Mike Polk Jr. has somehow convinced the other members of Last Call Cleveland to continue working with him, which is a nice thing, both for Mr. Polk and us. You'll have a couple of chances to catch the comedy troupe or Polk on his own in the coming weeks, and since it's been awhile since we caught up with Cleveland's most in-demand Frank Jackson impersonator, we decided to call him. He answered, because he's a publicity whore and a damn good one. Here's our chat.
Vince Grzegorek: So give people the plugs. Where and when can they see you and make their holidays brighter?
Mike Polk: We've got these two shows with Last Call Cleveland and friends this week at Mahall's in Lakewood. Thursday and Saturday at 8 p.m. It's $10 in advance and $12 the day of the show. It's a Christmas cavalcade of fun. There will be videos and songs and sketches.
VG: OK. Where else?
MP: I have two individual shows on New Year's Eve at the Improv. Those are just going to be electric. What better way to ring in the new year?
VG: Than with you?
MP: Yeah. Exactly.
VG: Why should people decide to spend their last few dollars before bouncing their checking accounts on seeing you again?
MP: Really good question. Fair, but firm. It's a Christmas show, and the Last Call stuff is pretty much all new, and it's all in the Christmas spirit. It's just a bunch of new garbage. We're actually still writing it, even though the show's on Thursday. It'll be more of a party than a show, so that's something. We're going to obliterate all the myths about Christmas and just give the audience a real Christmas experience without the bullshit.
VG: I'm not sure how well Cleveland, Christmas and Christmas-related booze parties go together. Last Saturday was the Tremont Santa Shuffle thing. Around 8:30 that night, my fiancee found a man passed out cold asleep in the middle of our street. He had no idea where his friends were. His phone was dead. He had a big knot on the side of his face. They called an ambulance for him. You really want to party with Cleveland for Christmas?
MP: It's always a mix, but not always a good mix. It should work in theory. I think the way that we Clevelanders drink all year, we treat every day like a holiday. So when the actual holiday comes around, even our systems aren't ready for that. Oh, you want to drink even more? We're already at a tipping point most of the year. The night of that Santa Shuffle, I was at the Happy Dog, and I saw two Santas get thrown out for being belligerent and drunk, which is just funny on so many levels. And you have to think there was at least one kid in a car driving by who saw not one but two Santas get tossed on the street who then screamed vulgarities back at the bouncer.
VG: Where can people find your stylings these days anyway? Tony Rizzo's show, right?
MP: Yeah, the Rizzo show on Fox 8, Sunday nights at 11 p.m.
VG: The most sober hour in Cleveland's whole week, I would guess.
MP: Yeah. Our demo is really sad drunk people. We've been doing it for almost three years now.
VG: How else do you make all the millions?
MP: I do a bunch of -- it's so tedious -- I do a bunch of Internet ad stuff. I write and produce ads, billboards, video and crap for companies.
VG: So you're who I should blame.
MP: Yeah, whenever you're cursing at an ad, you're indirectly cursing at me. Can I go back to the New Year's Eve show for a second?
VG: It's your show.
MP: What I like about New Year's Eve shows is that I've done them before and I hate New Year's Eve as a holiday. There's always too much expectation, it's amateur night, etc. I worked them for a long time, and that was great because then you don't have to plan anything. Then I took a year off and thought maybe I was missing something. But no. I went to a couple of parties and remember that it's terrible. You're at some douchey club or your friend's sister's basement playing Scattergories. When they asked me to do the Improv, I was all on board. And what's cool is the crowd doesn't even care what you're saying. You're just something they did that night. So I could just go up and show an episode of Green Acres and they'll just watch it and applaud when it's over.
VG: Sounds like you have some Amazon shopping to do before then. Did you enjoy Johnny's debut at the Factory of Sadness?
MP: That could have gone better. But what's funny is, after all the Browns crap I've done over the years, I get crappy radio stations from Baltimore or whatever asking me what I think and they want me to be mad and outraged, like a Lewis Black sort of thing. I just don't have it in me. I've just sort of accepted it. Even yesterday, when everyone else was pissed off, I was like, 'This is about right.' The saddest thing was watching this one dude selling T-shirts on Lakeside and on the way in, he was like, 'Johnny Manziel shirts! $15 a piece!" and on the way out it was, "Johnny Manziel shirts. Two for $10." That's so perfect.
VG: As a guy who does a solid C+ impression of Mayor Jackson, what would Mike Polk's Frank Jackson be saying about all the horrible things going on in the city right now?
MP: My Frank Jackson is utterly clueless. I'm not saying that's the real thing. I think he's had an overall steady hand, but he's also had no competition. Now, all of a sudden, he has to govern and he's like, 'Wait a second, you're not allowed to be mad at me. You just keep electing me.' He has to do stuff now, and the whole response from everyone has been so tone deaf. You have this report from the actual federal government saying your police department doesn't know what it's doing and he's like, 'Nope.' They're like, 'Here are all the facts.' And he's like, 'Nah, I don't like that report. No thank you.' By the way, why do you media people prefer fucking phone calls? Why wouldn't you just send me an email with five questions and you'd get pithy answers that make sense?
VG: You catch people candidly in real conversations, I guess is how the thinking goes. Plus no one answers email. You should get people in person.
MP: Here's the reason that doesn't make sense. You guys are using the same standards for politicians as you are with a dick joke-telling comic. You're going to get a better piece if you have a comic think a little bit. And you're not going to catch me. I'm not going to say, 'Jews are running the media.' There's no gotcha quote. Like, a decade-ago Mike, he did that. Maybe he was like, 'Here are what Koreans are really like,' but I'm not going to fuck up like that now. Just email me five questions. I always answer emails.
VG: So anyone can just send you five questions over email and you'll answer them?
MP: Yup. I'll answer anyone's five questions.
VG: I'll let them know.