There’s not much funny about a sales job selling retail packaging.
But Pat McGann liked talking to people. He got to travel. It was a living.
Until July of 2010, when he got laid off.
The timing was not great. His wedding was 4 months away.
So at 31, the Chicago native embarked on a new career.
He’d already been doing open mic shows. Now it became his full-time gig.
It did not take long to get gigs. The comedy community is very welcoming, McGann says. He became the house MC at Zanies, welcoming crowds and introducing comedians.
It wasn’t easy — 10 to 14 shows a week, 6 days a week. But he got experience. He loved it. And hey, it was a living.
McGann opened for Sebastian Maniscalco, including 4 sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden. He worked at Gilda’s LaughFest, the Great American Comedy Festival, the Nashville Comedy Fest and Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival
He was invited on the Late Show with David Letterman — twice — and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. His riffs on his wife, his kids and marriage were spot on.
Being funny on TV is different than on stage. “You’re set up for success,” McGann says — simply standing next to a late night host provides “instant credibility” — but the stakes are high. You better be funny.
Then came COVID. “It blew up our whole industry,” McGann says.
There was not much funny about the global pandemic. Still, people were desperate for laughs.
Comedy thrives on shared experiences. McGann helped audiences relate to what everyone was going through — virtually, of course — and made it through. Comedians like him helped us all.
There’s nothing funny about homelessness either. But that’s the hook for McGann’s upcoming appearance.
He’s the headliner for Homes with Hope’s “Stand Up for Comedy” — an annual (and very popular) fundraiser. This year’s event is October 15 (8:30 p.m., Fairfield University Quick Center).
“Comedy is a uniting force for good,” McGann notes. “This will be a night where people come together, have some laughs, and do something good for others.”
He’s spoken with Homes with Hope executive director Helen McAlinden. He learned about the non-profit’s many programs — the Gillespie men’s shelter and Hoskins Place for homeless women; supportive housing initiatives, and programs like Project Return — and is all in for the cause.
“This is why I do standup: to have people leave a room feeling better about things, after laughing for a while,” McGann says.
“Knowing that what they paid for goes to something good – those are the best kinds of nights, for all of us.”
(“06880” is sometimes funny, sometimes serious — and always, your hyper-local blog. Please click here to contribute.)