Comic Mark Normand keeps it real: ‘The funniest stuff isn’t made up.’

Alvy Singer, the protagonist from Woody Allen’s masterpiece “Annie Hall,” has something in common with comic Mark Normand. Normand grew up in a dilapidated mansion in New Orleans’ Treme section.

“It was a weird place to grow up in since we were constantly getting robbed,” Normand recalls during a telephone interview from his New York apartment. “It definitely had an impact on me. I would often walk into the house and someone would be in my dad’s office stealing a computer or something. But our house was usually a disappointment for criminals. They would wander into our weird home and find that there was really not much worth stealing.”

Normand’s life was molded by living in a perpetual fixer-upper in a dodgy neighborhood in a wild city. “I reflected how and where I grew up since I was a mess in college,” Normand says. “I was flunking out of college. I was a rudderless alcoholic.”

Comedy saved Normand, who discovered that he was passionate about writing and rendering humor. “I ended up succeeding with a job that most people don’t look at as realistic,” Normand says. “But comedy is real. The jokes are the truth. The funniest stuff isn’t made up.”

George Carlin, Mitch Hedberg, Bill Burr, Greg Giraldo and Steven Wright are some of Normand’s comedic heroes. “All of those guys are comic legends to me,” Normand says. “George Carlin could do it all, social commentary, jokes. I’ve been into comedy ever since I was a little kid. I was a big Groucho Marx fan. He was the funniest, weirdest guy. Who would have ever thought that I would follow in their footsteps as a comic?”

Normand, who will appear Feb. 14-16 at Goodnight’s, is all about his stand-up. The gig is not a stepping stone to a sitcom vehicle or a film. “I have nothing against that kind of work,” Normand says. “It’s just that I like to focus on the stage.”

Trouble seems to find Normand. “It’s all true,” said Normand, who lives in New York. “I’ve had a lot of interesting stuff happen to me and still do.”

The exploits of Normand and his pal and fellow comic, Joe List, can be heard on their weekly podcast, “Tuesdays with Stories” (yes, it’s a nod to Mitch Album’s bestseller “Tuesdays with Morrie”).

“We talk about what happens to us,” Normand says. “It’s all about the stories. We record on Monday and put up the podcast on Tuesday.”

Normand recently bought an apartment in the West Village. “It’s the first time my parents said they were proud of me,” Normand says. “Life never stops in New York.”

It sounds similar to Normand’s childhood in which there was so much activity in the neighborhood. “That kind of living is fine for an adult but not for a kid,” Normand says. “I don’t want to say I have regrets about my childhood. All I know is that I like what I’m experiencing now more. I live in an adult city with an adult job. It’s the best job. Comedy is more popular than ever.”

Look for Normand on Conan O’Brien next month and his next album, “Out to Lunch,” will drop later in the year.

“I’m right where I want to be in terms of my career,” Normand says. “I’m going out there and playing cool rooms making people laugh.”


Who: Mark Normand

When: Feb. 14-16

Where: Goodnight’s, 861 W. Morgan St., Raleigh

Cost: $22 to $25

Info: 919-828-5233, goodnightscomedy.com

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer