Jokers Gone Wild | Buzz Blog

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Jokers Gone Wild

Local comedy trio talks stand-up, drinking, bombing and more drinking

Posted By on January 4, 2015, 2:55 AM

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If you haven't been checking out the independent shows happening int he Utah comedy circuit these days, you're really missing out. These are showcases run completely outside the major clubs in town, taking up homes in local bars and establishments to present an evening of comedy at a cheap price. Many of the hosts of these evenings are comedians themselves, acting as emcee for the evening as they give you a taste of everyone they think is absolutely awesome. One particular group that has taken off to become it's own entity is Jokers Gone Wild, a trio of comedians across the Wasatch Front who are putting on showcases to highlight themselves and bring up new talent in a cool environment where you got a fair shot at success of bombing. Today we chat with the three men behind the group about their careers and the comedy scene. (All pictures courtesy of JGW.)

Mike Mireles, Kevin Gillingham & Marcus Whisler
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Gavin: Hey guys, first thing, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

I'm in my early 60s. In fact, so early, that I'm only 33. Although mentality, it's safe to assume I'm in my preteen years. Physically, I definitely have the sweet bod of a 60-year-old. Not to mention the ED.

Marcus: Well, I'm Marcus, I'm going to school at the OWATC for their computer graphic design program. Maybe I'll just copy and paste my intro from one of those dating profiles I've been trying for the past decade. I'm from the Ogden area, born and raised right here in "OOtah." That should explain a lot of my faults. My bit is musical comedy, I get to hide behind my guitar and occasionally my ukulele, and squawk at the crowd.

Mike: I'm a former California trouble maker who turned to Clearfield Job Corps to turn my life around in 2000. That program changed my life and now I live my lifelong dream of working with at-risk youth. In 2004, I sought out a place to work on my other lifelong dream and discovered Wiseguys Open Mic. I performed as Mike M. for many years because no one could ever pronounce Mireles (meed-el-es). I’ve only recently begun going by my whole name.

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Gavin: When did you each take an interest in comedy and who were some early influences?

I've always been a ham and a class clown. It came naturally, still not refined, but the basic formula has tumor-ed into me. I pretty much started doing songs at house parties back in my college days. Mainly, this one called, "The Name Song." I know the original title, just goes to show the depth of it all. But everyone loved this song, I would play this three chord progression and go around the room ripping on everyone there impromptu style. That was my initial gateway drug. My dad was always a big influence, he could gut a laugh out of just about anyone. I remember him listening to Allan Sherman and Ray Stevens whilst I grew up.

Mike: I was in third grade watching Eddie Murphy Delirious every day. Then any form of stand up I could find on TV. A&E's An Evening At The Improv, MTV's Half Hour Comedy Hour, all the HBO specials, etc. My first favorites were Eddie Murphy and Rodney Dangerfield. My influences when I started performing were Mitch Hedberg and Dave Chappelle.

Kevin: I think everyone takes an interest in comedy for the same reason: so we don't drop-kick infants off the London Bridge.

Gavin: What made you each decide to attempt standup comedy as a career?

I was a guest speaker at a graduation for Clearfield Job Corp and I failed miserably. I forgot everything, even with notes. I was pouring sweat and I did about two minutes of what should have been about 7-10. I’d always wanted to attempt stand up and that failure made up my mind for 2 reasons. First, to face and overcome my new found fear of public speaking. And second, bcause bombing on stage couldn't possibly be any worse than that feeling that day. I wouldn’t call comedy my career at this point.

Kevin: Like every other comic, I was a class clown. My friend, Jeff Zivkovic, finally nudged me hard enough that I gave in and tried it. It was at a coffee shop that I first attempted stand up AND met Mike M. at the same time. Since then, we've committed many crimes together. Mostly misdemeanors, but a few were probably felonies.

Marcus: Comedy as a career? Well, I'm treating it more of a hobby right now, you know, to avoid all that disappointment and paparazzi.

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Gavin: What was it like for you to break into local lineups and get gigs?

For me, any show is always butterflies. Maybe I should start dating comedy instead of people. To get invited to be a part of a show is always wicked awesome and an honor. For another comedian to want you to join in on their show, it's like warm cookies my dead grandma used to bake... savory.

Kevin: At first, it wasn't real easy. Not because I wasn't funny, but because I didn't know anybody and most comics (at least 'round here) aren't real outgoing. There's a few who are but mostly comics are self centered and don't like chit chat, myself included. That, plus I was really offensive. I've toned it down a lot over the years. And that's bad because I'm STILL pretty offensive.

Mike: Salt Lake has an amazing talent pool out here. I don’t live in the salt lake area and my swing shift schedule doesn’t allow for me to get a lot of face time with the folks on the scene. So being invited to share the stage with some of them is a total privilege (I would say honor, but that’s pretty cliché and I’m just not that articulate at the moment). I intend to rock the mic on any stage I hit for the purpose of making the people laugh as well as to show folks on the scene what I can do.

Gavin: When you first started out, what lessons did you first learn about performing?

That bombing feels wayyyyyyy worse than it sounds.

Mike: The very first thing I learned was to relax. I found when I did, I performed well. When I didn't, I caught myself trying too hard and failing. Other than that, I can’t say I learned any lessons when I first started out. I’d have to say I learned mostly by trial and lots of error well into my time performing.

Marcus: With my earlier shows, I definitely learned Murphy's Comic Law, no two shows will ever be the same. I used to think, my songs were on lock and tight, but the crowd is always different, especially bar crowds. I quickly learned not to take it easy, to keep on my toes, and when it was really bad, everyone at least takes a quick look back to your set when you strip down to your boxers on stage.

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Gavin: How did the three of you each meet and end up becoming friends?

I was hosting a show at a sports bar in Weber County. While posting a flyer up in a coffee shop Kevin G. was on stage spewing his ridiculousness. I stopped, listened, laughed and handed him a flyer. We’ve been lovers ever since. Marcus came along several years later. We’re also lovers. Don’t tell Kevin.

Marcus: I had just parted ways with another group that got me started in comedy here. And I hadn't really met too many in the local scene, say for Kevin G. I figured to hell with it, I'll try and plan a show. So, I got a hold of Kevin and we hammered it out and he suggested we put his friend Mike M. on the bill. I didn't really know anyone else, so I relied heavily on Kevin's wisdom, we all live and learn. And now we can't shake the mexican.

Kevin: Mike and I met at an open mic at a coffee shop and then on one of our many, many dates before I let him bed me, we picked Marcus out of a clearance bin at the D.I. because some unloving Mormon family threw him out.

Gavin: When did the idea to form a trio first come about and why Jokers Gone Wild for the title?

I have no idea. That was millions of gallons of whiskey ago. Hopefully one of them remember.

Marcus: After the first show, which we titled, "Jokers Gone Wild," I'd asked if they'd be interested in doing another show and sticking together as the core of it. We kept the title from the first show. And since then we've been running shows out of The Fifth in Bountiful for the past 2 1/2 years now. Along with that we get invited to do individual shows and sometimes as a trio. Just depends on been special hugging the most comics recently.

Mike: I believe the title of JGW was Marcus’ idea. He’s really the brains of the outfit. After a couple/few successful shows it just seemed like a good idea to put ourselves together (centipede style) and make things happen for ourselves.

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Gavin: How were the first few times you performed together as a trio?

Honestly, our first few shows went splendidly. we always have another local comic or two to be a part of the show. Typically, one of us will host the show. But obviously, the we performed well enough to want to stick together and for The Fifth to want us back.

Mike: KG and Marcus did a show as part of another showcase. Then the three of us (I think) were guests of another comic, then a show with just the three of us. Those first few shows ROCKED consistently so we had set the bar for ourselves pretty high. Marcus brings the energy. I’m a change of pace but I still try to pack an energetic punch. Kevin is the wild man. We’ll switch it up from time to time but I would say those are our natural roles.

Kevin: It's not that we perform AS a trio. We're just three dudes that put on a fun show and snag other comics to come join us.

Gavin: What made you decide to start putting together showcases for the comedy scene?

The other guys might have their own reasons, but for me it had to do with wanting to do things for ourselves, our way. All respect to every other stage in the scene, but where else but a JGW show do you get to see stun gun to the genitals, naked guitar comedy, and skeleton boners?! We do what we want!

Kevin: Aside from the obligatory "create more stage time" answer, we saw an opportunity at The Fifth (in Bountiful) and said "F it, let's start a show!"

Marcus: Like I mentioned earlier, I had parted ways with my first "group" and wanted to keep performing. I also, wanted to give other local comics a chance at some stage time that wasn't just open mic. We try to do a show every other month, though sometimes that doesn't always pan out.

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Gavin: Who are some of the people you've worked with for shows and how has it been running shows?

Oh, man, it's been awesome working with the folks in the scene. The ones I've worked with are: Monkey Business Comedy, Comedy and Other Opinions, Allstar Comedy Night, Big Redd Promotions, 2 of Us Entertainment, @LOL, the shows running out of Sandy Station, Comedy Roadkill Part 2 and K-Town Komedy.

Kevin: We've had tons of people from Melissa Merlot to Manuel Rodriguez to Nicholas Don Smith (if that IS his real name). Heck, we've even had Jesus and Jesus' DINOSAUR on the show! As far as running the show, I let Marcus handle that stuff because I'm usually pretty drunk. As far as hosting the shows, I should probably let him do more of that for the same reason.

Gavin: How did the opportunity come about to start doing spots for KWCR, and how was it hosting those shows?

Marcus was DJ of the month there (or year or something) and I think that creates an "in" for him. Plus, Austin Hatch is a sexy beast who pretty much lets us in whenever he can!

Marcus: Aaaaah, The Local Lounge on KWCR 88.1 FM! Those guys, Austin, Dane and Mario! Well, I knew the station manager at the time and was asking about some air time or something, and he put us in contact with those guys. So, they made the mistake of having us on their show one time, that's all it takes boys and girls, is just one time with the Jokers. And just about every time we've planned a show, they squeeze us in on the air with our guest comics. And if anyone knows anything, a room full of comics is gonna be nothing but blessed random chaos in the most erratic kinds of ways. I think Kevin and Mike brought a tazer to one show, and also, doing the interviews one time in their boxers. They're great guys and for some reason love having us, and we love them, more than chloroform and duct tape.

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Gavin: What's your take on the stand-up scene, both good and bad?

Salt Lake has a great scene! To bundle the positive and negative, I’ll say this: I wish more everyday comedy fans knew what kind of gold mine is in their own backyard. Come out and see some of the smaller local shows. Get familiar with the faces and names coming up out here. No knock against the comedy big dogs out here whatsoever. I respect and admire those folks too much. However, they’re not the only show in town. Also, Salt Lake is not the only town — in town! Kearns, Tooele, Sandy, Bountiful, Provo, Ogden and Logan all have standup going on. The "street tacos" of comedy, so to speak. Put 'em in your mouth!

Marcus: The local scene, I only focus on the good. Everyone I've come across, worked with, been to their shows are straight up awesome. One thing, I've liked about other comics when I not only was first starting out but also, planning the first Jokers Gone Wild shows, is that they share. Especially, Steve McInelly and Jon Clark. Be it input, advice, suggestions, or past wisdom and experiences, they share. They don't bogart information like Gollum with his Precious.

Kevin: For the most part, I like it. Like everything in life, it has it's goods and bads. One of the bad things is that it's very clique-y. Everyone says it's not, but deep down everyone knows it is. Luckily, just like high school, I get along with everyone and don't concern myself with gettin' cliqued up. At least, I think I do. Nobody has informed me otherwise, so everyone must love me. Right?

Gavin: Aside yourselves, who are some of your favorites you like to check out around town?

Jason Harvey puts on a fun show called Comedy and Other Opinions. K-Town comedy (in Kearns/Taylorsville) is a good show, too. Guy Seidel, Andy Gold and Jay Whittaker are unfairly hilarious. Rachel's leather is highly entertaining as well!

Marcus: I'll be honest, it's smegging hard not having a car, living in Ogden and trying to get around to great shows in SLC or further. But one guy that has just been phenomenal Is NDS! Nicholas Don Smith. This guy is like the twisted teddy bear of the scene. He supports everyone, every show and gives sooo much of himself and time to the scene, whilst still running his own shows like Dungeons&Comedy. I wouldn't really say favorites for me, but they're several comics I've been wanting to catch their acts and meet.

Mike: I don’t get out very often, but I still have my favorites. Levi Rounds killlls me! Jackson Banks and Cody Eden for sure. A few folks who I think are hilarious and way under the radar are Brian B-Mo Moore, Josh Gret, Spence Roper, Chad Jones, Dean Weber, Nicholas Don NDS Smith, and Manuel Rodriguez. Then of course, you have your ‘household’ names: Harvey, Merlot, Mower, Seidel, McInelly, Soelberg, Gold, Piper and many others. I could have named a ton more. But I’m not. Doesn’t make them any less awesome.

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Gavin: What advice do you have for people looking to getting into standup comedy?

Advice, advice, hmmmmm, advice? Don't be me? One thing I always tell people when they approach me saying they've never done comedy before but think they can do it and want to be on a show is hit up open mics! Get some material, get it polished somewhat and show that you support the scene and not just yourself. Or plan your own damn show! Bwahahaha, Just kidding. But yes, open mics. There, you will start making friends with the scene and that's all it is. We're doing what we like/love and sharing that. That's all I want to do, I'm not out to compete against someone else's show. So, if you want to be in it, then be a part of it. Bam, take that Hallmark!


Kevin: A. Just Do It. B. Just Do It Drunk. C. Don't join a clique, just be nice to everyone. D. Except for Mike M. Don't be nice to him. F Mike M.

Gavin: What do the three of you have planned for 2015?

No plans. Except maybe more Vegas runs.

Kevin: I'm gonna cut back on my drinking so I can afford the rich man's booze! As far as comedy, I dunno.

Marcus: 2015, I ain't got no real plans. Ha ha ha, the way I plan, which is months out, I think I get on Mike and KG's nerves from time to time. Just keep doing our show at least. Spruce it up a bit, get some more Shock shows lined up. But most importantly to me, just keep being Jokers Gone Wild. it's the longest relationship I've ever had. And that doesn't say much for my life.

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Gavin: Is there anything you want to plug?

I would like to thank our sponsors, Warner Data ( and My Choice Software (, and our contact for both, Colton Woolsey.

Kevin: I believe there's a Valentine's Day show? Marcus has that info.

Mike: Marcus Whisler.

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