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Mike Lebovitz Gets Live, Records Album At 'Comedians You Should Know'

By Allison Kelley in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 3, 2014 7:00PM

Lots of people go to comedy shows and think they can do what the comic on stage is doing. If you hang back at the end of a show as the crowd lets out and listen, you’ll hear at least one “that guy was funny, but I could do that too. I kill it at work.”

That’s the thing about great comics; they make their job look effortless. But the reality is most people (even good comedians) cannot stand in front of a crowd of people for an hour and tell jokes that produce consistent laughter. Like a marathon runner, you have to understand pacing. Unlike a marathoner, you need to engage the audience. They don’t want to just see you whiz by, they want to see you make a genuine connection with them. Comic Mike Lebovitz is a silly man and self-described slob. He doesn’t look like a marathoner, but we assure you, he is.

Lebovitz recorded a live comedy album Saturday night in front of a packed house in the back bar at River North watering hole, Timothy O’Toole’s Pub. Lebovitz is part of the comedy collective and stand-up show, Comedians You Should Know, which has has a regular showcase at the pub every Wednesday night since 2010.

For the first half of the show, the audience got to know Lebovitz through anecdotes about his slob lifestyle: “When I check into a hotel room I feel like it’s too clean. So I gotta mess it up. So I’ll open my suitcase…it’s a Trader Joe’s bag.”

And why he prefers riding the bus to taking a plane:

“I’m in what we in show business call the “Mega Bus” phase of my career. You can bring anything you want on a Mega Bus. You got a dead body at home? Bring it along! Throw it in a duffle. Show it the country! As long as you can load it up onto the luggage compartment by yourself, they’re not asking any questions. Mega Bus: How to dispose of a body for as little as $1 a day.”

We learned Lebovitz is Jewish, sort of:

“I’m not much of a Jew. I finally got a menorah last December but that was a Christmas gift. I’m half-Jewish. So I figure that means I get to choose whether or not to be Jewish based on the situation. I remember being 11-years-old and I found out Hebrew school started at 8 am on Sundays, and I’m like, “fuck, glad I’m not Jewish.”

At the halfway point, the audience a beer or two deep, Lebovitz introduced the crowd to his family. We learned about the first time he met his wife in college: “Man, that was a long time ago. This was back in a weird time where people would be introduced to people through other people, rather than machines. It was this weird fluke of history.”

And his decision to move to the suburbs recently with his family:

“My friends can’t believe that I moved out of the city. Really? You can’t believe I don’t want my son going to the same elementary school that I buy drugs at?”

Towards the end of his hour-long set, Lebovitz covered his darkest material, the events surrounding and leading up to his DUI: “I do have a 9-year-old DUI. And to be clear it is not a DUI that I adopted as an infant and have raised for 9 years. I got it on the North Side of Chicago.”

Lebovitz closed out the night with more of his signature self-deprecation. The thing that made the audience stay on board for an hour and relate to the slob, and sometimes coke guy, in the hoodie:

“My most favorite thing about my wife, absolute A-#1, is that for some fucking reason [“heh heh” laughs into the mic], she digs it [pointing to his body]. I think that’s fucking punk rock, man. But it would be my worst nightmare if my daughter brought home some dude like me. Like, 'hey mom, dad! You gotta meet my new boyfriend. He’s an alcoholic, man-child, who tells dick jokes for a living!'”

If you want see Lebovitz or the rest of the Comedians You Should Know cast perform, you can catch them every Wednesday night at 9 p.m. at Timothy O’Toole’s Pub at 622 N Fairbanks Ct. Check back soon for a link to the full Lebovitz recording of this show on iTunes.