We discussed him here on Shambhala SunSpace the other day; now the comedian, a hit on NBC TV’s Last Comic Standing, talks to the Shambhala Sun about comedy and Buddhism — and the unique way he brings them together — in an interview recorded just before the Last Comic Standing finals.
If you’ve only seen standup comic Mike DeStefano on this season of Last Comic Standing, here’s an advisory: the non-TV version of DeStefano — as found on his live album, OK Karma — might surprise you a bit. Every word you probably wouldn’t utter, in public at least, is there. (One exception: the N-word, which DeStefano believes could never be funny and non-hurting — or even acceptable — coming from his lips.)
Now, on LCS, he comes across as gruff and tough… but pretty likeable. (Otherwise, how would he have made it to the show’s finals, which will air on August 2?) On OK Karma, he’s all those things but… let’s just say: this is very adult material.
And there’s something else surprising about Mike DeStefano: He’s a Buddhist. [Click through to read more and to listen to the Shambhala Sun's interview with DeStefano. ]
Maybe one can’t be blamed for being surprised about DeStefano’s commitment to Buddhism: he doesn’t fit any easy “Buddhist” stereotype, and people don’t generally associate Buddhism with the kind of nasty language he’s known to use onstage. (Clearly, DeStefano gets away with so much because audiences can sense there’s a big heart under it all.) Nor does he talk about Buddhism much.
But he doesn’t exactly hide his connection to the dharma, either. He’s got a massive Buddha tattoo, and the cover of OK Karma (left) pictures him sitting in for a Buddha, seated on a lotus throne… albeit, while smoking a cigarette and wielding a firearm.
As the show’s end approaches, the biggest question about DeStefano is, will he be the actual Last Comic Standing? That can’t be answered right now, but there are plenty of things to ask this fascinating and unconventional entertainer in the meantime.
I spoke to DeStefano by phone about comedy, Buddhism, and recovery — and how he brings them all together. Click the player below to listen:
My thanks to Mike for speaking to the Shambhala Sun; best of luck to him, for the Last Comic Standing finals and beyond.
- Mike DeStefano: Last Comic Standing’s Buddhist voice? (There you’ll find a link to the podcast discussed in the clip you just listened to on this page.)
- The mindful comic: Garry Shandling’s “Zen approach to laughter”
- “What’s so funny about Buddhism?” Cartoonist David Sipress explains