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Last Comic Standing: An Interview with Dave Mordalby Dale Sherman -- 08/12/2003
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As Jay Mohr has mentioned when promoting Last Comic Standing, one of the true benefits of the series is giving America a chance to be introduced to funny comedians they might never have gotten a chance to see otherwise. To find the perfect example of this idea, one needs look no further than that of Dave Mordal. Mordal, a resident of Elk River, Minnesota, almost didn’t even bother trying out for the series, but in the end he became one of the true breakaway stars of the show.
Consistently funny, both in the house and on stage, Dave was serious about his comedy and his moments with Rich Vos were some of the funniest in the series. When the taping was finished of the final episode, many of the five remaining comics gestured for him to join them on stage, and the applause from the audience was deafening as he was given a standing ovation. There’s no doubt about it, Dat Phan may have won the competition, but Dave Mordal won a legion of fans throughout the country.
While visiting Las Vegas to see the final episode, my wife Jill and I had a chance to sit down with Dave Mordal on Sunday, August 4, at the open-air bar at the Paris Hotel and Casino. He talked about a variety of topics, including why he almost passed on the show, his strategy when going head-to-head with Dat Phan, and why he hopes we never get a chance to see any more of “The Dave and Rich Show.”
Dave: So what would you like to know about the show?
RealityNewsOnline: One thing I’ve found so far in talking to the comics is that a lot of people were reluctant to do the show.
Dave: I was REAL reluctant to do the show. REALLY reluctant. The owner of the club that I usually go to in Minneapolis called me like three or four times going, “You should go and try out for this.” Three or four times I said, “No, I shouldn’t. This isn’t anything I want anything to do with.” And finally he convinced me, he said “Look, this is kind of seat-of-the-pants comedy, which is what you do when you’re down here horsing around. You should really go and try out.”
So I drove all the way to Chicago from Minneapolis. It was 30 degrees outside and they made us wait in line for like four hours. And three times down there I almost left and went home. Finally I got in, I was one of the last people to get in for the auditions and they picked me for a second audition, which I was astounded by considering you’re just doing comedy for two people from the Tonight Show. It’s not an audience or anything, So they brought me back for a second audition and they picked me out of a hundred and some comics, which I couldn’t believe and still I was a little reluctant.
Then they wanted to do a criminal background check on me and I went, well, that’s it. That’s going to take care of it, I’m not going to have to do this show. And I still made it through the criminal background check even though I have a HORRIBLE past, which was really funny to me. They actually had to call the Sherman County Jail where I lived, and my brother was working because he’s the Sherman County jailer. He’s the one that sent the mugshot, which I didn’t know anything about until that Tuesday night. It was hilarious to me. That’s a long way in my past, but it was still very hilarious. So, yeah, I really didn’t want to do the show and then as I got further into it I went, “well, maybe this isn’t such a bad thing.”
RNO: When you went to the New York show [Episode Two], I heard it was five-six hours long.
Dave: That thing DID take a while. We were at Caroline’s from like 9 in the morning to 2 am – that’s not how long it took, but there was a lot of sitting around waiting, which will make you crazy. I thought, “I’m up against a lot of NY comics; this is going to be tough, really tough.” And they picked me out of there. I couldn’t believe that either, because you didn’t see anyone perform, so you didn’t know what you were up against. So I made it there. I made it to Vegas [Episode Three], up against however many here, 25 maybe? And I had a feeling once I got out there, I felt very comfortable on that stage. Phyllis Diller seemed to like me. I thought, you know, I might have made this. And then I made it. It was amazing.
RNO: Had you seen any of the other comics?
Dave: None. Not a one of them Every time someone performed, we were either outside in 30 degree weather, or you were backstage at Caroline’s. So you didn’t see anybody. The closest I came to seeing someone was here, and you still couldn’t see anybody but you could hear the audience. And that’s as close as you came. Made it kinda difficult in the house as to who’s funnier than who, because you haven’t seen anybody. Ralphie had seen a few people. Rich knew Cory. But I’d seen NOBODY work.
RNO: How you got into comedy?.
Dave: I was 34. I was divorced. I was running heavy equipment for a scrapyard – you know, the big cranes with the big magnet for picking up metal and cars? That’s what I did. And I had nothing to do at night, in Minneapolis there was this small little weird college thing – it’s not really a college, it’s night classes. There was one down there for ice-climbing. I wanted to rock-climb but I also wanted to ice-climb. So there’s a class on ice-climbing. I went down to sign up for that and the class was full. And I thought I was already down there, is there anything else? There was a class called “Be a Standup Comic!” It’s something that I always wanted to try and I took the class, and the woman teaching it was SO unfunny, and so HORRIBLE, and I thought if she can do this ANYONE ON EARTH can do this.
And it was $35. It was worth the money just to find out about the open mikes. I didn’t know how you became a standup comic. It went really well from there. I did amateur nights, stuff like that. It was . . . well, here’s saving you $35 from taking her class: Write down what you think is funny and perform it. That’s basically this woman’s class. I went, “wow, you are a ripoff artist. You have no idea what you’re doing.”1 2 3 4 5 Next-->
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