The veteran Tonight Show guest’s hilarious new album proves his love for women. But at the end of the day, he really just wants to tell jokes — and see some panties.
Mitch Fatel is a tired man, having spent the previous night at his sister’s suburban-New York house, rocking and cuddling his two-year-old niece throughout the night in a desperate attempt to hasten the end of her whooping cough. His voice is hoarse, and he’s a tad hungry. So moments after his first set of the night at the Comedy Cellar in New York City’s Greenwich Village, he digs into a giant bowl of hummus and sips a bottle of water at the adjoining Olive Tree Cafe. He’s a happy man.
“I think last night for the first time I learned what love is,” he says. “I was holding my niece and eating, and she sneezed on my salad twice. At first, it was just a spray, then a glaze all over the entire thing. But I still ate it. So I’m a good uncle, I guess.”
This is some adorable talk from a guy who spends most of his act discussing the joys of thongs, the way in which girls masturbate in the shower and his altruism when it comes to giving women orgasms in lieu of having one himself , as in, “Every girl that has sex with me is guaranteed to have an orgasm, or dinner is on me.”
There’s no denying that his material is x-rated. But his delivery allows him to get away with so much. Political correctness and sensitivity aside, Mitch describes his onstage delivery voice as “retarded;” in fact, he named his new album Super Retardo. In a sick way, it’s brilliant. He can ask the college girl in the front row to see her vagina — which he does — without her snarling back.
At times, he talks in a staccato monotone and peppers his lines with a slight lisp. He doesn’t move much on stage, he looks down a lot and, at 5-foot-5, he’s usually the shortest comic on the bill. He’s a young boy at the dinner table, testing the waters with new words and ideas, dropping “clitoris” here and there and waiting to see: Will my parents slap me across the face or continue carving up their pot roast?
THE TRUTH ABOUT MF
Born in Manhattan and raised in Yonkers, N.Y., Fatel (that’s FAY-TEL), grew up in a working-class family with his younger sister, Kaurie, and his parents Robert, a financial planner, and Michele, now a retired hairdresser, both of whom never supported his decision to make stand-up comedy his full-time gig. Instead, they encouraged him to go to college in an attempt to win a traditional nine-to-five. He eventually conceded when he majored in film at New York University. That lasted a year and a half.
Since he has found success — Mitch just bought his own place in ultra-trendy Hoboken, N.J., has been on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno 20 times and is a nationally headlining comic — his folks seem to have come around. “It has turned into, “We always knew he was funny.” But when I was a kid, they would tell me there’s no way I could make a living doing this,” he says. “They say they must have done something right. I can’t win! So that’s why I’m going to kill them.”
His parents did give him a shot at stand-up when he was 15, but only to “prove I couldn’t do it.” They brought him to a class that retired Catskills comedian Dick Lord ran out of his home, complete with a stage and microphone in his basement. Though the class was for adults, Lord was so impressed by Mitch’s jokes that he asked him to join the class. After a year and a half of comedy training and performing at the seediest bars in the area, Fatel took a long break from comedy.
At 21, with his resume beefed up with a few shows at NYC’s legendary Comic Strip Live — one killer set there appears as a bonus track on Fatel’s first album Miniskirts & Muffins — Mitch made it official. He came back to comedy. As it turns out, comedy was happy to have him. Fatel quickly found what he calls his “inner voice.” “I believe everyone onstage needs to find who they are, bring it onstage, and then magnify that,” he says. “Me offstage is more of a character. Onstage, that’s really me cut to the core. It’s who I always was and who I always will be. And maybe that’s what makes me able to exist in the outside world.”
“When people see Mitch live, they often think, What’s wrong with this guy?” says good friend and fellow comic Tom Papa. “I’ve known Mitch a long time and still haven’t figured it out.”
The truth is, Mitch is pretty normal, albeit somewhat obsessive about certain things, namely comedy.
Everything in my life has come down to a very strict routine,” he confesses. In the morning, Mitch jots down ideas on a yellow pad for 30 minutes. At night, he takes another 30 minutes to transfer those ideas to his Mac; this is where the jokes start to form. Then he performs them on stage.
But the way Papa tells it, Fatel is even more studious about the process. “The only thing Mitch does when he isn’t with a lady, is write jokes,” he says. “This bastard writes more than most comics I know, and it shows. Mitch is simply a brilliant joke teller. It’s more disgusting than what he says about panties.”
HEÃ¢â‚¬â„¢S ALL GROWN UP
Halfway through his hummus, Mitch drops a bomb: He has a girlfriend. It’s not a bomb because Mitch is some deformed monster with a shitty personality. The man is nice to look at. He’s well groomed, in shape and is friendly.
It’s just shocking because so much of his material deals with the pursuit of conquering multiple females. But Mitch is dead serious. She’s very beautiful and very young,” says Mitch about Jenny, his 19-year-old art-student/waitress girlfriend. “When we were first dating, she asked me what I saw in her. I said that she had the hottest ass I’ve ever seen. But after fooling around a couple times, I started realizing that I really liked this person. I changed my life for her. I became faithful. I really don’t want to mess it up.”
Clearly, Fatel has entered into a new phase of his life — one in which it’s not all about the nookie. “The most wonderful feeling in the world — better than sex — is writing a new joke and coming on stage that night to perform it, knowing that it only exists in the world because you wrote it,” he says.
The thing is, Fatel’s imagination is made of the hopes and dreams of every 16-year-old boy. So steady girl or not, it seems doubtful he’ll ever stray from his cool-awkward take on sex and the female form. In fact, it seems Mitch is set to make that material the vehicle with which he’ll rise faster than he has before; those first 10 years of slowly scratching his name into the national comedy scene are over. He’s a bit more Zen about the whole thing.
“I got into this to become very famous,” he admits. “But now, it’s more about the art and the joy of writing a joke and staying true to myself. I have a great life. I make a living telling jokes and, at the end of the day, people tell me how good I am. Where else can you find that?”
For more information, visit mitchfatel.com.