Paul Mecurio: From Wall Street to The Daily Show
The name Paul Mecurio might not instantly ring a bell, but you have no doubt been privy to his comedic stylings. The writer and standup comedian came into comedy not through extensive improv training but a career on Wall Street. What started as a comedy habit quickly turned into a double life, and now Mecurio is a full-blown comedian.
The Emmy-winning writer cut his teeth working for Jay Leno before nabbing a coveted seat in The Daily Show writer's room. Now as a traveling standup and host of his own podcast, The Paul Mecurio Show, this guy is showing no signs of slowing down. Mecurio is the audience warm-up comic on The Colbert Report and The Daily Show, and lucky for us, he set aside some time on the set of Colbert to chat about his big career swap, why The Daily Show keeps creating stars, and scoring an interview with another more musical Paul.
New Times: Which do you think is better? Somebody getting all of their news from a show like The Daily Show or somebody getting no news at all?
Paul Mecurio: Oh definitely The Daily Show. It's real news and then we spin jokes out of it. It's not like we have any topics that all the other outlets don't have. It's just we are cutting through the b.s. and saying "doesn't this sound like nonsense to you?"
People who start out as a correspondents on The Daily Show are becoming huge stars. Steve Carell, Colbert, Ed Helms, even Rob Corddry. Why do you think this keeps happening?
Well, those guys are heavy cocaine users, so they give cocaine to the producers, and we hire them, and that's really how that works. No, I'm just kidding. I think when a show is hot, anything that comes out of that show at that point in time is on everybody's radar. And they are all really talented people with diverse improv or acting backgrounds, so they can handle acting. I think it's not just the show but combined with those particular performers coining a point of view on the show.
They certainly came from different comedy backgrounds, but you kind of came in a totally different way.
Yeah, I was working on Wall Street doing merger and acquisition deals. Then I started making some short films when I got out of law school and I got to lie and say I was sick and take three days out at shoot films around New York City. And then I started to write jokes and I saw Jay Leno perform at a private function and I gave him my jokes and he called me a couple days later and said, "I want to start hiring you for The Tonight Show monologue." Then a week later, he bought one of my jokes for $50, blew my head off my shoulders, and I started to live this secret double life where I was a lawyer by day and comedian by night.