you’re probably looking at was photographed by M Cooper and designed by Danielle Grinberg. A special shoutout to VinePair co-founders, Josh Malin and Adam Teeter for making all of this possible.