By Blake Garris
A New York based comedian who has been featured on Conan, Comedy Central and John Oliver's Stand Up Show, Mike Lawrence also happens to be a huge comic book fan.
We recently spoke to Mike as he geared up up for the release of his debut comedy album “Sadamantium” about his love for The Thing, why he would be Wonder Man if he could be any super hero and how he once explained Spider-Man's Clone Saga to Marc Maron.
Marvel.com: To begin, what Marvel comics are you reading right now?
Mike Lawrence: I do stand-up comedy so I don’t always have the money, but I read some of them. My favorite guy working now is Dan Slott. I’m not all caught up; I haven’t read all the Marvel NOW! stuff but I love a lot of his stuff. We live in an age where Hawkeye has the best book on the stands. That’s pretty awesome.
Marvel.com: How did you feel about the twist with SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN?
Mike Lawrence: I think all that’s cool. I know people hate that stuff. But every day that goes by and we’re not in the Clone Saga, I think people should just shut up. It’s been way worse if you hate that kind of stuff. I think it’s awesome. The characters are supposed to do these weird, different stories and wacky interpretations. He’ll always end up going back to punching the Shocker in his face and making fun of him for it.
|Spider-Man: The Clone Saga|
Marvel.com: Speaking of the Clone Saga, you were on Marc Maron’s podcast and had a lot of things to say about that. Can you explain that?
Mike Lawrence: I got to explain to Marc Maron what the Clone Saga was. While the technical terms of continuity don’t make sense, the heartbreak does. He was able to understand through that and the amount of crying I was doing.
Marvel.com: What would be your all-time favorite Marvel book if you had to pick one?
Mike Lawrence: If I had to pick, I would go with the one that resonated with me the most in my formative years of comics. The one I absolutely loved was UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-MAN, because that made me love the modern stuff that was going at the time and also made me super into the [Steve] Ditko/[Stan] Lee stuff. I love all that old Silver Age stuff. I think that John Byrne’s FANTASTIC FOUR is up there. I just bought an Omnibus for the first time and that’s the one I got. Those are really hard to read. No one told me that holding a seven-pound book would be that difficult, but it is.
Marvel.com: The cover of your album is a drawing of you as Wolverine. Why is that?
Mike Lawrence: I wanted to embody the most popular character in Marvel history that Stan Lee didn’t create, that way he can’t take credit for it. [Laughs]
|This Man, This Monster|
It’s funny because my actual favorite super hero is The Thing. I love The Thing. He’s just not as popular. I would love to have had the album called, “This Man, This Monster.” That’s what I really wanted to do. It was just a little too obscure. Trust me; it’s painful to realize that not everyone has read FANTASTIC FOUR #51, one of the greatest issues of all time. It came right after Galactus, too. That’s how great those two dudes were. They did this epic battle against Galactus and then the next issue was “This Man, This Monster.” I would totally love to do that. It really was The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine. It really was the pinnacle of the 60’s. That was the X-Men of it’s time. It was the biggest and most popular book.
Marvel.com: Have you read some of the recent Fantastic Four stuff?
Mike Lawrence: The Jonathan Hickman stuff? Yeah, some of it’s awesome. I love the council of the different Reeds. That’s a really cool idea. I love a lot of it. I could never get into characters like Annihilus. Those villains are so big. I’ll always take Rhino over them. Just some dumb thug that agreed to be put into a rhino suit is more appealing to me than this great evil that never has a personality. I think Thanos is one of the only characters of that type that bucks that trend. That’s only because most of his stuff was written by the same guy, Jim Starlin, who just kept pushing that character and giving him new layers. For the most part, those kinds of MacGuffin characters usually don’t interest me. I think Ultron is the exception, just because of how weird all of that is. All the Oedipal stuff. [Laughs]
Marvel.com: What makes The Thing your favorite character?
Mike Lawrence: For one, he’s Jewish. That’s seriously a part of it. We’ve got him, Sabra and Magneto who’s sometimes a villain and sometimes not. It’s cool to have a Jewish hero. That and he’s the guy that everybody loves. He’s like a great character actor. He’s like Stephen Root, who is amazing in “Office Space,” great in “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” He steals the show in everything. You don’t always notice him the most but he makes things that much better. I don’t even drink but I would have a beer with Ben Grimm.
One of my favorite issues, and you couldn’t really do this with any other character, was MARVEL-TWO-IN-ONE #186, where it’s him and the Sandman. Sandman comes into a bar and thinks that they’re going to fight and then he’s depressed because he had recently merged with Hydro-Man to become a giant mud monster. So they’re just talking it out and Sandman explains his origin and how he’s depressed. And then Ben just lets him go and that’s the issue. That sort of began the Sandman’s good guy turn. The Sandman is my favorite Spider-Man villain. I’m a bit of a “Spider-Man 3” apologist because of it. There’s a scene between Sandman, Spider-Man and the armored car. That’s the best scene in Spider-Man cinematic history for me. That captures everything I love about the character. It’s only three minutes and I watch it on YouTube all the time. When Spider-Man punches through the stomach and he pulls his shoes off and there’s sand in them. He’s fighting and he’s kind of quippy during it. He’s overwhelmed and he loses. That’s the thing I love. Spider-Man lost all the time. He always figures out how to win in the end but it was like twenty pages of losing and one page of victory. [Laughs]
|Marvel Two-in-One #86|
Marvel.com: Can you tell fans about your “Nerd of Mouth” podcast?
Mike Lawrence: It’s definitely more entertaining than it is informative. We don’t have all the newest news and we’re not all caught up on everything but we analyze stuff and make fun of it. It’s the conversations that used to happen at comic book shops before they just existed to take your money. The beautiful, dusty, musty, stinky comic book shops where a guy with no social skills and no business acumen would sit there, looking terrible, and almost push you out before you ever bought a book. We try to capture that feeling a bit and it’s awesome.
Marvel.com: Did you like “Marvel’s The Avengers?”
Mike Lawrence: I liked “The Avengers” because it was a great movie and it was a great super hero story. I’m a wrestling fan too, and I will say this: The actual fight was a bit of a squash match. There was never any suspense or drama. But that’s often how the first movies are, bringing everything together just to show off everybody but it did it in a great way. Everyone was doing something the whole time and no one was overexposed.
Marvel.com: If you were a Marvel super hero, who would you be?
Mike Lawrence: I was about to say Hawkeye, but am I really going to deny myself powers? I could be Mimic but nobody else has powers so I wouldn’t be able to mimic them. The trick answer doesn’t even work. Oh man, this is really genuinely tough. I would be Wonder Man. I would be Simon Williams. The red eyes are awesome; it’s just a cool looking visual. You can say, “I was killed and then my brain patterns were put in a robot and my brother has a scythe for a hand. But you’re telling me about your problems.” He has one of the craziest origin stories but he’s still like a happy-go-lucky dude. I love Wonder Man. I would be Simon Williams.
Marvel.com: What made you decide to have a Wolverine type album cover? Album covers are a pretty big deal, why did you decide to go that route?
Mike Lawrence: It just fit. That title, I love it. I couldn’t pass it up. I came up with it and it was just too fun. I knew I was going to do something comic book-y, and then that came together. I said Wolverine isn’t my favorite character. I don’t think he’s a mutant; he just uses the Canadian health care system a lot. It just fit. It’s that thing too, where if you don’t know what it is it’s not going to completely stop you from buying it. But if you do know what it is, you’re definitely going to want to buy it.
Marvel.com: The title is so great that it’s a wonder no one came up with it before.
Mike Lawrence: I Google searched it. I looked it up, because I was terrified that there was no way this name hadn’t been taken. When I saw that it hadn’t, I was so happy. It says everything about me. My act is very pop-culture heavy. It’s very comic book heavy, but also [expletive] depressing.
Marvel.com: It sounds like Marvel fans would really love your stand-up.
Mike Lawrence: Yeah, for sure. I don’t dwell on it and the thing that I can say about my nerd comedy is that I don’t pander. I make jokes but I’m not contextual. I know there are guys who exclusively do cons and that kind of stuff. They’re just goofy and fun. I am not. My act is not “The Big Bang Theory.” It’s heavier, it’s more depressing, but it’s fun too. I tried to really capture what it’s like to be a nerd; the idea of growing up and feeling uncomfortable and then also realizing that everyone wants to take your money.
|Cover to Sadamantium|
Marvel.com: Is there a nerd community of comedians that get together and talk comics?
Mike Lawrence: Yeah, in some ways. What often happens is that there’s definitely a huge sports community. There’s a ton of dudes who love talking about the Knicks and all that. Those guys are fine, and then there’s us. It definitely goes both ways. People will come up to me knowing that I’m the guy they can talk to about that stuff. It’s awesome.
Marvel.com: Last question, how can fans reach you? I know that you’re active on Twitter and you have a website.
Mike Lawrence: Yeah. I’m active on Twitter and Facebook. I guess I would say that if you find flaws in the album, point them out to me and I’ll send you a No-Prize. [Laughs]