World Peace…Through Laughter?
In this episode Heather sits down with comedian Michelle Tomko and has absolutely no weed. They talk about what is like being a gay woman working as a comedian in Atlantic City, and about a project Michelle just completed called “Yo 11”
Michelle Tomko 0:00
When you go to see a comedy show, you usually have three people: you have a host, and a feature act, and the headliner or maybe you have four people. And when men are trying to get on that show, they have a chance to fill one of each of those four slots. Okay? You know a guy can get any of those spots but if a girl gets on the show. I don’t have a chance to get one of those other three spots because they won’t have two women on the show you very rarely see two women on a ticket.
Heather Warburton 0:28
This is Wine, Women, and Revolution with your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio.
Hi, and welcome to Wine, Women, and Revolution. I’m your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio. You can find us online at www.njrevolutionradio.com, follow us on all the social medias and get us wherever you get your podcasts from. Today we’re actually going to do something a little A bit lighter than usual, but it’s still going to be kind of a deep dive. I have an extremely funny woman who cracks me up every time I get to hang out with her, in the studio with me today. So first, I want to welcome you back to the show. Michelle, Tomko.
Michelle Tomko 1:11
Hi, Heather. Thanks for having me. It’s good to have you back again.
Heather Warburton 1:15
The last time you’re on people really enjoyed it.
Michelle Tomko 1:17
Heather Warburton 1:17
You definitely came as like a little moment of lightness after I did have a fairly dark interview right before yours. So a little bit of a moment of lightness.
Michelle Tomko 1:25
It seems like I’m the human interest story at the end of the newscast after all the beheadings.
Heather Warburton 1:34
And here’s this nice person doing nice things.
Michelle Tomko 1:38
I’m creating change through laughter not as much protest protesting. I also want to let your audience know that that is not me chewing on a bone. Thats your lovely dog.
Heather Warburton 1:50
She’s lying by the way. She totally is chewing on a bone.
Michelle Tomko 1:53
As we get started. I heard crunch crunch crunch. Oh my great.
Heather Warburton 1:56
She is chewing the bones of her enemies.
Michelle Tomko 1:58
I don’t want to get fat shamed. Like I was eating popcorn or something and being rude on your podcast, like, Can she just stop eating for 20 minutes? It is your dog. I’m gonna take a picture, I’m gonna take a picture of her.
Heather Warburton 2:13
The puppy chewing on a bone. But you know you… you’re a comedian by profession.
Michelle Tomko 2:18
Heather Warburton 2:19
And your job is you make people laugh for a living. And I think it’s a fair thing to say that it’s a fairly male dominated industry.
Michelle Tomko 2:28
It definitely is.
Heather Warburton 2:30
And I wanted to talk a little bit about that because that is something that I’d like to talk about and you know, feminism and all that. What does it really like being a woman exceeding and excelling in this very, almost toxic masculine at times, environment that you can find yourself in?
Michelle Tomko 2:47
So there’s a lot of answers to that.
One is just starting very basically, the energy of stand up comedy is very male. You say when you come off stage and you’ve done well, you’ve killed or you murdered, or you slayed. Go get them. Go for the throat. It’s very aggressive. So I guess. Don’t write in. I mean, I know women can murder people as well. But you know what I’m saying in general. It is that sort of violent, you’re going off to war, you are kind of you get set up backstage like you’re going off to war. Like you got to get them you got 10 seconds to kind of get their attention and command the room, command the space and use that mic, as you know, that’s your sword and shield and spear when you’re up there, so that’s from the jump. It’s not a community oriented thing. It’s you. You and them, you and them and then you hope to all come together but it, you know, can turn into you against them. If you say the wrong thing, and then it’s you know, especially in today’s kind of climate, you can lose half the room like that. It’s amazing how quickly you can lose half the room. Politically, if you talk about anything, and doesn’t matter what side you’re on, because there’s comics on both sides of the coin.
The other thing in terms of men versus women is there became this wives tale that women aren’t funny, you know, women aren’t supposed to be funny or speak up or anything. You know, back in the day, and then that kind of just morphed into “Women aren’t funny”. “Women can’t be funny”, and then it morphed into I heard a local radio guy say something like, I don’t understand female comedians, he said, and then his producer, you know, chimes in and says, Yeah, I don’t really under understand them either. And then it that’s such a terrible thing to say on many levels, because then he’s immediately insulted all females and all males because he’s saying that males aren’t smart enough to comprehend the jokes, right? And then he’s saying that, you know, he had just disparaged it like that these women can’t have this particular skill. So that’s just terrible on all fronts. But that is the thing that keeps going so much that it was even a South Park episode, you know, where Cartman was like, come on, man. Everybody knows that, like women aren’t funny. And that was the running joke throughout whatever the episode was about. But, you know, everybody knows that.
That was my Cartman. If anyone needs me for voiceover work.
So I wonder what everybody listening to now that they’ve turned off the show becuase of me doing impressions. Enjoy whatever Weeds rerun, you’re watching I guess , if you’re one of Heather’s followers.
You know, there’s a lot going on and I try to just keep my Joan Rivers mantra going because when somebody asked her, is it harder for women to be a comedian? She said, Listen, it’s hard for comedians who aren’t funny, or whatever she said. So I just like, just she didn’t have it in her view, her field of vision, and that kind of stuff really didn’t happen to her. Because she, for a time, if you are old enough, you may might not be old enough to remember but you know, she used to when Johnny Carson would go on vacation. She’s the one that hosted the Tonight Show. Okay, Johnny Carson didn’t even want to let female comedians on the show. And then let alone sit in the chair and host you know, there’s never really been a major female nighttime talk show.
Heather Warburton 6:51
Right? Yeah, I was just thinking about that, that I can’t really think of any.
Michelle Tomko 6:56
There hasn’t been any. Yeah. So hopefully, you know, we’re moving, you know, towards that. Tiffany Haddish or somebody will get in there. I know that there was talks about having someone on I don’t think it started yet and I don’t think it’s on a major network. I know I read an article about it so it’s either about to happen or happened and maybe it’s on a net cable network or something but at least a woman’s hosting late night. So all that’s going on and you’re battling I think I might have said this to you before, but like, when you go to see a comedy show, you usually have three people: you have a host, and a feature act, and the headliner, or maybe you have four people, and when men are trying to get on that show, they have a chance to fill one of each of those right
Heather Warburton 7:38
Michelle Tomko 7:39
Now if you put a woman on the show, which it’s a lot of women don’t ever get to headline. There’s a lot of women that are better than the men that are are headlining after them.There are a lot of clubs will say I don’t, and I know that there’s clubs even in New Jersey because I’ve heard it, I don’t let women headline
Heather Warburton 8:00
Michelle Tomko 8:02
But anyway, going back to the spots, you know, a guy can get any of those spots. If a girl gets on the show, I don’t have a chance to get one of those other three spots because they won’t have two women on the show. You very rarely see two women on the ticket. In fact, when I opened for Dina Blizzard, she was like, What are you doing here? Like they never have two women on a ticket. I asked if I could open for you and then they put me on. And you know, it was at a club in the city that’s not there anymore. So my chances are just less you know, I mean, a guy has a chance of getting four out of four slots, I have a chance of getting one out of those four slots. And if there’s another woman, I’m out. And sometimes I’m just out all together because it’s you know, some kind of sausage factory bachelor party festival thing that they just wouldn’t put a woman on. So, you know, I mean, I didn’t get a gig last summer I heard for the booker was advocating for me to do this festival and the, you know, producer who’s very well known, like, you know, No, she’s not funny. Women aren’t funny, that whole thing you know. I was the best person in the city really to have that job because it was going to be a lot of crowd work and stuff that I specialize in that people who follow me come to see me for. People who don’t come to see me that know me locally Atlantic City for my, you know, well crafted material, which I have, but they come to hear me make fun of them. They’re offended if they’re left out of the show,
Heather Warburton 9:29
If you’re not making fun of them.
Michelle Tomko 9:32
They want to be in the show, and they want to hear all the crowd work and that’s what people like the best. So it’s just, it’s difficult and you’re just never going to get. And lastly, it’s just like anything else. You know, I might look like a third grade teacher that was mean to this person who books this club but I’m never going to get in there. It doesn’t matter if I have six Emmys or whatever it just, I’m gonna bug them or rub them the wrong way. Or, you know one joke can turn them. But that’s for men or women too, you know, right if you if you look like my, you know, ex boyfriend and you’re not getting on my show because screw him and everybody that looks likes him.
Heather Warburton 10:14
Do you do political stuff? You were talking about losing the audience when you’re doing if you do something that’s too political. Do you mention political stuff that may.. or things that may have been politicized that really even aren’t political?
Michelle Tomko 10:26
I do rarely and I’m ashamed to say it is just a confidence thing because I feel like I’m not…I mean I feel I need to know from every which way because people are so defensive about it nowadays. I need to know every fact and feel like it’s too time consuming
Heather Warburton 10:46
It’s like a research project instead of a joke
Michelle Tomko 10:49
And then if I get into it with somebody in the audience, I gotta be ready with the comebacks I got to know my stuff. And, and then to what end? I’m going to argue with this guy for five minutes of a 12 minute set or 25 minutes set and then be, you know, upsetting or not being entertaining to the rest of the people, so I just kind of stay away from it. So some of its just a little bit of laziness because I just feel like I’d have to know. You know, it’s like when you’re battling like Bible quotes with people like you need to like Leviticus…blah blah blah.
You know, I don’t know, that kind of stuff to get into a battle with people about that. So I do a couple little dumb Trump jokes just just like you know, I hope he doesn’t rename The Grand Canyon The Bigly Hole. Like that
Heather Warburton 11:40
Kind of a low hanging fruit as far as Trump goes.
Michelle Tomko 11:44
This stuff that everybody can laugh at, just to touch upon and and i if I’m, I’ve done a couple political things for Republicans. Little fundraiser, a couple of little fundraisers and I y’all I’m so glad that you know, the this republican had me had me in because the the democrats checks never clear or whatever, you know, like the democrats can’t afford me. Like really just stupid cocktail party stuff.
Heather Warburton 12:11
Michelle Tomko 12:11
Right yeah cocktail party so because you want to be current, but you just I’m telling you that you just it is 50/50 with these audiences it’s just literally a 50/50 split around our area here in South Jersey. So you’re just gonna not make half of the room laugh if you made fun of any anybody. Right? You know, you could make fun of Nancy Pelosi people could we could potentially have people walking out you know, I get screamed at for the Trump people or groans when you talk about Bernie or it’s crazy. So if you don’t know if you’re not Bill Maher, I don’t know why you would be doing it or Louis Black.
Heather Warburton 12:20
That’s not your schtick specifically that you focus on.
Michelle Tomko 12:54
Also remember that the gigs that I do at the VFW. They’re trying to throw money at the toys for tots things, and have a couple beers and go home they’re not coming for a speech you know? I mean I have to also do my job you gotta get your 20 bucks worth of laughs. When I do other things, and and on thepodcast and you know in in real life I try to live well and live my values and my Facebook page has my political opinions on it. Things like that but not the show, like the show they gotta laugh, You know. I try and teach them something. I’m more trying to teach them with an LGBT bit that I do is really my teachable moment in my life. And a lot of times I have to gauge whether that’s going to go over like sometimes it goes over sometimes it doesn’t. You got to read the room. But the joke is you know, I don’t really get I don’t need all these liberals helping me with this gay thing. Like when I first signed up like, you could get married, you couldn’t get pregnant, you can’t go to church, you couldn’t join the army. And no one in your family spoke to you again. That is the point! That’s why you sign up to be gay! You know, and that’s nice. People come up to me and say, I never thought about it that way. It’s a whole bit which you can see at MichelleTomko.com, so it’s that’s teachable moments people go you know, college guys like high five me like “Dude, that was so funny”. And then parents came. Mom came up to me in a college gig in Ohio and was like, I never thought about it that way.
That’s, you know, that’s what you want to hear. I never thought about it that way. So that’s where I found my little teachable moments. I get everybody to like me, and I’m just like this nice little chubby person making fun of this and that.
Heather Warburton 14:47
That was kind of where I wanted to go next is you know, things are rough, like, you know, times are not easy for people. Does that make it harder for you to craft material? Or does it make it easier for you to craft material?
Michelle Tomko 14:59
There’s a lot of material. My friend, Zack, who’s a comic had the best one liner to me of the night of the election. He just said, All comedians are secretly happy, right? And he’s right because I mean, there’s there’s a wealth of material there. But, you know, you got to get people to listen to you, you got to get people to like you, and it’s not you know, they’re not hiring you to teach you something or they’re not coming to a political rally. So you just have to be fair to them. You can’t do a bait and switch. You can’t charge somebody 20 bucks to see frozen two and then you know, you just start playing reefer madness, whatever, you know, they’re like, Hey, I came to see frozen to why am I watching reefer madness? Do you like how I’m tying in the weed thing.
Heather Warburton 15:51
I gave her some flyers for our event before.
Michelle Tomko 15:55
All weed, all the time.
Heather Warburton 16:00
We arent even doing the wine thing this morning.
Michelle Tomko 16:05
And you know what’s ironic? I have no wine. I have no weed. I have been offered ice water and the dog hasn’t even offered to let me have some of the bone. Um, but you know, there’s always there’s always gonna be something to make fun of, there’s always going to be a way to see something in a different way. And, you know, I like when people come out to me. I like when people come out to see me. Even supporting live comedy is just hard right now. Because there’s 5000 channels that you have, there’s a million podcasts you can listen to and people are just lazy. And it’s when it’s raining, the shows are not as well attended as when it’s nice and sunny outside. Because it’s like, I got my jammies and just watch 10 episodes of something on Netflix. You know, the struggle is real for all live entertainment.
Heather Warburton 16:58
Right, but you think too people need it more than ever now. They need someone that’s going to make them laugh and possibly feel a little bit better. Like, you know, I’m a fairly intense person and even I can’t be intense all the time. You know? Sometimes I’m gonna watch Netflix like yesterday I was watching A Christmas Prince on Netflix.
Michelle Tomko 17:16
Okay, your Christmas movies. Do you watch lifetime movies?
Heather Warburton 17:19
No, no, woman being kidnapped,
Michelle Tomko 17:22
Or the Hallmark Channel. You don’t watch them
Heather Warburton 17:24
No. No. They’re really not like my thing
Michelle Tomko 17:27
The funniest thing happened last week. My friend Joelle was, she loves those and she’s fuzzy slippers and she gets her blanket and she watches the Hallmark ones. And I stopped over and she was watching a Hallmark one and said, Oh, I don’t want to interrupt your movie. She’s like, No, that’s okay. We can talk a little bit. I’m like, you know, just so you know, they end up happy and in love at the end. And then we were watching a commercial and it was like Christmas in Montana and she was like, oh, a new one. And I’m like, it’s not a new one. It’s the same one that we just watched except the guy’s gonna have a cowboy hat.
Heather Warburton 17:54
They’re all like a girl from the city is going to be unfulfilled. So she goes to the country and now…
Michelle Tomko 17:59
Valerie Bertanelli in the most challenging role of her career, it was just super funny. But it’s just like, you know, a Christmas miracle. Like the miracle is he comes back from the army and they fall in love and like, you know, and this time he has a cowboy hat on. But it’s gonna be the same. A Christmas puppy. I don’t know how but somehow people fall in love at the end. I don’t know.
I don’t like those kind of things. That I mean, I really like the surprise factor. I really like to flip the script. I’ve always saying the younger comics, flip the script on it. That’s that gay marriage thing because a gay comic is going to get up and Trump Trump Trump and talk about being the same and being and you know, so to get to meet people where they’re at. To meet this like blue collar couple that’s when I’m gonna say like, I’m not for gay marriage, either! You’re not doing me any favors, like leave me alone. Like I had it together. It was awesome, like, whenever my girlfriends wanted to settle down, I could go “But it’s illegal”. That was great. And then like the guys are laughing and the women are laughing and it’s like I’m meeting people where they’re at.
Heather Warburton 19:00
Michelle Tomko 19:01
When you do it like that, and then you know, maybe get someone thinking, or at least say that I’m cool. I proposed to my girlfriend on stage back in May.
Heather Warburton 19:10
Michelle Tomko 19:11
Thank you. At a bar show. So like a no cover bar show that I do at Bourre in the city. It’s a Cajun restaurant in Atlantic City. And I do a show there once a month, so there’s no cover. So inevitably, there’s some people that are just coming in just trying to get a beer. Some people come to watch the show. It’s kind of like a noisy Coyote Ugly situation. That is good Navy SEAL training for a comedian. So this guy comes up to me it’s like an urban guy, you know, just tall, lanky not like a comedy fan or anything. Like he was just there having drinks and he came up to me afterwards. He’s like, yo, I dont know a lot about this. You know, I’m saying but like, you cool. That was cool. And he gave me like a fist bump. So he’s probably I was probably first like lesbian proposal I would imagine that he’s heard. But he made a point to come up after tome like I didn’t go up to him or bump into him or, you know, let him use my cigarette lighter or whatever. He just made a point to come and say that so it’s like how else would that connection ever been made? or How else would he have been thinking?
Heather Warburton 20:16
You may have been the first gay person he’s ever had a conversation with possibly.
Michelle Tomko 20:20
Yeah. You know or or the other way that his brother’s gay and he hates him and maybe and that brought him around or something you know, I don’t know. You never know how you affect people bumping into him or not. That was not me with this squeaky toy either. Just so you know.
Heather Warburton 20:34
She has a weird a selection of stuff with her today. She’s chewing on bones. She has a squeaky toy.
Michelle Tomko 20:41
Never work with children or animals. That an old theater thing like never work with children or animals.
Heather Warburton 20:50
My show would not be my show without my puppy occasionally coming in and interrupting. She’s very political. Puppies are great for politics. You take them out somewhere canvassing with you. And everybody like kids come over to pet the pup, the cute puppy. And then the parents are kind of like kidnapped and they have to like, talk to you while the kids are petting the puppy. So you can like start telling them about, oh, I want you to do this or do that. And the kids were like, Oh, cute puppy and the parents are trying to pull the kids away.
Michelle Tomko 21:16
You’re right. It’s the same. That’s the same thing that I was trying to describe. And you described it better. Yeah, I mean, you have to when you’re doing the stand up, you have to get just people to like you and then you can sort of, you know
Heather Warburton 21:26
Have you tried bringing a cute puppy on stage.
Michelle Tomko 21:29
I don’t know I mean, you I don’t know if it would translate but it works very well with you.Single guys do that, don’t they? They go or vice versa, or same sex don’t write in. I feel like you’re, I feel like you have people that listen and write in saying I was very offensive. So don’t write in. I’m old and leave me alone.
Heather Warburton 21:58
And if you write in I’m probably not giving it to her anyway
Michelle Tomko 22:03
But you’re right, yes, you have to find like the cute dog like I say something else in my routine. So I say who’s been married longest? Or sometimes people have anniversary? It’s a 40th anniversary. Anybody else been married the longest time who’s been married longest? Oh, congratulations. Everybody claps and I go well clearly you believe in same sex marriage. And sometimes they make side eyes because they don’t. So I’m like, Well clearly you believe in the same sex marriage because after 46 years, it’s the same. And then everybody’s like it just you’re just flipping this thing. You’re giving them imagery that they don’t always see. Their hearing words and phrases that they don’t like to use or hear but they’re hearing it in a different way and I think it just all it all slightly helps.
Heather Warburton 22:43
Like aversion training, you know, like, if you’re afraid of snakes and they like show you pictures of snakes and then like, that’s like a psychological thing.
Michelle Tomko 22:53
And I’m big about meeting people where they’re at I you know. This guys said to me is like, I don’t like when this guy you know people come in and a guy refers to the other guys his husband. And I ask why not? It’s like, I don’t know, it just bugs me and then everybody, they want to go at him at this dinner party. And I’m like, hang on, like, I think it looks weird when I’m watching a movie, and two guys are kissing too. You know, and I’m gay. Like always. Like goldstar lesbian, you know, gay, So it’s not anything to do with me being homophobic. But I haven’t seen that. I’ve seen hundreds of thousands or millions of imagery of, you know, Fred and ginger dancing. And practically zero images of two women dancing or two guys dancing or two guys on top of a wedding cake like practically zero. Its got to be 100 to one that just images that you’ve seen your whole life so like, it’s going to take everybody a minute to get with that.
Heather Warburton 23:55
So you think people will get there eventually.
Michelle Tomko 23:58
I don’t know.
Heather Warburton 23:59
Are you optimistic?
Michelle Tomko 24:00
I mean everything’s kind of slowly changing but you know the pendulum just swing so wild with the “they/them” pronouns and stuff that there’s gonna probably have to be a couple generations that need to die off.
They just that’s just too offensive. My one friend said to me I’m like, I’m not offended cuz I’m homophobic, I’m offended because I’m an English major. I can’t I just can’t do it.
You gotta meet people where they are now. You can meet people where they’re at politically and stuff, too. I mean, you just can’t. You can’t battle with people, you got to try to find empathy. And it’s hard. It’s hard to find empathy. You know, the steel worker finds a hard to find empathy with they/them pronouns and I find it hard to have empathy for, you know Christians kind of, who say Trump is defending their values and stuff. When he knows he’s not even even just being like a womanizer. Just I mean, he’s broken a lot of the 10 commandments, right.
Heather Warburton 24:58
Right. It’s like a checklist of things he’s done like, Oh, I broke that one and that one.
Michelle Tomko 25:02
I went to Catholic school for 12 years so he has certainly broken a bunch of the 10 commandments and it’s like, we can’t, I I know that they don’t mean that or or think that. They just like that he delivered the supreme court justice.
Heather Warburton 25:17
Right, its very sort of superficial and shallow
Michelle Tomko 25:21
Yeah, exactly. No, They don’t even believe it but that they say it is just difficult for me. And then, you know, because I think of all the nice little old Catholic ladies that I know that knitted me things when I was a child. And it’s like, you know, there’s so many other people that they could put up on that pedestal to defend the values that are not all bad. And it’s disturbing to me that it’s that is this guy because I just don’t like when things aren’t fair. And I don’t like when things are just, you know, you don’t tell me the sky is purple. Right? And so that kind of stuff just really is an Achilles heel for me. That lying and unfairness about things
Heather Warburton 26:04
That hypocritical, you know, say one thing and do something completely different.
Michelle Tomko 26:09
Exactly, um ,you know and I’m guilty I’m human and I’m guilty of it. I’m a hypocrite about a lot of things I’m sure. You know, my feet sweat, I have leather shoes on, but I will, you know.
Heather Warburton 26:20
Are those two things related?
Michelle Tomko 26:22
I’m Just saying I’ll break in, if I thought you were abusing your dog I would break into this house when you weren’t home. Because if I would call the authorities if they didn’t do anything I would break into this house and probably take her out of here. But then I have leather shoes on you.
Heather Warburton 26:35
Michelle Tomko 26:36
Every everybody is a hypocrite about everything is just kind of trying to find your way and that’s what’s good. By having a sense of humor. You have a good sense of humor because you are always giggling and laughing and stuff when we talk.
Heather Warburton 26:46
I”m just high you know.
Michelle Tomko 26:47
Yeah. Okay. I also want to point out that Heather has a prescription for her highness. You know, it’s all on the up and up. Legal, don’t come bursting in here.
Heather Warburton 27:03
Michelle Tomko 27:07
And just take me out in cuffs, cuz it’s like you know, and again, I just ice water. God, I gotta get a better agent or contract. I go to a weed show I should at least get weed. There’s 150 bottles of wine in here by the way. This is like the nicest podcast studio I’ve ever been in. It’s like a little bed and breakfast. I’m in the wine cellar podcast room.
Heather Warburton 27:29
But so the next thing I did want to get to was the last time I had you on you were talking about the art scene in Atlantic City that you’re also involved in.
Michelle Tomko 27:36
Heather Warburton 27:37
And there’swhy you were here? You were likehaving like selfies where people dress up as famous paintings before. What was that?
Michelle Tomko 27:44
That is what my project in 48 blocks and I didn’t get to do 48 blocks this year. Of courses there’s fouty eight blocks in Atlantic City. So they call it that. The Atlantic City arts foundation does a festival every June usually coincides with the solstice. It actually started because a couple of citizens started the solstice parade and then it morphed into the Atlantic City arts foundation where there now this year will start to have three employees with salaries you know, livable salaries. Modestly livable salaries please donate to the next city arts foundation so I don’t have to buy lunch for these people because I can’t afford it.
Heather Warburton 28:24
Becuase you’re a woman comic and that you’re probably not getting paid as much either.
Michelle Tomko 28:28
That..maybe… I dont know I get paid so low I can’t imagin. I’m in the these these bar gigs.
Heather Warburton 28:38
You’re charging dozens of dollars for your appearance.
Michelle Tomko 28:40
I don’t know, I don’t know how much more the men would be getting. If they’re getting more I’d be surprised there’s so little there’s such narrow margins. I want to say since I’ve started producing the shows there’s such narrow margins. I don’t I don’t know that I’m getting paid less. I hope not. I never thought about that. Thanks, Heather.
Heather Warburton 28:55
I totally ruined the comedian. She’s got a gig tonight. And she’s here like, so everything’s terrible now.
Michelle Tomko 29:00
So now I’ll go to a Christmas party. I’m going to Christmas party tonight. So I’ll cheer back up later tonight, but yeah the Atlantic City arts foundation is great. And then that was really started by my friend Darryl Volatize wanted to have a Solstice parade. Weird! I went to my friend Whitney Allman. They sort of got this parade off with citizens and now there’s a board of directors and it’s everything’s great. They do this festival. And mine was performance based. So I dressed people up as the Mona Lisa and took their picture and you know, just a bunch of little famous paintings we all did. Tableaus. It’s French. I didn’t get to do anything this year because I got a fellowship. I’m also a fellow, I got an Images and Voices of Hope Fellowship this year, and I completed my project. And I did a performance at Dante Hall. I did a bunch of interviews of random citizens. I called it yo 11 because that’s a gambling term for craps. Okay, and it’s a gambling term you say Yo before you bet 11, so that the croupier doesn’t think you meant seven and it puts your money on the wrong number. So if you want to bet on seven, you say, put this on seven and then when you want to bet on 11 you go “yo 11”. If you didn’t know.
Heather Warburton 29:28
I did not know this.
Michelle Tomko 30:17
So I interviewed 11 different people, and I reenacted them on stage like Anna Deavere Smith does all the time. And there’s an HBO special, if you want to check out kind of what I did, I kind of did what she did, and I had hours and hours of tape and I just, I just found random people. And it just recently happened to me, you know, just completed this project, and it’s going to affect me. I think in my work. Everybody had a story. I didn’t try to do demographics, for demographics sake, like, you know, I’m sorry, to the Asian population. I didn’t have like an Asian person or a Muslim person. I just, I kind of got who I got. I was looking for people that were doing good things in the city, because the fellowship was about restorative journalism. How are people helping after a tragedy? You know. So the story isn’t that your house burned down,the story is what you do after your house burnt down? Well, when you you moved in with your parents and you, you know, your mother, her cancer went into remission because you were doing all these great holistic things with her and stuff is restorative journalism. That’s what Images And Voices Of Hope teaches journalists. I went to trainings and then I found people. I found a guy who’s really struggling with his recovery, but he’s also helping people and when I was interviewing him, we were on the boardwalk and he got up and he likes it hang on I got to talk to this guy. Yo man Leon. What’s going on like you know I can get you into recovery I’m and you know connected with enlightened I speak at all their events, man call me I’m serious, man. Get off the street. Michelle, meet Leon. You know, look at these pictures. He’s such a great artist, and he’s doing that all really he still the shakes and only in recovery himself.
Heather Warburton 31:57
Right he has his struggles but he is putting others first.
Michelle Tomko 32:01
Its been a year, you know, come on Ray Ray, you can make it. If he makes it to January 5, I think he’s a year and a half in. But I had him and then you know, I had a Angela Burton, who’s a singer, just some some old timers, really historians of Atlantic City. So you know, I just had these loving people who’s so random. And you could really just throw in a dart, you know, at the house maps and just whoever you got would have a story, they’d have a great story, I’m sure, Heather, how you got to where you are, I mean, just learning that everybody has a story. I think it’s something that I’m going to do every year. And I’m actually going to do on Leap Day. I’m doing a.. I’ve got a cut about a half hour off of it. So I’m going to make everybody shorter. But I’m the headliner for the Leadership Studios Gala at Gateway Playhouse. The tickets are 50 bucks, but I think there’s there’s wine and food involved in your $50 and I’m going to be the headliner doing this 11 Production again. So it’s February 29. If anybody’s interested in that, or you need to throw money at a good cause. Are you familiar with the leadership studio?
Heather Warburton 33:07
No, I’m not.
Michelle Tomko 33:08
So leadership studiostarted about three years ago. It’s Alan Dunsey. And Kathy Whitmore, they’re partners in a yoga studio in Philadelphia, their partners with Grace and Glory Yoga in Northfield, and those are paid profitable businesses. And they opened the leadership studio and on Tennessee Avenue, like right in the hood, and they just had free yoga Saturdays. They do free yoga right on the courthouse. When people come out of their court cases they can get to do yoga on the steps, when weather permits, like just getting people right when they’re maybe vulnerable. Or at their bottom where they can ask for some help. And they now have changed the policy to the leadership studio is literally pay what you can and I mean there’s a jar. There is not anybody with any anything in your face or forms to fill out or anything, it’s pay what you can if you can. So you can literally go every day, twice a day, three times a day for free to yoga for the leadership studio, and it’s just a it’s just a goodwill service that they’re providing. And they’re having their big, big fundraiser. So it’s just a great place to support. They’ve also trained a bunch of people in yoga. You know, to become Yogi’s? I guess you’d have to certified teachers right, they’ve paid tuition for certain people for certifcartion. I’ve been there to yoga class when literally someone is clearly maybe high or just trying to quit. Like Hi, I just you know, I’m finally made it here today and great. Great! Let me get you a mat.. Like it’s just crazy hippies running around giving free yoga to people and I’m happy to support it. So I’m going to get to get a do over for this, this Yo 11. But um, you know, I think it’s something that I’m going to do every year and get into that kind of storytelling biz.
Heather Warburton 34:56
That sounds really awesome.
Michelle Tomko 34:58
It really went well. I mean, the community, they really came behind you know. I had food and sponsors and Mark Kalasa over at his you know Tennessee Avenue places brought out, Rhythm and Spirits brought food and made chocolate, they made a big tray of brownies which I don’t know what they put in them there. I don’t usually go bananas like about desserts. This all my ring around …my keg around my tummy instead of a six pack it’s more about jalapeno poppers then chocolate brownies.
Heather Warburton 35:36
But these were good brownies
Michelle Tomko 35:37
Really good. I mean, I had sponsors and people kept saying I laughed, I cried, and it’s just this really community
Heather Warburton 35:45
I can see it on your face. It really moved you like, you know, getting into this work definitely.
Michelle Tomko 35:50
And it did. really to do something meaningful and sort of really made it. I did have a singer so obviously she’s in the press, Angela Burton because she has a CD out and stuff. But I was trying to find people that aren’t in the paper. More that you wouldn’t know there were two people that I didn’t even identify because of the work that we’re doing. There’s a priest that just kind of needs to be more on the down low. And then of course, I didn’t want to out the man in recovery, who just got out of prison, and someone else talked about their recovery from alcoholism. And let me use her first and last name. And I was really proud of her about that. Like she said, No, tell it. Let’s do it. It’s part and them. She told me that and thanked me and said it was part of her process to recovering, telling the story to me, which just, you know.
I’m not big on feelings. I was like, I thought she was gonna be a light hearted interview. She was just one of these yoga hippies, who was my friend and then it ended up being something really deep. And she told me, she said, and I’m like, Oh, that’s why you were so loving and that’s I didn’t I just didn’t put it together. I mean, I had seen her times like oh, Jill’s feeling no pain tonight, but it’s Atlantic City, right?
Heather Warburton 37:08
Yeah. It’s kind of that’s the culture of vacation there.
Michelle Tomko 37:11
You don’t know who really has an issue or not unless you you know them. Right. So,
Heather Warburton 37:17
So that’s coming up February 29.
Michelle Tomko 37:19
February 29 and on Leap Day. Yeah. So you can you can check that out if you want to call the leadership studio. But yeah, check out the leadership studio. I mean, they didn’t pay me to plug this but I just happened to come up. I just, they’re worthy of your support. I guess if you quit yoga and have a donate your mat to them. I don’t know anything you can do for them. I’m sure they’d appreciate.
Heather Warburton 37:41
So you’re doing plugs. Now. Also, you have your open mic nights that you do. Every other week.
Michelle Tomko 37:47
I do. I have a little residence at Bourree. It’s a Cajun restaurant, and your listeners will know it one of two ways. It’s the old Saratoga, which it a was a gay bar back in the day when New York Avenue was New York Avenue as a lot of my interviewers said. And then it also I think the name was Satin Dolls, which was a strip club. So I think either way, probably most of your listeners would know, the building. It’s 201 A New York Avenue in Atlantic City. It’s called Bourree. It’s a Cajun restaurant with a beautiful sound system and beautiful stage. All talents, welcome. Oh my god. We’ve had jugglers. We’ve had improv troupes we’ve had full bands come set up. It’s every other Tuesday. Then the you just have to go on the Bourree website to kind of follow it because now it got all wonky because of like holidays came up and what not. So just check it every other Tuesday. I should be able to rattle off the dates like the pie sequence…like the Fibonacci sequence. I should know um, but I but I don’t.
Heather Warburton 38:49
Do you know the Fibonacci sequence?
Michelle Tomko 38:51
Well, I was in a play. I was in a staged reading about it. One, three. No. Its just like one, three, its prime numbers is like 13579 a lot. But should be impressed that I even knew what it is.
Heather Warburton 39:04
I actually think I might know part.People I don’t get how big of a geek I am. I actually might be able to go through pretty high.
Michelle Tomko 39:11
People remember it into pretty high numbers is like a thing but yeah, it goes into the the primes I guess. Someone who’s banging their head against the table because I’m totally wrong about what I’m saying. So like math geek that listens to this is like…
Heather Warburton 39:25
I think that’s the one where each numbers like the sum of the two numbers before that’s that one. Maybe.
Michelle Tomko 39:29
Oh, that’s right. That’s right. That’s right. It was a long time ago 20 years ago when I lived in Cleveland, Ohio, but still.
Heather Warburton 39:38
So if people want to find where what else you’re doing, you have a website that they can go to?
Michelle Tomko 39:43
I do. I have MichelleTomko.com. I also do the City Pulse with Whitney Alman. We go to events and and post. We try to just ambush stars with our phone and our microphones plugged into our phones and do some guerilla media. And that’s a lot of fun a lot of times, and sometimes we do meaningful things there too. Like we were the ambassadors for the hero campaign. The hero TV campaign which is a don’t drive drunk situation. So the City Pulse. My handle is TomKomedy for everything. It’s my last name is Tomko so TomKomedy. You can just TomKomedy will take you to all of that stuff. And then you know my Facebook friend me, I still don’t have my 5000 friends so. I’ll be any friend of Heather’s as a friend of mine. I’ll take you so be my Facebook friend. Especially if you’re young. I want to have young friends
Heather Warburton 39:46
You want to have younger friends?
Michelle Tomko 40:34
Yeah, like if you’re Yeah, I need like little
Heather Warburton 40:39
I’m probably not the person for you. I’m not a young person.
Michelle Tomko 40:42
You’re younger than me and I I’m not ancient. I’m not. I’m under the Big Five. Oh, well under the big five oh, but still old enough that I don’t know how to use my phone. So I love to have college friends who can show me how to use my phone or show me where to get weed.
I’m not really plugging your podcast I just plugging weed. Oh my poor mother. I dont even smoke that much. I’m drinking water, Mom. Mom I’m drinking water. Its just the name of the podcast.
Heather Warburton 41:14
Well you know the weed makes you thirsty. So you need the water.
Michelle Tomko 41:17
Mom! I’m not high. I swear to God. I’m not high.
Heather Warburton 41:22
It’s been a pleasure talking to you today. It’s been a lot of fun. Thank you.
Michelle Tomko 41:26
I love coming here. I think I should have a segment just a fun segment here. After you go like, this protest is here and here and don’t forget to sign the petition. And then it’s like Do do do do do. And then like the funny minute with Michelle, you ever notice people who arrest you do the zip ties too tight and then I do like a whole riff about your political uprising.
Heather Warburton 41:51
I kinda like this idea, leta talk.
Michelle Tomko 41:55
Heather Warburton 41:57
To my listeners. Thank you so much for joining us today. We really appreciate you more than you can possibly know. We would not be here if it were not for you guys. We take no corporate money because quite frankly, who’s going to pay me to do this. This is not the kind of thing that gets mass media attention and sponsors. We’re just here with people trying to make the world better. And that’s why we have to keep asking for your help if at all possible go to our website www.njrevolutionradio and click on that Donate button. Even if it’s only a couple of dollars a month that helps it not have to come out of me and Brian’s pocket to get out to all these events.
Michelle Tomko 42:32
Russell Brand if you’re listening she’s the real deal. So hook up with her.
Heather Warburton 42:36
Do you know Russell Brand? Can you like hook a girl up.
Michelle Tomko 42:37
Yeah, I know Russell Brand I’m here with no weed talking to you. Okay. Yeah. Okay. I know, I have lunch with Ellen later, but I just did this first.
Heather Warburton 42:47
Anyway, if you can, we really appreciate it. If you can even kick in a couple of dollars. Those you know, our fees add up. It’s not you know, it’s a project every month. So if you can help us at all, we really appreciate it. The future yours to create go out there and create it.