The fury of Furry
For a local stand-up comedian, hard times and hippies make for the best jokes
Mike Furry made sure to get a good buzz going before we commence our interview inside the Towne Lounge bar in downtown Chico.
Furry’s uncompromising and brutally honest style of stand-up comedy has taken on Chico’s bars and open-mic nights for the past three years or so, and he’s also working on a screenplay that he hopes to finish this summer.
The 27-year-old Chico State grad blends in well at a bar. I’m not saying the man is an alcoholic, mind you, far from it—but an act like Furry’s is probably best enjoyed with a beer in hand and a good-natured sense of humor. His jokes range from bittersweet self-deprecating confessions, to dark irony, to ruthless hippie-bashing. A good time is had by all, except the uptight hippies. And perhaps teetotalers.
So tell me about this screenplay you’ve got going.
It’s a kind of a semi-autobiographical story about a guy who’s going through a rough time in his life, so his philosophy becomes that he’ll follow whatever advice he gets from fortune cookies.
Why did you get into stand-up?
I’d done it a few times when I was living in Oakland at open-mic nights with friends. When I moved to Chico, I was living with a girl and we went through a pretty nasty breakup. There was a little, mild nervous breakdown, and when I came out of it I was on stage and they were laughing at me.
Over the past three years I’ve kind of just developed it into a whole act. It’s kind of therapeutic. Anything that’s bugging me or anything that’s bad in my life, I turn it into a joke. That’s my Prozac.
At one point you did stand-up to pay the bills.
Yeah, there was a good six-month run where I was doing nothing but stand-up. I’m really bad with money. If I could budget everything well, I think I could do it.
I drove a cab for about a year, and I was a bartender for about six years before that. Actually, I get a lot of inspiration from bars. Most of my jokes are made here, I’ll just scribble them down on napkins. I also have a CD coming out from Dirty Mick Records. Hopefully they’ll book me enough so that I don’t have to work anymore.
What can you tell me about the Humboldt incident?
I went on tour last December, and we were in Humboldt and I was doing jokes about hippies. I find hippies comical, what can I say? There were a lot of hippies there trying to heckle me. There was one guy with his girlfriend; they were both trying to yell at me.
Apparently there were a lot of people I pissed off with that show, but other than that it was pretty cool because I ended up hooking up with the guy’s girlfriend.
Later that night we left to go to the next town. That’s my only rock star story. So I tell it a lot.
Can you give me an example of a hippie joke?
Hippies were following the Dead around for years, and then Jerry Garcia kills himself, and they stop following them … Cyanide capsules aren’t that hard to find, folks. Where’s your dedication?