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Mike Santo frequently visits two different worlds: he can be found standing on the nightclub stages on a Saturday night, then in front of a Sunday school class the following morning. But he has managed to blend the two materials into a unique and hearty schtick that is gaining in popularity. After moving to Southeastern North Carolina from the Hudson Valley in New York, he began working in Leland and took interest in the oldest, largest civic organization in the area: the Wilmington Rotary Club. This is where his journey into comedy began.

1- He Studied Stand-Up to Overcome Fear of Public Speaking

When he joined the Wilmington Rotary Club, the current president asked him if he wouldn’t mind filling the vacancy for the following term in the upcoming year. Santo said yes, “but I was really concerned because I would have to lead the meetings each week, and I was deathly afraid of speaking in public.” In order to get over this anxiety, he searched for a public speaking course, but he found most of them would cost upwards of $2000 a pop. He was relieved to find a stand-up comedy workshop offered at Cape Fear Community College for the reasonable price of $100. He says, “The class’s final was a five-minute set at an open mic, so I wrote some jokes, which were terrible. I think the audience laughed one time during the set, but when it was over, the owner of the club told me to keep writing and keep coming down.”

2- He’s a Christian Comedian

He teaches Sunday school and lives the gospel, so he finds it can be motivating to be both a Christian and a comedian. In fact, some of his best material is inspired by what he hears in a place of worship. “We sometimes have to run our jokes past the pastor of a church so they can tell us which jokes we can use,” he quips.

At the Gateway Church, audience member Lisa Young watched Santo deliver his hale and hearty comedy for a Valentine’s event. She left a review for his event: “His interaction with the audience was great, his material was clean and funny, and everyone who attended has raved about his performance!” Beth Pence, who also enjoyed the performance, added: “My friend was sitting with him and just assumed he was an officer friend of someone’s at the table, so when he stood up to do his performance she was shocked. I really liked that he hung out too. He didn’t just come in, perform, and leave. He sat at the table with some law enforcement families, afterward he talked to lots of different people.”

Mike Santo Comedian
Mike Santo performs live for the Gateway Church’s Valentines Event – photo courtesy of Clean Getaway Comedy

3- He Helps Save Lives

Working as a paramedic and firefighter for Leland Fire Department can be difficult, but he finds that on the back of an ambulance, having a good sense of humor can be valuable. “Sometimes a really tense situation can be made less stressful with a little laughter,” he says. “It can backfire, though—I once told a patient that the line at the emergency room was so long because people are dying to get in.” The patient took what he said literally, though. “I had to calm her down – not the best situation.”

4- Actually, His Children Write All His Material

If his jokes bomb, he can blame the kids. Santo is married with three children, and he finds his inspiration in Dad jokes and those silly things children say that everyone loves. “My kids can take most of the credit for my jokes – when they say something funny, I just write it down,” he says. “The challenge is to try to make it as funny as it actually was in real life. I always stayed clean because I knew that one day my kids would have access to YouTube and I might have to explain somethings I didn’t want to explain.” If his kids do google him, they can find his straight and humorous material here.

5- He Has Big, Big, Big Popsicle Dreams

He absolutely knows that one day he will see his witticisms stamped out in a factory on the backs of little wooden sticks. “My dream has always been to write a joke that appears on popsicle sticks, and I think I have one (and its Christian):  ‘At the first Christmas, how did Mary know how to rock the cradle correctly?  It came with Emmanuel.’”

You can catch Mike Santo performing at comedy clubs around town in Myrtle Beach, North Brunswick, and Wilmington, but if you would like to book Mike Santo for an event, you can contact Clean Getaway Comedy or mikesanto76@gmail.com

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Allison is a writer and English instructor living in Wilmington, NC. She moved to Nags Head, NC from Delaware in 1996 to attend community college. Then she moved to Wilmington to attend UNCW, where she graduated with a BA in English in 1998, and an MFA in poetry in 2001. While at UNCW, she wrote and edited for the Seahawk and performed at poetry slams. Over the years, she has written for NBM, StarNews Media, Encore, the Pender Post and CitySearch.com. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry East, Cobalt, Fjords, Lilies and Cannonballs, The Oklahoma Review, Scissors and Spackle, and The Lyricist. Her one act play, Heathens, was produced by Big Dawg Theater Company at Thalian Hall, and she wrote and performed with the all female performance art troupe Brawdeville from 1999 to 2003. After spending time on stage, she switched gears and taught English full time at Southeastern Community College in Whiteville, NC. She now works at Cape Fear Community College as an adjunct English instructor and a writing facilitator in the Writing Center. In her spare time, she performs with her husband, Carl Kruger, in the sound art troupe 910 Noise. She has a kind, smart and beautiful 14-year-old stepdaughter, and a 14-year-old tortoiseshell cat named Zoe Mushka, aka Mooshy.

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