Comedian credits hard work, opportunity for success


Comedian Mark Normand’s style ranged from bold-faced to intimate. On handwritten notes lay an inventory of topics to be covered in the next hour: frequent travel, loneliness and anxiety.

The comedian often used humor to sift through personal struggles and incited the audience to laugh and verbally agree.

“I got some problems up top, you know, bad anxiety,” Normand said. ”You guys ever leave the house without headphones? This whole time I thought I loved music — turns out I just hate my brain. To fall asleep I don’t need a mattress designed by NASA, I need a Xanax and some self esteem.”

Normand came to the Comedy Attic June 30 and performed five times through July 2.

Two others made brief appearances on stage: host Jesse Bush of Bloomington and opener Ryan Schutt, a comic based out of Washington, D.C. After Schutt finished his routine, he cheered Normand onstage.

At 31, Normand has collected a variety of honors in the stand-up world: an album release with Comedy Central, return appearances on TBS’ “Conan” and tour dates with Amy Schumer.

The route to touring with Schumer wasn’t an easy one, Normand said.

Though captivated by filmmaking, Normand ultimately decided to move to New York City to pursue comedy, working as a janitor and furniture mover to pay the bills.

“It was hell that year, I had no money,” Normand said. “I would just do open mic every night. I bombed on one set and Schumer happened to be in the audience, and she was like ‘I like this guy.’ But I still bombed.”

Impressed with his wit, Schumer asked him to open her show the following week.

“Then I got a five-minute set together on Comedy Central,” Normand said. “I watched Amy go from small to huge those five or six years — it was amazing, we used to come to rooms like this except with five people. Now we’re on private jets, we’re going to fucking Melbourne, Australia, together.”

On his success, Normand credits hard work and ample opportunity.

“You gotta be so good they can’t ignore you,” he said. “That’s always a big line, but I think you just need to keep doing it until opportunity meets work and the right guy sees you. At least that’s one way to make it. I’d say it’s 88 percent busting your ass.”

Past awards for the comedian include first prize at the 2013 Caroline’s March Madness competition, the Village Voice newspaper’s “Best Comedian of 2013,” Esquire’s “Best New Comedian of 2012” and the New York Comedy Festival’s “2011 Comic To Watch.”

On NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” judge Roseanne Barr called his set “the best of the night.”

Upcoming projects for Normand include appearances on NBCUniversal’s new comedy channel Seeso, stops at the Moontower Comedy Festival in Austin, Texas, and the Melbourne Comedy Festival in Australia.

“It still doesn’t feel normal to me,” Normand said. “I’m on the plane with Amy thinking to myself, ‘This is crazy, I’m doing this because of jokes. Jokes got me here.’ That’s insane.”

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