“Permission to Speak”

by The Cowl Editor on October 10, 2019

Arts & Entertainment

Comedian Paul Mecurio  ‘82 Jokes & Connects with PC Community

by Brenna O’Leary ’20 A&E Staff

Horizontal Picture Paul Mecurio Homecoming Weekend

“What was I doing, Judy?” Paul Mecurio ’82 asked again and again the night of Friday, October 4.  Mecurio shared his life story and some jokes with the members of his alma mater as one of the first events that kicked-off Providence College 2019 Homecoming Weekend. Known for his appearances on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, HBO, and Comedy Central, as well as his Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing for The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, the alumnus had the audience in stitches. 

Mecurio’s stand-up is unique in style: instead of focusing simply on the skits he prepared, he made a large portion of the night interactive. He picked unsuspecting people in the audience to participate in his show and supply material for his jokes. Mecurio chatted everyone up, making fun of one man’s face, another’s jacket, and snapping photos of audience members. Judy, an audience member with her husband at PC for Homecoming Weekend, was one of many who were called out during his show. He even managed to use his humor to convince an audience member to give him a free office chair. Mecurio’s dynamic wit and flare for comedy manifested in his desire to connect with the audience.    

For every joke about an audience member, Mecurio was able to relate it back to the complexity of life and his own intriguing story. Mecurio’s skits revealed that he grew up in Providence—he teased many Yankees fans—and that his parents own a furniture store in North Providence, which is still run by his mother. He met his wife, Carol, his senior year of high school, and they have a son. He went to PC as an accounting major and graduated in 1982. Mecurio then proceeded to go to law school. Afterwards, he wound up working as a corporate lawyer on Wall Street. So how did he become a comedian?  

Mecurio’s outlet while working on Wall Street was to write jokes down, and one day he started selling them to Jay Leno. When describing the moment he realized he wanted to make a change, Mecurio said, “This joke grabbed me…this box that I seemed to have been watching my whole life filled of people’s voices…suddenly it was filled with my voice.”

His act also included his written skits. He poked fun at corporate lawyers who, as Mecurio put it,  “practically kill kittens…[but] would outsource the job.” Mecurio shared a story where one of his first shows involved a bar fight among members of the audience and ended with a fellow Wall Street lawyer’s comment that gave him the punch line: “I know how to get blood out of a Brooks Brothers shirt.”   

Currently, Mecurio has a hot  new act on Broadway that is going on the road—“Permission to Speak with Paul Mecurio.” In an interview after the Homecoming show, Mecurio revealed that when writing new material, he tries to avoid the traditional; instead, he opts for making connections. Mecurio mentioned that “There’s a method to the madness….art can transport you, make you look at things differently.  And stand-up, if you’re doing it right, can be art. We need to connect more.” Through wit, humor, and great conversation, Paul Mecurio was able to do all of that for the audience in Mullaney Gym.