Michiana comedian to visit Morris Performing Arts Center

Published 3:39 pm Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Photo Credit: Neil Visel - Taken behind the famous Hollywood sign with the city of Los Angeles in the distance.

Photo Credit: Neil Visel – Taken behind the famous Hollywood sign with the city of Los Angeles in the distance.

When America’s favorite “fluffy guy” visits the Morris Performing Arts Center Oct. 26th, audience members will be treated to an opening number by a Michiana native.
Lance Patrick Midkiff was born in Elkhart, Ind. before moving to Florida with his family when he was six months old. Though he was young when he left the area, Midkiff said he traveled to the Michiana area frequently to visit grandparents, aunts and uncles who pastored churches in Elkhart and surrounding cities.
“I’ve had quite an amazing opportunity to travel all over the world performing standup comedy opening for the popular comedian Gabriel Iglesias, among many others,” Midkiff said. “But one of the shows I’m most excited about? South Bend, Ind. Oct. 26th. I get to come back to where my heart started beating and perform in Indiana for the first time.”
Midkiff’s journey to stardom was not a traditional one.
“I worked in artist management for six years in Nashville, and one of the bands that we managed, Hawk Nelson, they had an opportunity to go out to L.A. to be in a movie. They were working 16-hour days, and that’s not like the band gig,” he said. “One of them was just exhausted and said, ‘I’m tired and don’t want to be here.’ In that moment, I realized I’m not going to help someone else pursue drams that they don’t care to pursue, but I would love to try it and pursue my own.”
So Midkiff moved to Los Angeles to try to start an acting career. He was unable to afford acting classes and realized that watching and being around standup comedians was a good inexpensive alternative.
“I didn’t necessarily know I wanted to be a comedian. I liked goofing off, but I didn’t know how to get into (being a comedian). I’d done a lot of comedic acting, but I didn’t know how to get into standup” he said.
His first job in the comedy field was at the World Famous Comedy Store, a comedy club in Hollywood, which is owned by Mitzi Shore, a famous comedian. While at the World Famous Comedy Store, Midkiff saw comedians like Chris Rock, Robin Williams and Gabriel Iglesias perform nightly.
“When I got into L.A., I realized it was way too expensive to live, so I decided instead of acting classes I would go to the Comedy Store,” he said. “The funny thing is they wouldn’t hire me at the Comedy Store because I wasn’t a comedian.”
The Comedy Store is what is known as an “artist colony,” where only artists of that trade — in this case, comedy — are permitted to work at the business.
“They turned me down, and on the way out, he goes, ‘you have a nursing assistant background?’ So they hired me because Mitzi Shore, who was getting older, needed a nursing assistant. They hired me to move into Mitzi’s house and take care of her. The only catch was that she wouldn’t accept help from any nursing assistants, only comedians. So we had to convince her I was a comedian.”
Unlike most comedians who get their start in the industry by performing in small bars and nightclubs until finally being recognized by an agent, Midkiff’s first time on stage was in front of a crowd of 2,000 people.
He had begun working with Iglesias in late 2009 as his director of online marketing. After a few months on tour, Iglesias challenged Midkiff to try standup comedy, and gave him two weeks to write and practice a set. Then, on March 13th, 2013 Midkiff performed his very first set at Hard Rock Live in Orlando, Fla. “with a surprisingly successful outcome,” according to his web biography.
Midkiff said he has performed in crowds as large as 5,000 a night in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, most recently opening for Iglesias’s 16-city European tour where performed in front over 25,000 people throughout the UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
In his first two years as a comedian, he performed for over 100,000 people, opening for various comedians in addition to Iglesias, including the legendary Louie Anderson.
Lance makes his television debut on Comedy Central in January for the third season of “Gabriel Iglesias presents: Stand-Up Revolution.”
Midkiff is a very proud Elkhart native with family ties to Niles and South Bend.  His grandparents owned the Collins House of Music on U.S. 31 in Niles for several years, which currently houses a Dish Network service.
“It’s funny because my grandparents were ministers, and they steered me away from L.A. for so long. That’s probably why It took me so long to get there. But all that matters is that I made it out to L.A. and found who I was,” he said.
In preparation for his show at the Morris, he had a ‘Made in Elkhart, Indiana” t-shirt made and did a photo shoot with Neil Visel behind the famous Hollywood sign with the city of Los Angeles in the distance (featured on the cover).
“And you better believe I’ll be wearing it onstage October 26th,” he said.