Mike Lawrence has had quite the road to success. The former McDonald’s drive thru employee turned Conan and @Midnight veteran is perhaps most known for his title as champion of 2016’s Jeff Ross Presents: Roast Battle. Now, just two years later, the prolific stand-up comedian and podcaster is returning to the solo stage with the dual release of both a new episode of Comedy Central Stand-up Presents and an album on Comedy Central Records, Mega Manchild. Paste Assistant Comedy Editor Yusef Roach was able to share a few words with him prior to these releases.
Paste: You previously had another half hour on Comedy Central, so I’m curious; how are you feeling? Are you nervous, or is this just business as usual for you at this point.
Mike Lawrence: Well it feels good, you know. I can technically say I’ve done an hour now.
Paste: Ha, yea. So how long have you been working on this material in particular? It’s been about five years since your last release, right?
Lawrence: Yea, it’s been five. There’s stuff on here that I wrote, you know, a couple months after the first one aired, then there’s things I’ve wrote a week or two before.
Paste: Can you walk me through the day of your special? How long ago did you record yours?
Lawrence: December in New Orleans.
Paste: What did you do that day? Can you walk me through the day of taping? Are you the type that has any rituals or anything like that?
Lawrence: I don’t get as nervous. My wife was there, and we had a nice seafood dinner, and I watched the comic before me, Sarah Tiana, which was a fun Roast Battle full circle.
Paste: You also won Roast Battle, which has to be terrifying right? As a competition? A battle royale of insults. You’re also known for being a bit of a nerd, so where’d the mean streak come from? Are the two related? Being both a nerd and a vicious roaster?
Lawrence: Oh yeah. Go on Twitter. I mean, look at the Venom movie.
Paste: Haha, have you seen that?
Lawrence: I wish I got to see the movie that Tom Hardy thinks he’s in.
Paste: Are you a big Venom fan?
Lawrence: Yeah, I mean I grew up on that kind of stuff. I mean, I was a big Spider-man fan, and my brother was a big Venom fan, but I wanted my brother to like me, so I thought Venom was cool.
Paste: Anything for that brotherly approval! Back to your comedy: Your album is also coming out this Friday on Comedy Central Records. The name alone is hilarious, Mega Manchild. First off, who’s your favorite Mega Man boss?
Lawrence: My favorite Mega Man boss? I’m going to say the Gemini Man. I always liked him; his level’s really cool, he’s got that awesome laser, and the best special. I mean, I could tell you my favorite from each game if you wanted.
Paste: What kind of topics are you exploring in your comedy nowadays?
Lawrence: There’s some politics. I’m also trying to go deeper with self-deprecation, because I don’t think that’s ever going to go away, and I’m always going to hate myself. You know, just how the world changes. How we see ourselves, being married, thinking about having kids—the evolution, that’s the difference between now and then. For example, I talked about being alone, and now I’m not—it’s a different thing.
Paste: Do you think being (presumably) happier is affecting your comedy positively?
Lawrence: I think so, for sure. You can think about greater issues like the world and things like that, and you look at them differently.
Paste: How so?
Lawrence: You look at things a little more apathetically, at least I have. I’d like to hope I’ve grown and changed in the last five years?
Paste: Is the album material an expansion? When was it recorded?
Lawrence: The end of March. So there’s some overlap, but there’s other stuff too; it’s over twice as long so…
Paste: Oh, of course. Did you have the chance to go back and polish up some of the bits from the half hour for the album? Or is it an entirely different release.
Lawrence: Like I said, there’s a lot of what’s in the half hour, but about 30 minutes of new stuff too.
Paste: Last question. Do you remember your worst bomb?
Lawrence: It always changes. There was a couple years ago that I just couldn’t follow the opener. The opener killed so hard, and then I went out and the audience was just like “NO?!”
Paste: What do you think it was?
Lawrence: The crowd was clearly more into them. It was a fun “party” comedian, and then I went out like “Hi guys…” Halfway through my set, this table asked me to take a photo of them during the show.
Paste: Oh my goodness. Did you do it?
Mike Lawrence’s episode of Comedy Central Stand-up Presents premieres tonight at 11:30 p.m. ET/PT on Comedy Central.
His album Mega Manchild is out today on iTunes, Spotify and more.
Yusef Roach is Paste’s Assistant Comedy Editor and the cohost of the podcast Death is Imminent. He’s on Twitter @yusefroach.