Comedian Mike Armstrong lets serendipity take the spotlight at most of his shows. When he recently walked onstage at a gathering of 300 psychiatrists and therapists, he might have sounded a little whacked as he simply went with the flow.
He posed a simple question to an audience member: “Why is it that people who think they’re invisible sometimes run around saying, ‘Look at me. Look at me’?”
“I don’t know,” the giggling woman said.
“Well, how does that make you feel?”
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The spontaneous spoof of counseling sessions drew laughs.
Armstrong, who has sold out a pair of 177-seat New Year’s Eve shows at Columbus’ YES Cinema the past two years, returns Dec. 31 with similar off-the-cuff humor for two performances with ventriloquist Bill McClain.
The pair also will perform at 8 p.m. Jan. 1 at the Fraternal Order of Eagles No. 741 in Columbus.
For those who’ve heard too many standup acts play off current presidential candidates or sexual humor, Armstrong could serve as an entertaining alternative.
“Nobody wants to hear all that,” he said.
In fact, Armstrong wins praise for audiences for his clean approach on families, including his own five grown children, his former police work, divorce, his mostly nondrinking ways and other topics.
Randy Allman of Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center, which operates YES, is a longtime admirer of Armstrong’s skill with his followers and fans. The funnyman has appeared on national television for “Oprah” and “Good Morning America” and has been a favorite on Indianapolis-based radio with “The Bob and Tom Show.”
“Mike really resonates with a lot of audiences and especially working-class people,” Allman said. “His stories bring such a sense of real life.”
Such as the time working as a police officer when he showed up at a scene in which a man threatened to jump off a bridge. Armstrong figured he needed to do more than beg the man to reconsider. So he got his attention in a rather unorthodox way.
“Before you decide to do something like jump, could you tell me where you work? You know, because my brother really could use your job,” Armstrong said.
The man grew so angry at such an inquiry that he argued with Armstrong until people could whisk him away and get the man help.
On stage, the longtime comic steers clear of such intense interplay. In fact, he makes such a point to warmly greet ticket buyers as they enter a show to be seated that he cannot recall facing hecklers. Ever.
“Even the guys hug me,” he said. “And everybody takes time to shake hands. When I’m up there on stage, I’m the happiest person in the world.
“I always just pretend that I’m standing in my driveway talking to my friends.”
Allman mentioned that YES organizers have little doubt that Armstrong will see another full house — twice — again this year.
What: New Year’s Eve YES Comedy Showcase with opening act ventriloquist Bill McClain and headliner comic Mike Armstrong.
When: Shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m.
Where: YES Cinema, Fourth and Jackson streets in downtown Columbus.
Content: Rated PG by organizers, who have seen Armstrong regularly attract families, teens and all ages.
Tickets: $20, available at 812-379-1630.
Who: Opening act ventriloquist Bill McClain and headliner comic Mike Armstrong.
When: 8 p.m. Jan. 1.
Where: Fraternal Order of Eagles No. 741, 930 Washington St. in Columbus.
Content: Rated PG by organizers.
Tickets: $20, available at the Eagles location.