Many may think that the life of a professional comedian is all fun and games. However, Emmy and Peabody award winner Paul Mecurio is a great example of how hard somebody has to work to make it in the comedy business.
He begins each day with several balls already in the air, including: refining his stand-up act, talking with his agents about upcoming projects or auditions, appearing on talk shows such as "Hannity" and "Red Eye," promoting himself on radio and television, working on his three TV shows that are in development and warming up audiences at "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."
"I do the 'Daily Show' warm-up and then do shows at night in New York City. Then I donate my blood and bone marrow. Then, there's usually a puppy in a well somewhere, so I save that. Then I go to sleep for an hour and do it all over again," he jokes.
Despite having a lot to work on these days, Mecurio wasn't always your standard comedy success story. Before he turned to comedy, Mecurio found success in a completely different field - as a lawyer on Wall Street.
The Rhode Island native went to Providence College and then Georgetown University for law school. After that, he was making big deals for law firms in New York City. As a hobby, he wrote jokes on the side. He eventually sold some of his jokes to Jay Leno to be used on "The Tonight Show."
"He paid me $50 for this joke, and it was the most powerful thing I'd ever seen. He encouraged me to go out and try jokes live before I sent them to him, so I did. That's when I began this, sort of, secret double life where I was a Wall Street lawyer by day and a comedian by night," he says. "For two years, I was hiding it. Nobody on Wall Street knew I was a comic, and nobody in the comedy world knew I was a Wall Street guy. I'd have no credibility in either world. No one wants their merger deal being done by a comedian."
Mecurio even kept his comedy career secret from his girlfriend at the time. The two met in high school and married after 13 years of dating.
"Eventually, she proposed to me. I can't remember her exact words because I get really emotional, but I remember it ending with 'Or get off the pot!'" he says.
Mecurio left Wall Street behind in 1995 and focused his time on his comedy career. For about eight years, he wrote and performed on "The Daily Show" but stopped when his own projects interfered with his ability to hold a full-time writer's position.
Today, he is developing three shows and trying to get them on the air. They include an unconventional talk show that relies on audience participation, an animated series about disgraced athletes who become superheroes, and an autobiographical scripted comedy about his life. In addition, he works as the host of HBO Sports' web series "Got No Game with Paul Mecurio."
He will be performing in a 45-minute to an hour set at Comix at Foxwoods this weekend.
Mecurio says he enjoys coming to the area because it's close to his hometown of Providence. He especially likes to bring his wife and son to their house in Stonington this time of year.
"It's a great way to get us out of the city," he says. "We love it there. It's also great because it keeps my family sane because it keeps them away from me. I am a handful to live with."