Today I had the opportunity to speak with Las Vegas comedian and juggler Michael Goudeau.
Hello Michael where are your originally from?
I`m from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. That`s French for “red stick.” When I was a kid in elementary school we made dioramas of Indians and French trappers standing next to a red stick. In that part of Louisiana the name choices were red stick or mosquito swarm. It was a great place for a kid to grow up. I did a lot of Huck Finn sort of things, spent my time fishing and catching turtles. I was completely absorbed in catching as many “red eared sliders” as I could. At one point I had 108 of them in a baby bassinet.
What was your inspiration to become a comedian and a juggler?
When I was a kid my father gave me a “How to Juggle” book. I already had a unicycle I had bought at a garage sale for $4. I was 15 years old at the time. I was working at a Renaissance Faire in California. At the faire I ran a carnival game booth that we had covered in burlap to make it seem “authentic.” I saw a couple of guys do a comedy and juggling act, people were laughing and giving them money. This was a lot more exciting than turtle hunting. I went home and dug out that juggling book and started practicing. I found a friend who wanted to do a show with me. He and I practiced 4 hours a day for 6 months. We went from zero to doing street shows in San Francisco as fast as we could.
We literally decided we would do a comedy juggling act before we could juggle at all. I was lucky to be near San Francisco which was during the big comedy club boom and I got to see great comedians doing shows including Bobcat Goldthwait and Paula Poundstone.
Watching them perform I learned that juggling wasn`t nearly as cool as being funny. I`ve worked hard to do a funny show that involves juggling rather than just a juggling show. Since then I`ve done more shows there than any other juggler ever and I`ve somehow become the most successful juggler in Las Vegas history.
You are also a Writer/Producer; tell me about the projects that you are currently working on and also some of your past projects?
I got my TV writing break on Penn and Teller`s Sin City Spectacular. It was a weekly variety show on the FX network. Penn and Teller invited a few of their variety artist friends to come in and write for a week. At the end of my week I refused to go home. I was having a blast writing jokes and laughing. When my week was over I still came in every day. After a few days they quit trying to chase me off and offered me a full time job on the show. I worked as a writer and then did audience warm up during the taping of the shows. TV taping is always a pretty slow business but one night there were a lot of technical problems and so I had to try to be entertaining while they fixed the equipment. I was on stage for about 8 hours. I only had about 45 minutes of material. I did everything I could think of. At one point I got the audience to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” It was a long night.
Thanks to “Sin City Spectacular” a lot of things I never could have imagined became my life. I got the chance to write jokes for my childhood heroes, the Smother`s Brothers. I met “Slash.” I wrote a comedy bit for Lyle Lovett that turned out to be amazing. I met and worked with dozens of famous people who were talented, kind and were happy to work on a bit with a new writer.
Since then I`ve been a writer and executive producer for Penn and Teller`s Showtime series “Penn & Teller: BS!” We just finished taping season 7. We`re now the longest running show in Showtime history. It`s a great job too. I get to write about things that matter to me. It`s a show examining the BS of everyday life. We get to be funny and serious while telling the truth as we see it. There`s an awful lot of BS out there. I hope the show runs forever.
Where are you presently performing?
I`m currently at the Monte Carlo Resort in Las Vegas as a featured act in the “Lance Burton Master Magician” show. I`ve been in the show since 1991. I also do a couple of corporate events and trade shows a month to keep me nervous. Its fun to do shows in other situations with new scripts. It keeps me sharp and working hard. I`m hired to write shows to match products or companies and tie them into juggling. If you`ve got a booth at a trade show and a product that doesn`t generate a lot of excitement on its own, I can do a show about it. People laugh and they learn the name of the product and what it does. It works surprisingly well. I`ve gotten pretty adept at fitting juggling metaphors to a huge variety of products from computer software to big metal storage boxes.
Are you available for bookings?
I am available for some shows. Jay Leno gave me some advice a long time ago. It was pretty simple. “If you do a show, you get a check. So do shows.” I`ve tried to follow that. Anyone can get in touch with me at www.mikegoudeau.com. There are clips from my juggling show there and links to some of the dumb stuff I`ve done. I was the lead in a Barry Manilow video and that link is there. I think there`s also a link to my chicken gumbo recipe.
What do you do in your spare time, if any?
I`ve got two kids so my spare time is generally spoken for. We`ve got basketball, ice skating lessons, and birthday parties every week of the year. You do the math. Two young kids in school, they`re each in a class with 19 other kids, that`s 38 parties from just the kids in their classes. They`ve got other friends too. We get enough calories from cake and pizza every weekend that we don`t buy groceries. On the up side, you should see how good we are at the games at Chuck E. Cheese. We have enough of their prize tickets to get a Toyota Sienna.
Thanks so much for the fantastic interview and keep up the great work, for more information: