The South Beach Comedy Festival is celebrating its 10th year, with shows at the Fillmore Miami Beach and its smaller Gleason Room Backstage. And while most of the headlines are reserved for the superstars of the main stage — Bill Burr, Hannibal Buress, Dave Chappelle — there’s a definite must-see show Saturday night in the Gleason Room: Michael Yo.
America knows Yo for being a regular on E!’s Chelsea Lately and co-hosting The Insider on CBS, but Miami holds a special place in its collective heart for the self-described “half-black brother with a Korean mother” because of his weekday afternoon-drive shows on Y-100 (WHYI-FM).
Here are some excerpts from Yo’s talk with The Miami Herald.
On what inspired him to try stand-up:
Funniest story: I was on Chelsea Lately since it started, for seven years. And about three years into the show, I tweeted out, not even thinking: “Hey, I get asked to do stand-up all the time — I might try it.” And so the next day on the show, [host Chelsea Handler] goes, “Ohh, so you’re saying that it’s so easy to do stand-up that you can just go up there and do it — it’s just that simple?” And I go, “Well, it doesn’t look that hard. You know, you just talk.” And all the comedians on the roundtable were like “Whooaaahhh!!” So Chelsea said, “You have one week to do stand-up.” So I went to Miami, and I did it at the Miami Improv, which now I find out was one of the toughest clubs in America before it shut down. And I did 15 minutes my first time up and fell in love with it.
On what fascinates him about pop culture:
Just take the Kardashians: Everybody has an opinion, they make $65 million a year from all the products they sell. People hate ’em, people love ’em, people are on the fence about ’em. And it’s funny how people can invest themselves in other people’s lives and really care about it. I know the Kardashians — when they did Khloe and Kourtney Take Miami I was Khloe’s boss on that show. And to see Khloe get basically hate-tweets, hate-Facebook messages saying she looks like a man, etc. — it’s almost like fans get invested in their lives, but they treat them like they’re not human, like they don’t have feelings. Everybody’s default is, “Well, they make a lot of money, so it’s OK.”
What’s so alluring about that family?
They are what they are on TV. One day, I had to be on one of these Real Housewives show’s red carpet, and one of the housewives said, “I don’t wanna talk about the show.” And I’m like, “Well, what the f--- are we gonna talk about, then?!”
On why he sticks to entertainment news:
I would hate to do real news, because it’s so depressing. Real journalists look down on entertainment news people, but I don’t wanna knock on somebody’s door and say, “Hey, did you know the kid who just lost his life?” That’s not what I wanna do. I’d rather be like, “Look at Lindsay Lohan. Driving drunk, again!”
On joking about celebrities when he works with so many of them:
I think I’ve built up some great relationships with celebrities, but I do talk. Of course, it’s not dogging them. For example: Katy Perry farting when I thought she was about to hit on me. She asked me if the cameras were off … and then she let out the biggest fart I’ve ever heard in my life. So I do talk, but they’re funny stories — they’re not mean-spirited.
On culture shock when he moved to Miami from Texas:
My first day, I ordered three drinks, and they were like, “Sixty-two dollars,” and I’m like, “Wha-a-a-t?!” Because I moved from Austin where it’s like $3 a drink. That was when Crobar was big. I was like, “I only ordered three drinks!” They were like, “Yeah, I know — $62.” But Miami is really the place that put me on the map, where people were like, who’s this Michael Yo guy? That’s how I got myself at E! and then to Extra and now at CBS, and things are just going well. So I love Miami with all my heart, and I can’t wait for the show.
Michael Yo performs at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Gleason Room Backstage at the Fillmore, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; LiveNation.com; $20-$35.