- Associated Press - Sunday, August 13, 2017

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Need a smile? Follow New Orleans native Mark Normand on Twitter. His feed is filled with observational humor, brief insights into the mind of a comedian as he works through his material.

On Tuesday (Aug. 15), Normand, who lives in New York and has gigs booked every weekend into 2018, is heading home to perform at One Eyed Jacks in the French Quarter.

If his name doesn’t ring a bell, that may be because, like Harry Connick Jr., Ellen DeGeneres and even Aaron Neville, Normand had to leave New Orleans to make a national name for himself.

Not, he said, that he’s in those stars’ league. He’s describes himself as a working comedian, who found his passion and, wonder of wonders, is making a living at it.

“No prophet is accepted in his hometown” might lurk in the back of his mind, but if you’re a comedy fan, Normand likely is familiar to you. He’s made numerous TV appearances on shows like “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” ”Conan” and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

His one-hour “Amy Schumer Presents Mark Normand: Don’t Be Yourself,” premiered on May 12 on Comedy Central. He opens regularly for Schumer, including her May 24, 2015 show at the Saenger Theatre.

He has guested on “Inside Amy Schumer”; warmed up crowds for Louis CK; and headlined at the Joy Theater here in 2016.

Normand may live in New York, but he describes himself as “New Orleans born and bred.”

His mother is Liz Williams, director of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, and his father Rick Normand, is an attorney here.

“It’s actually my dad’s 70th birthday on the 18th,” he said, noting the reason for this trip back home. “And my friend, who I went to De La Salle with is now the booker at the One Eyed Jacks, and he said how about doing a show?”

Tuesday’s shows will be fresh, he promised.

“I just put out the one-hour special in May, so I’m trying to do all new material,” he said. “I’ve got a new 20 to 25 minutes since the special came out. And, I’m going to do a lot of local humor, obviously, because I’m from New Orleans.”

After plugging away at clubs around town, such as the Gold Mine and Howlin Wolf, Normand moved to New York in 2007 to attend film school, and to work the circuit there.

And, there he has found a healthy helping of success.

“Film school was fun, but I noticed as I was doing stand-up at night, that’s what really grabbed me. I thought I was looking for my passion, but I was actually finding my passion onstage.”

Normand, 33, lives in New York full-time in an apartment he actually likes and can afford — a feat documented by The New York Times.

He’s grateful to be making a living in a field that has “what is it 98 percent failure rate? It was a gamble.”

Also, he notes, “I got a couple of breaks.” He met Schumer, for example, when the two of them were doing stand-up in clubs.

“I really just hit the ground running because I have zero self-esteem,” he said. “I have no visions of grandeur in my head. I worked as a janitor, furniture mover and construction worker. And I think that propelled me to work hard and that got my name out there.”

He also gets his name out there by being on the road near-constantly, and co-hosting a weekly podcast, “Tuesdays with Stories,” with New York comic Joe List that attracts about 60,000 listeners each week.

And, he trusts his audience to help him be funny.

“I bombed heard last night,” he said on Wednesday. “It really crushed me again. For the most apart, (audiences) tend to be honest. If it doesn’t work, then it is on you and you have to go back to the laboratory and work it out.

“There’s no fake laughter,” he said. “It’s like that friend who never compliments you so when he does you know it really means it.”

That’s part of the reason Norman shares his humor on Twitter to get that honest feedback.

“If people really like (a Tweet), then I might bring it onstage,” he said of the jokes. “It’s like a little focus group.”

“And, it’s so worth it when it works well,” he said. “It’s like when you finish a crossword puzzle. You get that word, and now you can fill in another letter and another box and then you say, ‘All right, I nailed it. I can do it.”

He describes himself as an introvert.

“A conversation at a cocktail party is more of a challenge,” he said. “That’s all off-the-cuff. With standup, it’s strangers. I’ve prepared my act, my routine. For me stand-up is way easier.”

Mark Normand

What: The New Orleans native, who recently had a one-hour special, “Amy Schumer Presents Mark Normand: Don’t Be Yourself,” on Comedy Central, bring fresh material to his hometown. Must be 18 or older.

Where: One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St.

When: Tuesday (Aug. 15) at 9 p.m. Doors open at 8.

Tickets: $16 advance at oneeyedjacks.net; $20 day of show. See where he’ll be next on his website, marknormandcomedy.com

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