An (almost) annual tradition: Ex-cop comic ready for his sixth New Year’s Eve here in seven years

Ex-cop and current comic Mike Armstrong swears he would never cheat on wife Petra, also a former officer, whom he married earlier this year.

“Because she’s a better shot than me,” he quipped.

The 69-year-old Louisville resident will take aim at a myriad of everyday topics when he returns to Columbus for his sixth New Year’s Eve comedy doubleheader in seven years on Dec. 31. Most of his shows at YES Cinemas, 328 Jackson St. downtown, have sold out the 177-seat venue.

He did a 400-seat, sold-out show in 90-degree Port Charlotte, Florida, last New Year’s Eve — the first time he was anywhere but Columbus on such a celebratory night since 2012. He mentioned that he hardly knew what to do with himself, especially since he generally stands at the YES doors before each performance here in Columbus and greets people by first name.

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He did that so smoothly in 2017 with Petra alongside that she finally asked him at one point, “Is there anybody here you DON’T know?”

Actually, Armstrong is so adamant about feeling like family amid YES’ holiday crowd — “It’s generally most of the same people every year” — that, in 2015, when he became intensely ill before the shows, he went onstage anyway and told the audience his predicament, and that the shows would go on as planned.

That is, if they would allow him quick sick breaks each time he held up his finger and politely left the stage for a minute or two. Ticket buyers encouraged him to do whatever he needed to make it through and exercised patience.

“How many places are there where an audience would let me do something like THAT?” Armstrong asked incredulously, speaking by phone while driving to a corporate show in Athens, Georgia.

Diane Doup of the local, nonprofit Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Center that organizes and benefits from the comedy shows, remembers Armstrong’s 2015 appearances.

“He not only committed to doing both shows that night, but he gave outstanding performances — even with standing ovations,” she said.

His career blossomed years ago when he became among the best-known, veteran favorites of radio and television’s nationally syndicated “Bob & Tom Show” based in Indianapolis. He still refers to his Louisville home as “the house that Bob and Tom built.” Through the years, he also has appeared on virtually every major network comedy show.

But he regularly views his audiences as more than ticket buyers.

“Someone said, ‘Man you’ve got a lot of fans,’” Armstrong wrote on Facebook a few weeks ago. “’No, I have a lot of friends.’”

Randy Allman of the neighborhood center thinks of Armstrong as family.

“Mike resonates with audiences because he is incredibly authentic,” Allman said. “He’s a true professional and literally one of the funniest men doing comedy. (And) Mike is more than an entertainer. He’s a throwback to all the great comedians of yesterday.”

The stand-up performer is known for his clean, generally PG-rated humor. He mentioned once that he visited a restaurant late one night after a show, not fully aware that a Civil War re-enactment group was decked out in period uniforms at a nearby table.

“The service in this place must be awful,” he said to them. “How LONG have you guys been waiting?”

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What: New Year’s Eve YES Comedy Showcase with standup performer Mike Armstrong.

When: 7 and 9:30 p.m. Dec. 31.

Where: YES Cinema, Fourth and Jackson streets in downtown Columbus.

Tickets: $20 in advance at yescinema.org or at 812-379-1630 or $25 at the door.

Information: 812-379-1630 or yescinema.org

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