Chico’s resident comedian takes off to explore the world and his funny factor
The comedy scene in Chico is about to get a little quieter, now that local funnyman Mike Furry is graduating from Chico State and ready to skip town for greener pastures.
“I love this town so much,” he said in a rare moment of seriousness. “The people in Chico have been the best.”
Despite what images his name might conjure up, Furry is not a furry man. His head is shaved (most of the time), and although he recently bought a suit, the 28-year-old from Quincy seems most comfortable in a sweatshirt and shorts.
He’s been a regular performer around Chico for years, especially at Off Limits and Lost on Main. And he’s been a regular patron(izer) at the Towne Lounge, where there’s even a drink named after him (OK, he named it after himself)—it’s called a Furry Bomb. His comedy CD, which has switched labels and hence isn’t available yet, was recorded at Off Limits, and he was going to name it after the venue, “But now I think I’m going to name it Live in Chico, because most of the energy on it is because of Chico,” he said. “You can hear it on the recordings—it’s just fucking awesome.”
Furry moved here in 2001 after a couple of years studying and working in graphic design in the Bay Area. His comedy career started one night in Oakland, on a dare. He was out with his punk band (he’s a musician, too, ladies), and it was open-mic night.
“It just clicked,” he said. “It’s like going to therapy without having to pay anyone—they actually pay me.”
His mom and stepdad still live in Quincy, and his father lives in Durham, with his wife and her girlfriend. He said he gets a lot of his material from his family dynamics. And you can blame his grandmother for his outspoken nature.
“My Grandma Golda inspired me—she’s the one who taught me to say whatever I wanted,” he said. “She’s my hero.”
As much as he loves Chico, freedom calls, and it’s inviting Furry to Hawaii, Los Angeles, all over the South and eventually Portland, Ore. Oh, and there might be a quick trip to Iraq—if all goes well.
“I really want to stay in one of Saddam’s palaces. I want to steal something from Saddam,” he said, eyes wide with excitement. No, he’s not planning to join the military. He was invited to go on the USO tour a few months ago—the trip, which starts in May, would take him to Japan, Germany and the Middle East—but he’s been wading through the red tape.
“Apparently I’m not really a red-tape kinda guy,” he joked. His back-up plan, for which he is also jumping through hurdles, is to spend six months in Africa, volunteering for the Red Cross. He has become quite passionate about the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, so he wants to help out in Chad. This mission would be one of aid, though—not comedy.
Yet another opportunity comes in the form of an audition in L.A. for a sitcom. “I guess I’m perfect to play the kooky neighbor.” And if all else fails, he said, he has a degree—in international relations and Asian studies, from Chico State—so he’ll have something to fall back on.
“Right now, I’m most excited about not knowing what’s going to happen,” he said. Comedy, of course, is his passion. He has shows booked in Kauai, Hawaii; North Carolina; Austin, Texas; and Miami. Then he plans to join the Portland-Seattle-Canada comedy circuit.
“Apparently I’m huge in Canada,” he said, referring to the number of Canadians who have joined the Furry Nation (his fan club, which is actually his friends list on MySpace). “It’s kind of sad, really. Being huge in Canada is like saying you suck everywhere else.
“Actually, though, a lot of people in Iceland and Japan like me, too.”
With 705 members, he’s not doing too badly.
“When I started the Furry Nation, the name was a joke,” he said. “I didn’t realize that there was a group of people out there who dress up in animal costumes and have sex with each other. They call themselves ‘furries.’ Now that’s fucked up.”