Subscribe to Our Newsletter to Get Great Episodes Delivered To Your Inbox!
Pet Angel Adoption and Rescue: This super cat friendly, no-kill cat shelter has been finding cute kitties homes for over 16 years. Each cat is fixed, vaccinated and microchipped before going to their forever home. After adoption, Pet Angel offers a wonderful online community to help enrich your new life with your newest family member. Visit PetAngelAdoption.com to learn how you can adopt and support this great organization.
Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the call of leadership podcast. I am your host, Cliff DuVernois and today in my mobile studio I have the unique pleasure of being with somebody who has brought laughter and joy to so many people throughout our glorious state of Michigan.
Melissa Hager Comedy Series (00:20):
I’m already [inaudible]. Thanks for having me. I have a problem. Okay, I’ll warn you. We should have talked about this especially cause we’re face to face even though they’re just listening. I have what they call resting smile face and so it just naturally is a problem for me because I start laughing even though there’s nothing really very funny going on. You did a great job. That was awesome, but my resting smile face got the best of me. I’m sorry. For some reason I was like, I’m going to laugh.
This is going to be a lot of fun. I’ve really been looking forward for this interview before we jump into your life as a comedian, of course. Got to ask the standard questions. Tell us, where did you grow up?
Melissa Hager Comedy Series (01:08):
I actually grew up in a little teeny tiny town called Millington. One stoplight. Uh, no fast food. Zero. We now have a subway. Actually I take that back now there’s a subway. Um, I grew up on a farm right outside of town and you know, the farm kid life, just the basic work your butt off and do what your parents say and sit down and eat your dinner and move on.
So with you growing up in, in Millington and I, and I know we kind of talked about this briefly before, so you’re, you’re growing up, you’re going to Millington schools. That’s where you went. Yeah. And all of a sudden you have people recommending that you run for
Melissa Hager Comedy Series (01:49):
yeah. Well yeah, the class advisor. So when I got into high school, it was just kind of one of those things like I was just trying to fit in and your work so hard in high school just to be a friend. Get some friends. I played sports, I thought that made you cool. But for some reason the class advisor saw something that I had never seen. They kept pushing me to run for class president and I was like, why on earth would I do that? Well, your 11th grade year in Millington is the 11th graders put on the prom for the school. And so they suggested that I run for class president, cause that meant I was in charge of putting a committee together to run prom and they said, you’ll get out of school because you’re putting the whole prom together. I said, Oh my gosh, I’m getting out of school.
Melissa Hager (02:37):
And I don’t, it’s not an absence. Like it doesn’t count as an absence. Nope. Nope, sure doesn’t. So my 11th grade year I ran, I won. We had a killer prom. Ironically, we had a hypnotist, comedian as our entertainer, which was one of my suggestions. It was so much fun. My date got convinced he was a chicken and I got to see him make it completely fool out of himself. And then my senior year I was not going to do that. They’re like, Melissa, why wouldn’t you run for class president? And again, I said, why would I, she said, do you know it at graduation there’s only three people that get the microphone, the Val Victorian, the salutatorian, and the class president. And I highly doubt you’re going to be either of those first two things. And I was like, Oh yeah, there is no chance. Not unless 50 people suddenly banish in our class there. I won’t be moved to the top.
Melissa Hager (03:35):
I only went to school with like 70 people. So just so you know. Uh, but yeah, so I ran for class president my senior year one I worked at the whole year on my speech. I wanted it to be funny. I wanted it to be sad. I wanted everybody to laugh and cry and I kept reading. I’ve read that thing 500 times to my parents and my aunts and uncles and my cousins. I was like, how’s this? And they’re like, Lisa, it’s just a graduation speech. I’m like, no, no. This is going to be a full audience. Like every seat will be full in the bleachers. This has gotta be good performance. It was, I didn’t know that then. I didn’t know that at all. I had no idea why that was important to me. Not a clue. So I need to find that speech. I have it in a box somewhere. And I need to find it because we get to see like now that I actually talk to people from stage, I wonder if it was any good, cause I remember it as a highlight, but who knows? You know what I mean? You’re an 18 year old crappy kid,
Speaker 1 (04:31):
so I have to tell you that I’m not a comedian, but in 10th grade we had to write a speech for speech class. And I was fortunate enough that somehow or another I managed to negotiate my way and get something that was called like open so I could write anything I wanted to. So I wrote my own speech and gave up there, performed it. And people actually laughed and didn’t that feel good. And yeah, it actually felt really good. And I remember like being up on stage, of course all the lights are beaming in my eyes. I can’t see the audience at all. But I know like I’m in the auditorium, there’s probably, you know, a few hundred people there and I’m sweating like crazy and they’re laughing. They’re laughing at what’s coming out of my mouth and believe in I, I feel I know exactly what you’re saying because I actually kept that speech and I did a Facebook live on it maybe about six or seven months ago. Going through my stuff. I found that spew Jed. See now you’re challenging me. Get yo, it’s challenge wallets down gauntlets down.
Melissa Hager (05:25):
Oh, a mouse pee. God, I’m going to have to find it. You hold it. You hold it while I read it.
Speaker 1 (05:34):
There we go. Uh, so you graduate from high school. Now you didn’t start your path on the comedian like right away.
Melissa Hager (05:43):
No. [inaudible] we actually kind of dabbled in real estate. Yeah, I actually got a real estate license and I did real estate for like 15 years. I got really good at it. Why real estate? Well, I don’t, it’s crazy. I grew up on a farm and I learned from my parents like true entrepreneurship, I feel like because I watched them use everything they had to trade or sell to make a living. And it was so, I didn’t realize how lucky I was. Did not have my dad ever punch a clock. My mom never punched a clock. They never had to leave us, but they were always gone working like they were always working really hard. But it was never because someone else told them they had to be there. It was because they believed in their farm and what they were doing and they wanted their farm to be successful so they worked hard.
Melissa Hager (06:39):
So as a kid I feel like I had a different kind of mentality. Of course I did not know that either. Then until I got out of high school and I did not want to punch a clock. I tried, I went to the gap of all places and worked there for like a couple months and it was just like, Oh God. And the paycheck is so crappy and it didn’t matter how many tank tops I sold, they wouldn’t give me any more money. Like I was like, okay, can I just be on commission more? I sell the more you pay me because I’m in paid the same as Jane who sits in the fitting room all day, calling her boyfriend. Like, why that makes no sense to me. Like so I knew right away that things were different and I was actually dating a guy who had a sales business you like knock on doors, sales are Gore sales.
Melissa Hager (07:28):
And I did that for a little while and I was good at it. But I told him, I said, I really want to help people buy a car or a house, their biggest decision of their life. I want to be a part of that. I think I can help guide people in a good direction of like what’s good for them. And he said, well I think you should do it. And if I can put my 2 cents in, I think it should be houses cause they’re more expensive, which must mean bigger commissions. I was like, you’re probably right. So I went to real estate school and got a license and it was, it was so much fun. It was every single family that I worked with, we had a blast. Every time we would be cracking jokes and joking around, I knew everything about them. The kids and I would get along really good.
Melissa Hager (08:12):
It was just easy for me and you can feel from, I think that helps me a lot. Even if what I’m doing now, you can feel people’s attitudes like you can, I could tell when somebody’s like a decision wasn’t sitting easy with them and I would just move them in a different direction or walk them through it like, no, this is good for you. I really think that if the, for the big picture, you’re looking like really shortsighted. If you see the big picture. And then it ended up being awesome. So it was crazy. 15 years I built up to a really great income. Right. And like so many people were like, wait, what? You’re not, you’re not doing real estate anymore, are you crazy? I was like, yeah, I think I am. I’m totally nuts.
Speaker 1 (08:56):
Now this is when you’re making your decision to go full time into comedy.
Melissa Hager (08:59):
Yeah, so I started like dabbling in comedy. My husband I had, so I ended up so ditch that first guy and then I ended up with [inaudible] and then I ended up with this really great guy and he was the over the road truck driver or he is, he still is. He’s an over the road truck driver and it was like I was raised by a stay at home mom. So both of us being gone as much real estate. If you’re going to be a good realtor and you’re going to make close to six figures, you are going to be hustling every day. Lots of hours, lots of nights, lots of weekends. And it was like, we’re going to have kids. What is going to happen to our kids? That means no one’s here. So after I had my first child who’s now seven years old, that’s crazy to say.
Melissa Hager (09:43):
He went with me on some showings and it didn’t matter if he had a cold or flu or something was wrong with him that I couldn’t make the showing. The people would quickly move on to another realtor. It wasn’t like, Oh, I hope your kid’s okay. It was like, Oh, how inconvenient. And then they would just move on. So I was like, okay, this is not a very family friendly job. I think we should just put it on hold for a little bit. And then putting that on hold led to some other things that got me on a stage in front of people cracking some jokes, which never I never intended to do. And then I saw my first live comedy show. I was in the audience watching in Detroit at Mark Ridley’s comedy castle. My mom actually took me to my very first show and she saw what I had done, like without any training in front of someone. And then she took me to a show and that sealed the deal. I was like, okay, we’re doing this. It’s happening. There’s nothing like that up here in mid Michigan. Nothing. So let’s make it, let’s make it happen. And she’s like, Oh, go figure. Just like you are to just throw in the whole body. You can’t just touch your toes to the water. And I’m like, no, that’s not really. Not really my thing.
Melissa Hager (10:57):
That’s just do it
Speaker 1 (10:58):
well. I think it’s also too, it’s, it’s part of your entrepreneurial mindset, right? Because it seems like the entrepreneurs that I know, they just run forward into the future, you know, and just hope for the best, you know, as they go forward. And it sounds like that’s exactly what you did with comedy
Melissa Hager (11:15):
and it was easy to keep going because after the comedy series, which is what we named the company after the comedy series produced a couple shows and I got the feedback, you know, people with social media are so much more likely to give you feedback nowadays and, and unfortunately they’re very, very prone to giving negative feedback. Like we’re the comedy series Facebook page and the whole company just turned four years old. We have not received one negative ever. Nothing. We have all five star reviews we have. It’s crazy to me that in a world where every business is always on eggshells like, Oh goodness, please, please tell me everybody likes what we’re doing. Please, please don’t eat my food and tell me it’s cold or find a hair in it or fuck, you know what I mean? We don’t have to, that’s not a thing for us.
Melissa Hager (12:09):
And the amount of feedback we do get from people and they tell us these stories of things that happened to them that week and then they came to the show and their life is completely different or their, our outlook is completely different. It’s crazy. It is absolutely crazy. And it’s like, well how could we stop? Like now we can’t stop because like it’s bigger than me. It’s way bigger than me just getting on stage to do comedy. It’s helping people that otherwise, well, what would happen to them if they didn’t have that event to go to? What would happen to them that would keep me up at night? Worried to death.
Speaker 1 (12:45):
So when you, you know, so, so taking a step back when, so you decided to get into comedy and what was that transition like from being like a spectator to being up on the stage for the first time? I mean, did you kind of just like write some material? Did you watch some YouTube videos? Did you take a class? What was it that that helped you make that transition from spectator to comedian?
Melissa Hager (13:09):
Hmm. You know, that is an interesting, that’s where I feel like sometimes I, I don’t actually know what the real comedy world is supposed to be like because it never felt like much of a transition to me. I really like being in front of people and so when I would go on stage, it was just my mom would be backstage or my husband would be backstage before we’d be ready to shelf start. The show showed me, sold out. There’d be 200 people out there and they would come backstage and they’re just like, Oh, are you okay? It’s really full out there. Are you nervous? Like I could just grow up. I am so scared for you. And I’m like, really? Like I’m just ready for the show to start it. Like let’s just start the show. So I, it actually took me probably at least a year before I had any real jokes.
Melissa Hager Comedy Series (14:06):
I’m mostly, I think was just going out there and talking to people. And then it was just a silly banter back and forth. And I talked a little bit about being a farm kid, but in the original time of me doing comedy, talking about being a farmer, that joke has changed so much. Like I’m still seeing a lot of the same material, but it’s so different than it was because I wasn’t really saying anything that funny, but people were like, Oh, look at her. That’s so cool. Following her dreams and they’ve always just been so supportive. So it just kept me going. And then you’ve learned how to really tell jokes. I actually took a class, an advanced comedy class down in Detroit every Saturday for, I don’t know, that’s like an eight or 10 week class. Every Saturday I drove down there and took the class and you got one on one, you know, help, you did your set, you did the same seven minute set all 10 weeks and you got to improve it the whole time.
Melissa Hager (15:01):
It was really cool. So that helped a lot. That was a big change for me. But yeah, I never started in comedy. There’s different positions. There’s the MC that kicks off the show and it’s not really their job to be very funny. It’s their job to be friendly and fun for the audience to banter back and forth with. And then the feature is the middle act. They’re like the rising star, the person that’s newer to the scene that’s climbing towards headliner spot. They do about 1520 minutes. Then there’s the headliner that’s like the funny guy or girl, that’s the funny person that’s just punchline, punchline, punchline. You’re like, Oh gosh, please stop. My ribs hurt like stop, you know. So I never got in it to be a headliner. I got in it to make a stage for me to be on and the like. And to bring in these big guys to watch them laugh. Like I want to watch it too. So that to this day I’m still emceeing. Now obviously I have more jokes and more time built up and I have a lot of amazing encouraging fans that are constantly pestering me. Will you please do more times? Stay up there longer. Why are you leaving us so soon? And I’m like, yeah, but the guy back there is really good. Wait until he comes out here. Just wait. You know, so that’s kinda how that all slides together.
Speaker 1 (16:18):
You know, you’re getting up there on stage, you’re being brave, you’re cracking jokes and then at some point in time you decide or maybe a group of you decide to launch the comedy series. What was the Genesis of that idea?
Melissa Hager (16:32):
Well, the original, believe it or not, the original name was Frank and Muth comedy series. I went to a friend of mine who does flyers and marketing and promotional material and I said, Hey, I want to put together a comedy show at the little theater here. Actually, I originally wanted to have it at a little tiny bar in town that only sat like 40 people and she was like, why would you do it there when you could rent the little theater downtown? I said, why would I rent a little theater? No one is going to come to this. There’s no comedy, there’s no professional comedy up here. Nobody is going to buy these tickets. She’s like, Oh, I think they are going to buy these tickets. I said, well, I don’t believe you. So I went to the little bar that sat 40 people and I the owners is Ben a family friend?
Melissa Hager (17:17):
Ish. I worked for his sister at a different store in town years ago. And uh, he said no. He said, I like you, I hope this works out for you, but I just don’t think that would be a thing for us. And then I went back to my girlfriend and I was like, see, they don’t want it here. And she’s like, just rent the theater. So I did, I called the theater, I rented it and I said, well, let’s just see. So she made me a poster and she said, you need a name, you got to call it something. And as long as I know how to do that. And so she called it freedom with comedy series. It was actually her. And then that first weekend we sold out two shows, Friday and three shows. Saturday we ran almost a thousand people through there. It was crazy.
Melissa Hager (18:01):
So then we did that for a little bit and then word got out and we actually had some bars start to contact us. I don’t know why, I just always talk in third party. I am the comedy series and I always say we us, they, cause I’m used to responding that way on Facebook. You know when you have to say when somebody says, Hey, what’s, what show is next Saturday, well we will be at blah blah blah. You know, that’s why I say that stuff. I don’t know why. So it was Frank, it was comedy series. We started doing stuff. Buyers started contacting the comedy series and saying, so are you obligated to fish your whole, can you come on other locations because we would like to have comedy and you’re the only person we know around here that puts on comedy shows. We have zero connections in that world.
Melissa Hager (18:50):
I was like, yeah, we can do that. And so then the whole thing was born and now we’re traveling outside of that zip code. And I went back to my flyer girl. I was like, now what do we do? She goes, ah, I didn’t know this was going to happen. I said, I didn’t need you there. And it was funny cause this day she teases me, she’s like, I thought this was supposed to be a hobby. I was like, I know it was supposed to be a hobby. Now every Thursday through Saturday or Sunday we have shows all over the state of Michigan. It’s crazy. So we dropped the Frankenmuth and we just put the, and now we’re the comedy series. We’re kind of a mobile comedy club. We’re homeless, but yet we have lots of homes, if that makes sense. It’s our job to go into a business and help them make more money.
Melissa Hager (19:33):
So that’s, that’s how I like to attribute the work ethic. Part of the comedy series. You’re going to get booze and food sales that you wouldn’t normally have from this large group of people. All these people here will be exposed to your bar or restaurant if they’re not a regular already. And our job while we’re on stage is to make them a solid customer. And that comes back here over and over and over again. And it’s been beautiful so far. Outside of Frankenmuth, is there a particular venue that you just love to perform? Oh gosh, there’s so many. Give me like your top five, the bus stop bar and grill, which is right over in Bertrand. It’s actually not far away at all. It’s really fun and you know what makes it fun? The staff and the owners, they’re great. They treat us like 1 million bucks.
Melissa Hager (20:21):
Right. It’s awesome. Um, we also do stuff, we had a great place last year that we kind of fizzled out of because they stopped doing shows, but it doesn’t take away from how great it was. Their Midland brewing company had a separate room called the red keg. That one was also a really cool spot and we love being at Fisher hall. It’s really fun. It’s just you have to set everything up there, you know, like it’s this whole ordeal of setting stuff up. But yeah, they’re, they’re all amazing. We got a couple of new spots we’re going to be kicking off this summer. We’re really excited about and I cannot wait. Yeah, we’ll definitely have. Talk about that for at the end of the show for your life as a comedian, are there any comedians out there that you look up to? Yo, yeah, for sure. I would say definitely for two very different reasons.
Melissa Hager (21:12):
My favorites, absolute favorites would be Jim Gaffigan and Kevin Hart, which are very different comedians. Jim Gaffigan I think is hilarious and I think I admired the fact that it’s so hilarious. I’ve seen him in person and I’ve listened to his stuff over and over and over again that he can be that funny and not be dirty. He never talks about dirty stuff. Now there is audiences that call for that, like you can’t always just be clean and get everyone’s attention in the room. Some people are just a little twisted and demented and I think that’s great. I know I haven’t become way more twisted since doing this job way more.
Melissa Hager (21:57):
It definitely used to be so sweet and innocent, but Jim Gaffigan is so funny and the S the lines are really simple. If you break his sets down and you break down the punchlines, they’re so simple. Anybody could write that stuff, but they don’t. He does. His writers do and I just admire that. I think it’s fantastic. And Kevin Hart, who I think is funny also is got such a big corporation built around him that Kevin Hart is the face of but has also taken his friends in as these fingers that reach out into all these different things. They have these different TV shows and these different, he has like two different YouTube channels that make him over a hundred grand a month in advertising revenue and movies. They just started heartbeat radio. They have um, movies, Tiffany heart gash and himself or the two star rolls. That was the first movie that his brand new company produced and he got like mixed reviews.
Melissa Hager (23:04):
But I watched it. I thought it was hilarious and knowing that that company had never produced a movie. I mean you think about all the people that work inside of that company, he started, you know, they did a hell of a job producing a comedy, a funny movie. And I just, I envy Kevin for that. How he’s been able to take what he has built as a personality and a platform and spread out into so many different things but still make comedy. His main thing like comedy is still who Kevin her is, but his friends and family that want to be on board with, you know, HartBeat productions that he lets him go off and do these things. And I think it’s just so cool. Yes. Yes
Speaker 1 (23:46):
is inspiring to me. I want to ask this question because this actually comes up quite a bit and I’m actually kind of curious about it myself. When you’re, you know, when you’re up there on stage and maybe you haven’t experienced it a lot, but when you’re upstage, it always seems like every blue moon you’re going to get that one heckler in the crowd. Yeah. You know somebody who’s just trying to throw you off your game, you know, and I know that in real life that’s also applicable to cause there’s just going to be people out there like when you decide, Hey, I’m going to chase my dream, they’re the first people to try to shoot you down. Right? So how when you get up there and you recognize somebody trying to heckle you, how do you handle it?
Melissa Hager (24:19):
Well, first is understanding where they’re coming from. Most often there’s one or two things they have had too much to drink or it is someone who is excited enough to banter with you but not brave enough to get on the stage and try comedy themselves. But they feel entitled for some reason to sit there and like try to be part of the show cause they, they’ve been told their whole life. They’re the funny one because when I talked tacklers after the show, that’s what we get. Like a lot of times a heckler will come up to me after a show and be like, Hey, sorry about that. Sorry about that during the show. But you know, I’m like the funny guy in our group, so I didn’t really have a choice. Oh well yeah you did. You definitely had a choice. Shut up. But so for me, after you hear that a few times and, and you have a conscience, I mean a lot of comedians will just shut them down.
Melissa Hager (25:14):
Slam ’em down to the ground. Sometimes there’ll be so cruel that the heckler will walk out and leave. I am just not that person. I can’t bring myself to be that cruel if they can. So I have like a couple standard things I go to out here. We’re still in a lot of very small town communities that you know are just so old fashioned. It’s not like super forward thinking out here. So depending on what town we’re in, sometimes you can make a play off of that. I mean we’re, we’re in a town where a lot of my audiences are pretty white, like it’s 50 shades of white. So a lot of times I’m like, this isn’t a town hall meeting voting on if we’re letting black people in. So just be quiet. And the whole crowd loves it. And then they’re like, wait, what did she say? Or the other thing is, I’ve heard other comedians do this and I think it’s great. So I tried it a couple times and it is a little bit more direct when you can just say, you know what? Last time we spoke, I remember you having a much smaller speaking part and they’re like, Oh, okay, be quiet. Shut up. Is that your wife sitting four chairs away from you? Yeah, that’s why.
Speaker 1 (26:31):
Yeah, be quiet. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So on the flip side of the coin, you know you’ve got the heckler that’s in the audience. I am sure that there’s been times where you’ve been up on stage where you look down and you, that guy in the front
Melissa Hager (26:44):
row who is these faces, granted his arms are crossed. I’m not going to laugh at anything. She says, I’m not going to move. Does that ever like, like do you ever like zone in like I am going to make that guy laugh if I have to stand up here all night. So I used to only see that guy when I first started. I used to only see that guy. A lot of times that guy won’t show up like his wife and her girlfriends will come, but he’s like, mom, I don’t need them. And they don’t show. Yeah, I don’t want you to laugh so they don’t come. But once in a while they’re there and for some reason there’s this whole sea of people in front of you and your eyeballs gotta meet with that guy and you’re like, ah, now I can’t not see you.
Melissa Hager (27:28):
And it did. It would freak me out. I’m like, I’m not funny. This isn’t good. I can’t wait. I gotta get somebody else up here. This is awful. I can’t wait til the next guy comes out, they’ll fix them. But both the last year, year and a half or so, I liked that guy. Like that guy is fun for me and I don’t even mind talking to him. I have a good time. This last weekend we were just in a WASO at the Avenue over another really fun place. And I had a guy sitting to my immediate left and he had a white beard and a ball cap and a sweater and his arms were crossed and I started talking to his group a little bit and I, you saw him loosen up like, Whoa, okay. She’s talking to us. And then it was just, I just told him before I left the stage, I said, just you know, like I’m going to get you to uncross your arms. That’s a goal of mine. You’re not going to sit like that the whole time. First of all, your fingers are going to go numb and that’s terrible. How are you going to pleasure yourself later?
Melissa Hager (28:24):
And then his wife was like, Ooh. I said, is she with you or is that other guy with both of them girls and you’re just like the odd man out. And then he did, he started like loosening up and he got fun and he by probably the second comedian, he was totally into the show, like having a great time. But I’ve always been afraid to be confrontational, like get into people’s faces. I never had the confidence to do that. And only recently I haven’t, it does work. I’ve had a million mentor come in a million, like I’m cool enough to have a million mentors. I w I’ve had a couple really great mentor comedians that are like Melissa, people like you get in their face, they’re not going to be mad at you. You don’t have to worry about people being mad at you, like talk to them, be more direct, be more abrupt. Don’t be just so fun. Nicey nicey all the time. I’m like, Oh, okay. So I’ve just, I’ve finally have started getting more comfortable doing that. So my apologies if this is a PG podcast, I guess I should have asked you what our barriers were for topics. That’s okay. I can be assured that by now I’ve already made a mental note to put a disclosure.
Melissa Hager (29:34):
This is the 18 and older one. [inaudible] sorry, and I am holding back. Speaking of it, let’s talk about your podcast. We do have a disclaimer on our podcasts for sure. You are my podcast sister. You guys are running, what’s the name of your podcast, ladies of the comedy series now, why in the world? Oh my gosh, I don’t know. This is crazy. There is a podcast group in Bay city, Michigan called bourbon Bay productions. Really great group of guys. Super friendly, very awesome. My only experience with more audio action, and they have a whole channel where they run a couple different types of shows throughout the day and bourbon Bay productions. There’s like a, that’s Greek to me that show with those guys and another show that they do and it runs all day. Well, they had, they never had any females do anything and they came to a comedy show.
Melissa Hager (30:44):
Somebody in their group had come to a comedy show and they’re like, that’s it right there. We need her to talk on a microphone for a half hour and run a bunch of episodes. So they approached me and I was like, no, I just don’t have time for that. I would love to have my own show like Ellen degenerates is my ultimate, is my ultimate idol. Like I want to do what she does. I want to give away hundreds of thousands of dollars to help people, but also have millions leftover. You know what I mean? I would love to be able to do that for people, for my community, for the state, for whatever. So they would not let it go. They continued to ask them. They invited me on their show a couple times and it was so much fun. We had a blast and we drank bourbon and that was great.
Melissa Hager (31:31):
And then they’re like, come on, come on, come on. And I said, listen, I don’t think I can talk to myself for a half an hour. I’m funny because I’m interacting with people. I don’t think I can be funny talking to a piece of paper. I just don’t know how that would work. And so I talked to the two girls, so my two best friends, Abby and Adrian, they have been with me from the beginning helping at the shows. It’s kind of their release. They’re both moms and they both have very busy lives. But once a month on the weekends, that’s their release to get out of the house and go do something fun and they’d take tickets at the door and check people in and do all that. At that time we were doing comedy like once a month. Now it’s crazy. And they’re like, we didn’t sign up, but we’re getting that figured out.
Melissa Hager (32:16):
We’re getting that figured out. If you’d like to apply for a job, you can email so I told him, I said, Hey, what do you girls think about doing a show? We’re fun. Like we have great chemistry. We have so many crazy stories to tell from being at these shows and the stuff that happens throughout the weekend. What if we start a show and they’re like, Oh, I said, come on, let’s just try it. So we did. We launched a show with them, bourbon Bay productions, and we’re meeting every week and driving to Bay city. And we did it consistently for about six, seven months until, um, Abby’s husband, like that’s his creative release. He’s like, I want to get into some audio stuff. He’s like, how about if I get you guys started? So then all of a sudden it was born. Here we are. We were just like, we were ladies of the comedy series over there. But that’s just kind of what we said. We never had an official title or a banner or any sponsors or nothing like that. And then we ended up in this space here in Frankenmuth and launched an actual studio where you could go and sit and do video or audio or whatever you wanted to do. And then businesses locally were like, Hey, how do we help you with your show? I was like, give me money.
Melissa Hager (33:32):
I need money. So we figured that out and now we’re ladies of the comedy series and it is fun. We still as much time as we spend together. Thankfully we still have great chemistry. It’s still awesome. I think it’s a fun show. We have a lot of people that watch it every single week and month and year. Last year a numbers like blew me away cause it was our first full year here on our own. And I was like, good Lord, who are all these people? Like what do they want? And when we went into the search engines for podcasts, we were searching words when we were looking for an official name. And when you type in ladies, there was not a lot that came up. So that’s why I said, well then let’s keep the branding the same so they can still get directed to the comedy series and come to our shows and we’ll call it ladies of the comedy series. So and then now here we are doing it every Tuesday. It’s so much fun. Now how many episodes have you guys put out on our own? We’re at about 55 60 somewhere in there. Um, so cause we just hit a year here on our own. So all of our episodes that we did over there, we haven’t been able to get all of them to load them, but we’re working on that. Right. So it’s still pretty new. Podcast is not, it’s not really very old.
Speaker 1 (34:47):
Well in terms of podcasts, heaters, I know the average podcast usually last about eight episodes. So you’re doing really well though. Well I didn’t know that. We’re doing great. Great chapter barrels. Yes, you guys are doing great. Listen, I listen to your podcast and I’m like, man, these guys are just on cool. It’s really, it’s really fun to listen to you. How do you think, you know, in relationship to the, you know, the comedy series, how do you think your, your podcast has helped you to push the comedy series forward?
Melissa Hager (35:15):
Well, I’m hoping that people are listening in there. At the end of the show we talk about where we’re going to be at that weekend and I hope to end up with enough followers or listeners that even if they can’t go, they know somebody that should go. Because you know, word of mouth credibility works when your friend is, you know, I can’t go, I’m so sad, but you have got to hear these girls. It’s so much fun. And then some other comedians will be there too. So I guess that’s what I’m hoping for. I think doing the show is a nice release for me too. It helps our community. We have sponsors that, yes, they’re giving me money, but in return we’re giving them credibility and talking about them. We’ve done some really great giveaways not that long ago. Our heating and cooling company and our hardware store teamed up together and we did this huge social media run that on our show. We were picking winners from their social media pages and they were getting gift certificates to the hardware store and stuff. And it was so cool to bring them together to do stuff. It got them more followers, more action on social media, more customers. And it was something fun for us to do on the show. So that stuff just drives me while they’ll love that stuff,
Speaker 1 (36:31):
you know? And that’s something that I have found out that that helps so much when you’re busy. Cause it’s easy to think of a business owners being siloed, you know, completely by herself. But the instant you’ve approached somebody and said, Hey, let’s work together to help each other out it to this day, it still gives me goosebumps as to how, you know, I’ve been able to like something I can do that’s easy for me, for them means the world. And then all they do is a couple things for me that I’m like, wow, that’s impressive. You know, it’s like just even getting this podcast off the ground, you know, it’s just been, yes, absolutely amazing. So when you, when you work with other businesses that are out there, it’s a, Hey, let’s do something together. It’s amazing what doors could open. Yeah, that is, that is exactly right. I’m the Bavarian in which I know you have gotten this. C
Melissa Hager (37:18):
is a wonderful place that is used to putting on their own events. And typically I go into a place and I sell a ticket and I get the ticket money and they get everything else, whatever comes of that with them buying booze or food. And the Bavarian Inn is one of the first places locally that came to me and they’re like, Hey, we would like to start doing some events, but we just want you Melissa Hagar to emcee or to make announcements or can you introduce people? And I was like, Oh, like I like, I’m a voice in town. And I was like, well sure. That sounds very fun. I would love to have no responsibility. Just show up and talk into a microphone and get a paycheck. That’s crazy. I didn’t even think that was possible, even though that’s what we do for comedians every weekend. Like I was like, how do you get on the other side of this?
Melissa Hager (38:11):
You know? So they were the first ones that gave me a shot of that. And then some of the local festivals started bringing me on and then parades were ex asking me to announce braids as the floats go by. And I was like, Oh my gosh, this is so cool. And now this summer there’s a simple or festival that happens right here in Frankenmuth. I’ve been contracted with the pedal trolley. They put us together. I’m going to be on the pedal trolley funny tours through Frankenmuth and you, it’s, I’m like, how did this happen? This is crazy. It’s so cool. It’s so fun. So I’m just, it’s, it’s been awesome. It’s the way that the town, uh, here and the surrounding people and my friends and family have gathered behind this and they’re like, Oh, go for it. I’m like, okay, this is so you can’t give up.
Melissa Hager (38:59):
You can’t stop because it’s too fun now. It’s getting too much excitement going on. You are actually being paid to have fun. Yeah, and to me it doesn’t seem like a very hard job. There’s days I feel like not that funny that happens, but it doesn’t feel hard to get for me, I don’t get anxious or when it’s like, here’s the microphone. Like I watched people physically turn colors. We do a lot of fundraisers shows we help groups earn money. So we’ll put on a comedy show, but I always suggest that the leader of the group comes on stage first to say, tell everybody thank you for coming and what is the purpose of us here today? What did we raise money for? And you can watch them turn color, their handshake that I’m just like, okay, no, no it’s okay. You don’t have to tell me what to say.
Melissa Hager (39:51):
Like I forget that 99.9% of people, his biggest fear is talking in front of people. I forget that cause it was just never been a thing for me. There is people that would rather die or eat a spider or jump off a cliff, then talk in front of a group of people. That’s crazy. That’s wild. You mentioned before, I want to kind of explore this a little bit, so you’ve actually done comedy shows in conjunction with nonprofits, with fundraisers. Talk to us a little bit about that. So I write, in the beginning, I got introduced to icon of Michigan sales. Emilio, he’s an amazing headliner, great guy. We’ve had him several times, and in his little niche of lower Michigan, he has a room that he strictly does fundraisers out of, and when we were talking one day, he told me what he does and how he runs it, and of course, just being a girl and being a overthinking type of woman, I had to put my own spin on it, but I was like, Hey, we could do that too.
Melissa Hager (40:53):
And I didn’t want to get pigeonholed in only doing that. I wanted to be able to do all these other things too. But yeah, we do these fundraisers shows in there. We have two of them this weekend. Saturday we’re going to be doing a clean show, raising some money for a little Lutheran school. And then I have a whole different set of comedians that are going to be over at the jewel in grand Blanc and they’re going to be raising money for an optimist club and it works out awesome. It’s a $20 ticket. I get the tickets, made, the flyers, man, I set up the whole uh, marketing program for them. And the group has to commit to selling a hundred tickets. They can sell more, but they have to sell a hundred and then they get 10 and we get 10 and they get to do a 50 50 or sometimes they want to raffle off some baskets during the show.
Melissa Hager (41:37):
I mean, they can make a couple thousand bucks. Pretty easy. Do for one, two hour adult night out where everybody had a great time. Everybody’s enjoying themselves. And do you know how many pizza kits or how many candles or how many chocolate bars you have to sell to earn a couple thousand dollars? Like a lot. And it’s a pain. So to use this to help those groups make money. I was like, yeah, that’s a slam dunk. Why wouldn’t we? So yeah, that’s been really cool. And the comedians feel complete, you know, they’re helping with somebody. Something that I, again, as MC I tried to get up there and make a big deal about the group and what we’re raising money for and how great it is that they’re all here supporting that group. And then also that’s for the comedians following me that they’re like, okay, I’m doing something with my life tonight.
Melissa Hager (42:31):
We’re impacting our community. You know, I want them to feel bigger. Like not all comedians always see the bigger picture. It’s just like I got to go up there and tell jokes and get my paycheck and go home. Like they kind of get into this routine. So I just take it upon ourselves when we get their hands on them to help them understand how big this is. Because again, I get the emails and the texts and the phone calls and the messages talking about, you know, the lady that lost her mom to this horrifying suffering long 10 year illness and she didn’t want to go the comedy show, but her friends made her go to the comedy show and she went to the comedy show and now she just had the best time of her life and she can’t stop laughing and repeating lines from jokes and, and she just can’t thank us enough for having comedy and blah blah blah blah blah.
Melissa Hager (43:19):
And it’s like, Oh my gosh. Like you don’t know what is going on in your neighborhoods. Like nobody knows that. Right. We have a lady Dawn that’s been coming to our shows now. Her and her husband and two years have not missed a show. If I have a Thursday, Friday, Saturday show, even if it’s the same comedians, they’re there Thursday, Friday, Saturday, every single show. And she has a illness that makes it very difficult for her to travel, difficult for her to breathe. She has oxygen and a lot of our headliners that we have often cause they’re just amazing. They, she seen them nine 10 11 times and she’s like, we have bill again. How exciting. I love bill and she is just adamant that this is her thing. This is keeping her going. This is keeping her moving and keeping her fresh and keeping her alive. I cannot shake her and it’s amazing to me and you see her like every time she’s heard my jokes she could mouth my jokes from the audience.
Melissa Hager (44:17):
She see me so much and when you see her light up, when we start telling jokes it’s mindblowing and you’re just like, wow, what is this is in people. It’s there is something there for people to be able to improve their quality of life. Like whoever was the first person that said laughter is the best medicine. That is a real thing. You can legitimately get rid of some meds if you regularly laughed. If you prescribed yourself to go find comedy and laugh like deep belly laugh, not like [inaudible]. Okay. Yeah. That’s so funny. Laugh. Throw your head back, tears down your face, laugh, it changes you, it totally changes you. It changes how you are as a wife, as a mom and how it, how you treat your kids, how you treat your friends. It changes you a 100% believe that
Speaker 1 (45:10):
for this lady that’s followed you to all your shows and knows every single one. Did you ever dream that you would have such an impact on somebody? No.
Melissa Hager (45:20):
No that’s no. Absolutely not. No. And I don’t, it’s funny you say that. It feels weird for you to say, did you dream you would have that? I don’t feel like I have, I feel like the comedy series has and it’s all these really funny people that we hire and bring to the comedy series and she’ll come up to me all the time. She’s like, you know, you’re my favorite. And I’m like, okay, I know. But the comedy series, you spent a crap ton of money on that headliner. Could you just say he’s super funny cause that would be helpful. Cause Melissa Hagar didn’t necessarily get a paycheck tonight.
Melissa Hager (45:54):
So, but no, I would have never thought that. My grandma, my grandma is about to turn 79 years old and we have her most often, at least once a month in the front row at our shows and they’re all clean. These are our rated shows for the most part. She’s a good Catholic lady and she just has a blast and you get her and Dawn sitting next together. Oh my goodness. And them to just go on and on and on. And she’s like, I just love watching these. I would never imagine going out there and watching grandma laugh
Speaker 1 (46:29):
crazy jokes. It’s crazy. No, I did not see that coming. I’m sure the audience is completely intrigued and I am talk to us about some good shows that are coming up. Where can we, where can we see you perform anything coming up like in the may, June time?
Melissa Hager (46:44):
Yes. Um, so may we have laughs and lagers, which is another cool event that was born just a couple of years ago. We went to an event that was like an indoor beer drinking event and it was a really good time. And then they had like some sideshows that were going on on a stage but people weren’t paying attention cause they were so busy rustling around doing the beer samples and I was, I was like wow this is a really cool concept but what if we could stretch it out throughout the town and like do a comedy bar crawl and of course the girls, Abby and Adrian that work with me they’re like Oh God here we go again cause I have a lot of ideas, I have a lot of ideas but that one we actually came back and put it into play and it is sold out every time.
Melissa Hager (47:28):
It is so much fun. It is a calm, it’s a comedy bar crawl through town. So you buy one ticket and you get three stops, three beer samples, three comedy shows at three different places in Frankenmuth and it is so much fun. That is May 8th is the next one. It’s called laughs and loggers you can go to laughs and loggers.com L a G E R like lager, like a beer. And this year we have one of our headliners is actually coming from California, Jen Kober. She’s been on righteous gemstones. She’s been on the middle. She has her own special, she’s really too famous for us, but I got to work with her a couple of times. And sometimes that just happens like that. It’s like, Hey, what can I come to Michigan and do? I was like, well, I’ll shine. I got just the thing. So we’re actually going to have her and Steve Ayat and bill Hildebrand and we’re using the Bavarian in Fisher hall and the Frankenmuth brewery.
Melissa Hager (48:27):
So it’s really fun. You can walk. It’s all, it’s less than an eighth of a mile. You go to each stop and have your fun and it’s the same side of the street. It’s awesome. It’s awesome. Come early. Have a chicken dinner somewhere. Go to Bronner’s. Get yourself an ornament at brighteners. That’s not how you say it. People, if people want to connect with you and hopefully after this episode, they definitely will want to connect with you online. How can they find you? The comedy series has a Facebook page and an Instagram. Um, our email address is the comedy . I would definitely go to the Facebook page first if you have Facebook cause that’s where we post the most. Sometimes I forget to do the Instagram thing. I do have a YouTube channel called Melissa Hagar TV. There’s some really cool interviews on there. Um, but also there’s just some fun goofing around on there too.
Melissa Hager (49:24):
But you can see I have some comedians on there and they’re kind of fun to watch him just talk as normal people. Also I’m on tic-tac if you believe that. And that’s definitely a R rated scene. I have some of my dirtier material tic-tacs I’m really great place to try out your material once you build a, I have like 27,000 followers on tic-tac. I have no idea how. I have no idea how that, well I do know how I happened but one joke to many. But that is a place where for me I put like one liners or stuff I’m thinking of because those are 15 to 32nd videos. I’ll put them out there and then you kind of see how people react or what they, or you watch it over and over and over again. You’re like, Oh, I could have said this or I could’ve said that.
Melissa Hager (50:09):
So that is a, another fun place to go see some of my shenanigans. But yeah, Facebook, Melissa Hagar. I think I’m almost out of friends. I can’t, I need to start one of them fan pages, but that’s, that feels silly to me. You know that seems weird. There is a fake fan page out there somewhere. It’s weird. Yeah. Don’t like that page. Don’t like, I have no fan page right now. Don’t like it. But um, uh, yeah, I would go to the comedy series page. That’s where all of our shows are at. And if you’re in Michigan and you are not watching comedy, you’re crazy. You’re insane because you, your life could be better. It is so much better after you laugh. Deep, hard laugh. And like I said, I’m super lucky. My mom is so supportive. Abby and Adrian are so supportive. I have these people now, don’t get me wrong, I have family and I have friends that have completely disappeared since I’ve really started catching momentum doing comedy. They’re gone like nowhere to be seen, but I don’t worry about that stuff anymore. I don’t dwell on them at all and just concentrate on the people that keep propelling me forward because someday we’re going to be on a tour bus, eating fancy snacks and you know, pooping while we’re driving, it’s going to be so much fun. And this is gonna be like see a suckers, you know, that’s my 2 cents only thought about that a lot.
Speaker 1 (51:34):
So for our audience, all the links will be in the show notes down below. Melissa, I’m, I’m bummed that this is over. We are going to have to make sure to get you back on the show again at some future point. Some questions I don’t. I asked the questions. Melissa, thank you so much for being on the show today.
Melissa Hager (51:59):
Thanks for having me. What a blast. Keep doing this. What you’re doing for podcastland is amazing. Keep doing it.
About The Host
About The Host
Cliff is the host of “The Call of Leadership” podcast. He has published over 500 short stories over Facebook, Medium and LinkedIn. He is a passionate lifelong learner, marketer and philanthropist. He currently lives in Reese, Michigan with his fiancé Sherry and her two children.