Free For All: How would you describe your stand-up style, and how have you developed it over the years?
Mike Rainey: I used to have a very over the top aggressive style that was phony and obnoxious. Over the years, I have gravitated towards a more relaxed style, focusing on personal stuff as well as public occurrences that I find absurd. I’m a lot more comfortable now than I was up to a few years ago. I definitely enjoy performing more now as a result.
FFA: You have a real gift for roasting friends and other comics where you can be brutally honest and hilariously funny, but the audience can tell it comes from a place of love. How do you pull off tricking everyone into forgiving you for being such a dick?
MR: I love busting balls and I love when other comics are tough enough to take a beating. Benny Michaels and Tommy Pope are two of my favorite people, partly because they have no problems pointing out my flaws. Some comics just get weird and clam up when I bust their balls and I hate that. Suck it up, pussies and give it back to me. Also, I have been fortunate enough to take part in a ton of roasts and I always relish those opportunities. A big part of that is because I love being made fun of by funny people. Brian Craig offered one of my favorite insults: “Mike Rainey has the emotional range of a pure bred puppy.” As far as getting away with ripping people, I feel like you can get away with just about anything if you do it with a smile. Especially grifting.
FFA: You do a bunch of charity shows, including your own Comedians for a Cause. Can you talk about what drives you to give so much for other people, how you started Comedians for a Cause, and what sins you’re trying to make up for?
MR: Honestly, I’ll do just about anything to help another human being or animal out. That is primarily because it makes me feel good. Every so called “selfless deed” is inherently selfish. Plus, I have a sickening desire to please others and make people like me. That stems from various stages of my life where I’ve been lonely. So, it’s a mixture of a lot of things, including wanting to fuck hospice patients.
FFA: Finally, how can people get on your group text message list for the jokes you write in the wake of national tragedies?
MR: If you’d like to become apart of my group text/tragedy list, prove how badly you want in by causing a national tragedy. However you want to go about it is entirely up to you, buddy. I’m not a tough nut to crack. If causing national tragedy isn’t your thing, Just text me at 215.789.5407. Be careful what you wish for though.
Get to know Mike even more by coming to see him perform on Free For All tonight at Rembrandt’s Restaurant & Bar (741 N. 23rd St. Philadelphia) at 8:00pm. You can also follow him on Twitter @mikerainey82.