When Mike Coletta started as a standup comedian four years he had the good fortune to meet veteran comic Kermet Apio.
Apio, a Mountlake Terrace resident, has been doing comedy for more than 20 years and has appeared on Comedy Central, A&E and National Public Radio.
“He’s kind of my comedy mentor,” Coletta said of Apio.
So when Apio approached Coletta about doing Laugh Out Loud, a comedy benefit show for the family of Mountlake Terrace football player Michael Hunt, Coletta was eager to help out.
Hunt suffered a severe broken leg during the Hawks’ first football game last September. Hunt spent four days in the hospital and continues to have physical therapy.
Apio, Mike Coletta and Robert Pidde will be performing at Laugh Out Loud at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 8 at Mountlake Terrace High School. Tickets are $20 (adults) and $10 (students, high school age minimum) will be available at the door.
For Coletta, Thursday’s show is a chance to give back to the community.
“I feel like when you do comedy you do it to entertain. It’s really for selfish reasons,” Coletta said. “You’re the center of attention. It feels good to make people laugh. In a charity show, it feels like you’re helping out, helping the family out.”
While some comedians were the class clown in high school that wasn’t the case for Coletta, who was more into sports. But when Coletta went to Washington State, he found himself drawn to improvisation.
He joined the Nuthouse Improv Comedy troupe and ended up performing with them for four years. He even was the director one year.
“I always wanted to try standup,” Coletta said.
After he graduated, Coletta did a show and he’s been on the stage ever since.
Much like his mentor, Coletta’s act is autobiographical.
“It’s personal. It’s all about my family, my hobbies, stories I tell from friends,” Coletta said. “It’s all drawn from life experience. There is some observational humor. I try to make it as much about me as possible.”
It took about a year before Coletta became really comfortable on stage and his improv background really helped.
Persistence is an important quality to have if you’re going to make it in the comedy business, according to Coletta.
“Comedy is a bunch of ups and downs,” he said. “You can have a really good show in a 900-seat theater. The next day you’re in a small town. You have no idea.”
During the day, Coletta works as a file clerk in a law office. The people at work have been supportive of him.
Comedy seems to be in his blood.
“I love doing the shows,” Coletta said. “I love writing my own material and seeing people hopefully react.”
Coletta is constantly writing new jokes and retooling jokes that are not working. Coletta might spend three or four months fine-tuning a joke.
“I love to try and make it work, to get it right,” Coletta said. “That’s what keeps me going. … There are so many good comics out there. This is what I want to do. I have to keep going.”
For more information on Thursday’s Laugh Out Loud Benefit show at Mountlake Terrace High School, check out the event’s Facebook page.
– By David Pan