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Who is Michael Che, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart‘s latest recruit? First and foremost, he’s a prolific workhorse of a standup known for performing in New York City comedy clubs seven nights a week, often in multiple venues each night. Secondly, he’s a writer for SNL whose work includes “12 Days Not a Slave” and that weird sketch where Zach Galifianakis plays a racist M&M. Thirdly, he’s a rising star who recently snagged a role in Chris Rock’s upcoming film Finally Famous, which sort of sounds like Rock’s take on Funny People.
But important as these tidbits may be, they’re also just lines on Che’s resume — and they don’t say much about what we might expect from him once he makes the leap from NBC to Comedy Central. Maybe these fun facts will be a little more revealing:
1. He grew up in the projects of New York City’s Lower East Side
Michael Che, born Michael Che Campbell — yes, the “Che” is after Che Guevara – frequently talks about his hard-luck upbringing in his standup. See, for example, this Comedy Central clip, which finds Che describing his old pal Homeless Dave. (“We used to tease the kids in the shelter because they were the only people we knew poorer than us,” he explains. “And we thought somehow they were messing up our property value by being homeless.”)
Link to clip if you actually want to watch
2. He’s been performing for less than five years
Try to contain your envy, wannabe comedians: Che, who turns 31 this year, did his very first open mic at the relatively advanced age of 26. That actually may be how he got so good so fast: “I was 26, and a lot of people were like 20, 22, so I had a little bit better sense of myself than a lot of people that started out. I had been a fan of comedy since I was in diapers, so I kind of knew what standup sounded like, in a lot of ways,” he explained to Splitsider last year. “I’m from New York and I started n New York, which I think is a huge advantage because I wasn’t overwhelmed by the city. I understood the city. All of the distractions that could come with somebody that started comedy in New York didn’t really happen for me.”
5. He’s also not political
Wait – The Daily Show hired a guy who explicitly doesn’t care about current events? It’s true! Take this line from an interview with The Independent: “I don’t know a lot…I went to Egypt because I had no idea there was a revolution on.” This bit from a set Che performed on Late Night with Seth Meyers just a month ago is even more strongly stated: “I’m not saying I shouldn’t have to pay any taxes, but I shouldn’t have to pay as many as somebody that votes. I don’t vote because I don’t know anything about politics. And honestly, I can’t believe they’d let me. Isn’t that an important thing? They’ll just let me pick the president! I don’t gotta know anything!” Think he plans to bone up before joining Jon Stewart’s fake news team?
His standup clips don't make me very hopeful, but I wasn't too fond of Jessica when she started and she's my favorite correspondent now.
Remainder of list at the Source