Detroit’s Sal Demilio is a national headliner and performs regularly at top clubs, including Zanies, The Funny Bone, Hilarities, Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle, and The Laugh Factory. Sal has performed with names like Dave Coulier, Dave Attel, Kathleen Madigan, Nick Dipaolo, Lewis Black and Bobby Collins. We asked him a few questions…
1. How do you describe your comedy?
I would describe my comedy as a mixture of all the crazy happenings of the last 20 years I have been doing it. I really do talk about my life along with some topical humor that I fit into the act along the way of the core material. Some of my core material involves my Italian upbringing, relationships, technology, and cars; everyday activities and self-deprecating humor.
2. How did you first get into comedy?
I actually took a class at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle in Royal Oak and never looked back. I enjoyed it right off the bat. Because I enjoyed stand-up for years as a fan. My comedian friends Bill Bushart (who actually made me take the class with him) and Rob Little are both doing very well and they were in my comedy class that summer.
3. Who were some of your comedic influences? What was it about these comics that you admired?
I liked all the usual great comic legends you know but the ones that I could not wait to watch were. Rodney Dangerfield, Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Ramano, George Carlin. I admire the way they all went down different paths of comedy. They each had there own styles and they worked.
4. How has the Detroit comedy scene changed during your time in stand-up comedy?
The Detroit comedy scene has changed because clubs have closed but there are more comedians in Detroit than I can remember. There are a ton of really strong young comics in this town and there starting rooms to show there craft because you can only go up at Mark Ridley’s or the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase so many times. We had those types of bars and little hole-in-the-wall gigs to but we also had the full-time clubs as well. I’m sure the 1980s was the best time to start but the late 90s was really good as well.
5. In addition to performing in clubs, you do a lot of corporate work for companies like Ford, Home Depot, and United Way. What should up-and-coming comics know about corporate work?
Corporate comedy is about the customer and not your act or your message. That’s why there are many comics who can’t or won’t do corporate shows. You have to be clean and likeable. If you can learn some info about the company and its staff you can incorporate that into your performance and the audience usually love that stuff. Your making your show about them and keeping the client happy. Corporate work also pays more than clubs. Its really good to be able to do both in this business.
6. You also do voiceover work. How did you get involved in that side of the business? How does it compare to performing stand-up?
The voiceover work came when a friend of mine got me involved in doing some radio commercials for some golf resorts. I did the radio commercials for all of the resorts up north one summer. I did them like Tim Allen does the Pure Michigan ads and I enjoyed doing them. I sent those out to agencies and have done a few minor local radio ads but I keep working it to get more work. Its another way to get exposure and earn a few bucks.
7. What advice would you give to aspiring comedians?
I get asked this often. I always tell them to go up on stage as often as you can when you start. You need to hang out at clubs and get yourself known in your market as a comic who is serious about it. there are comics that want to do it once a month because they’re busy and their girlfriend gets mad at them for hanging out at clubs and doing comedy. You can’t half-ass this and expect to get better. Don’t do it for the money at first. When you get better the paying gigs just start to happen.
8. What are you working on currently?
My calendar of booking! The only thing true stand-up comics give a shit about is filling up there calendars with gigs. I still use a day planner that I track my gigs on with a pen. I don’t use my calendar on my phone. I guess that dates me as a comic. I have some exciting dates coming up actually. I’m going to be at the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase August 5th & 6th and Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle September 16 through the 18th. I will be at The Holly Hotel in Holly on December 9th and 10th. I have been performing at all three of these clubs for 20 years and they’re all great clubs.
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