The first time Andrew Michaan ever saw live comedy was as a local middle school student at the Telluride Comedy Festival. Twenty years later he performed as a professional stand-up comedian at the festival, what he called “a fun, full-circle milestone.” Now, as co-host of a popular podcast and with a recent appearance on “The Late, Late Show with James Corden,” Michaan is achieving success and building a fanbase as a stand-up comedian based out of Los Angeles.
Michaan spent his childhood in Telluride skateboarding, snowboarding and getting into “regular old small town hijinks.”
“I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not grown up in Telluride. Everyone there had an identity; not as a jock, a nerd or a cheerleader, but as Steve, Cynthia and Jessica,” he recounted. “Everyone is an individual so Telluride breeds cool people, which helped to shape my own creative pursuits because I felt like I was a unique person with my own perspective to share.”
Upon graduating from Telluride High School in 2005, Michaan attended Reed College, a small liberal arts school in Portland, Oregon, where he joined the improv team and gained critical thinking skills, which became important to his comedy because he could analyze ways people operate to establish “a take” on society, he said. He began performing stand-up his senior year at Curious Comedy Theater in Portland, which was the first step towards finding his creative voice.
“For me, that journey has to do with my perception of myself and my audience’s perception of me and what I can get across,” he explained. “It’s hard to describe my comedy but I’d say it’s somewhat intellectual, irreverent, and I like to trick the audience.”
Michaan lived in Portland for a few years after graduating college, working different jobs while performing regular stand-up gigs. A big shift in any comic’s career, he explained, is when people are willing to pay to see a stand-up perform.
“The first 10 years of doing comedy, you’re paid very little money to do it for people who don’t really want to be watching it,” he said with a chuckle. “You’re forcing it on people, and they’re often not into it and you get $20 or maybe one free drink.”
For the past eight years Michaan has lived in Los Angeles, working various entertainment gigs. For years he had a weekly stand-up show at Upright Citizens Brigade, he opened for bigger comedians on the road, he’s acted in TV shows (“Adam Ruins Everything” and “I Think You Should Leave”), he’s written for TV shows (“Magic for Humans” on Netflix), and he’s created his own TV show for which he shot a pilot.
“It’s very difficult to live one gig at a time,” he said. “Your success is often out of your hands because the right people have to say yes to you in order for you to get the job or act on the TV show.”
Three years ago that dynamic began to shift when he and fellow comedian Cole Hersch launched “Podcast But Outside.”
“For the podcast, we just set up a table on a sidewalk anywhere and interview strangers who walk by and we chat about different stuff,” Michaan explained. “It’s like giving a big platform to someone who has no clue that there’s a big platform.”
Recent celebrity guest appearances on the one-hour podcast include Adam Scott and John Hamm. New episodes are released every Wednesday on YouTube and on various podcast apps, along with teaser clips released across social media, particularly on TikTok, where the podcast has nearly 600,000 followers.
This fall “Podcast But Outside” also enjoyed a two-month U.S. tour, where Michaan and Hersch interviewed folks on the streets in various cities across the country.
“After interviewing their dream guest Jon Hamm on their 100th episode, Podcast But Outside has now set its sights on an even juicier white whale: doing live indoors shows!” the podcast duo shared in a news release announcing the upcoming plans.
“We did a live-show format where we’re in a theater and we send our intern — a weird silent character who films all of our episodes — out on the street with a cellphone and he goes live on Instagram and finds random strangers who are just walking around the venue,” Michaan explained. “And he invites them into the venue with hundreds of audience members chanting their names as they walk in and then we have a genuine interview with them.”
Michaan credits the podcast for building his fanbase, enabling him to sell hundreds of tickets for comedy club shows, make a living and garner a “bit of cache.”
Another big career break happened last month, when Michaan appeared as a guest on “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” an experience he describes as “nerve-wracking, exhausting and really exciting.”
Moving forward, Michaan and Hersch will continue producing “Podcast But Outside,” while Michaan hopes to keep attracting new fans by touring as a stand-up comedian.
“I’d also like to sell a TV show. I have a few I’ve written,” he added. “And I’d like to write for more TV shows. It’s all already happening and continuing to grow and that feels really good.”
For the latest information on Michaan’s comedy pursuits, follow him on Instagram (@andrewmichaan) or Twitter (@AndrewMichaan).