Marcus making new impression

Mar 24 2011 - 6:46pm


Comedian Marcus performs April 1 and 2 at Wiseguys Comedy Cafe in Ogden.
Comedian Marcus performs April 1 and 2 at Wiseguys Comedy Cafe in Ogden.

The evolution of Marcus has continued.

The Utah comic has all but dropped his impressions that included spot-on renditions of Gilbert Gottfried, Captain Jack Sparrow and Christopher Walken.

"Impressions to me are kind of like a magic trick. It's something that you do and then you go 'ta-da,' " said Marcus, in a phone interview in advance of next weekend's shows in Ogden. "When I was starting out and was doing 7 to 10 minutes a night, impressions were easy. Because there's your punch line. 'What if Christopher Walken was an ice cream man?' Then you say a line and that's it. There's no real challenge to it."

The problem with impressions in the comedy world is that they can be considered "hacky," he said. Now, since his finish as a finalist in the 2008 season of NBC's "Last Comic Standing," he can refine his writing skills.

"I like the challenge. If I am going to be on the stage for an hour or even an hour and a half, I like the ability to challenge myself. I think writing good, thought-out bits of comedy, it's much more of a challenge for me, and ultimately more rewarding when it works," Marcus said.

"It's taking risks and hoping the audience laughs at it like you want."

Marcus decided the character in the new material should be him.

"To me, I am really proud of my life. I am very proud of my marriage and my family," Marcus said. "So for me, I like to find those funny moments."

Impressions still play a small part in the act. But they are used in the construct of the joke and not the punch line, he said.

That doesn't stop calls for the classics.

"I still get people who will yell out "Do Christopher Walken." And I am like. 'Why?' Then I say one line and people go nuts," Marcus said.

Professor Marcus

Marcus has also evolved into a new avenue -- teaching.

Recently, he gave a Q&A at an open-mic night at Wiseguys Comedy Cafe in Trolley Square in Salt Lake City. His first message to aspiring comics is to be completely different.

"I think with anybody starting out, the number one goal is to forget everything you know about any other comics," Marcus said. "In my business, if someone comes up to me and says, 'You sound like Dane Cook' -- that's an insult. Because it means you are a hack."

Too often, people who work open-mic nights will resort to gross-out humor, and an easy laugh, he said.

Marcus wants something better. He said the problem lies with how the joke is created.

"Rather than saying, 'What's funny that I can talk about,' I like to say, 'What do I want to talk about,' and then find the funny in that."

He wants new comics to succeed. But he got lucky to get his big break, he emphasized. He worked hard to become a headlining comic, but he had to "get lucky" to get a chance to perform on the NBC show.

Now, he wants to train local comics.

"I would love to make Salt Lake City this great comedy scene. I would love to make it so there were 20 comics that came out of Salt Lake," Marcus said.

"I just want people to be ready. There are some amazing comics in Salt Lake that I feel should be on TV and deserve to be there."


Watch the comedy of Marcus:



  • WHO: Marcus
  • WHEN: 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. April 1 and 2
  • WHERE: Wiseguys Comedy Cafe, 269 Historic 25th St., Ogden.
  • TICKETS: $15. Ages 18 and over.

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