Upstart Comedian Michael Schirtzer Brings it Home

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Michael Schirtzer

Michael Schirtzer is a relative newcomer to the world of comedy.

He spent most of his first 20 years of life in Malibu where he attended Webster Elementary School before switching to homeschooling when he decided to pursue an acting career.

His parents went along with it. Schirtzer spent a lot of time in auditions, and landed parts in commercials, the WB film “Funky Monkey” and various other productions. 

“I wanted to perform, and I wanted attention and the ability to take on characters,” Schirtzer said in an interview with The Malibu Times, “but after a while, I grew tired of the cut-throat culture.”

He did almost a complete 180, graduating from UCSB with a degree in history and pursuing a career in politics. Schirtzer worked in a city attorney’s office, and also as a campaign staffer and a campaign races. But something kept pullmanager in several local political ing him back to performing. 

He’d been doing slam poetry, where poets read or recite original poetry and are judged on a numeric scale by selected members of the audience. Today, Schirtzer is able to give impromptu slam poetry and rap performances on a moment’s notice. 

And the poetry was really what first got him thinking about comedy.

“Some of my slam poetry was humorous or had jokes in it,” Schirtzer said. “I do comedy raps all the time.”

Schirtzer made the big decision to quit politics and focus on stand-up comedy. “Politics is a lifestyle and comedy is a lifestyle, and they clashed,” he noted. “I wrote jokes on my phone for a year.” 

Schirtzer’s training included reading books about how to write jokes. “You learn how to construct a joke — the premise, then the punchline,” he shared.

About a year ago, he finally decided he was ready to go on stage and try his material in front of an audience for the first time. “I went to an open mic night and read the jokes straight from my book,” he laughed. “The host told me I had super strong writing, but needed to deliver the jokes without reading them.” Even so, during his three-minute performance, the audience had laughed at all but two of his jokes, and he was hooked. 

Since then, Schirtzer has been perfecting his craft, going to as many open mic nights as he can at the Flappers Comedy Club, the Karma Lounge and M.I.’s Westside Comedy Theater, as well as the weekly Roast Battle at The Comedy Store. He now gets “booked appearances” at clubs and landed a job with the “Jimmy Dore Show,” a weekly political satire radio show where Schirtzer writes and edits jokes, sketches and monologues.

Schirtzer is now bringing his comedy back home to Malibu. He hosted the first-ever comedy night at Malibu Playhouse last August, which was a complete sell-out and standing-room-only success.

He first got the idea to have comedy at Malibu Playhouse when he went to see Ed Asner’s one-man play last summer, and the actor injured himself and had to go get stitches.

“A hundred people were sitting there with no entertainment,” Schirtzer said, “And they threw me up [on stage] with no mic and I did 15 minutes.”

The first show went over so well that host/producer Schirtzer is bringing “Stand Up!” back to the Playhouse this Friday, Oct. 9 with a whole new slate of top-notch comedians.

The seven performers are mostly Comedy Store regulars. Headliner Ian Edwards, whose TV writing credits include “SNL,” was also the first comedian signed to Conan O’Brien’s new Team Coco label. Emmy Award-winning writer for “The Simpsons” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” and Malibu resident Mike Scully will make a rare special guest appearance.

“I’d love to turn this into a monthly event,” Schirtzer said. “I’d love for Malibu to have this so they don’t have to drive out of town to see comedy regularly. I want people to experience comedy from the comfort of their own community.”

For more information about Stand Up! visit malibuplayhouse.org.