Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Backstage with Mutzie

When I started writing these conversations, or interviews, I had no idea just how much fun they’d be. Yes, I enjoy writing in general, obviously, but having the chance to get to know these people a little better and sharing some insight has been rewarding to say the least. I’m still surprised at some of the interesting tidbits I learn, even though by now I should expect such revelations.

Like Marc Rubbén, I met Mutzie on the Carnival Conquest while doing a Western Caribbean cruise, probably back in 2009 or so. It might’ve even been on the same cruise. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. Since there are typically four comedians on a seven day cruise, odds are that I met Mutzie on the first half of the cruise and Marc on the second, just based on my recollection.


Photo courtesy of Mutzie


I know for sure that our first exposure to Mutzie was his family show. Comedians on the Carnival ships do both a family show early in the evening and an adults only show later. Towards the end of his family show, Mutzie called for the house lights to be brought up and asked all the kids in the audience to raise their hands. He then looked around, and said something like “OK, all the kids who raised your hands, keep your hands up if you are here with your parents.”

The vast majority kept their hands up. He then said “For those with your hands still raised, give your parents a hug, right now. One of these days you’ll want to hug your parents and they won’t be here. I still wish I could hug my mom.”

Wow…..

Even now, about seven years later, I still get chills just thinking about it. Not knowing Mutzie at the time, and sitting in a comedy show, I never expected to hear something so profound, and so beautiful. As I came to find out, after getting to know Mutzie better, that pretty much shows what a kind hearted soul he is, or what I’d describe as “Classic Mutzie.” After his show, I wanted to thank him for doing that with the kids. I knew he had another show to do later, so I’d make it short and let him relax before his next set. That was the plan, anyway.

As the crowd slowly made its way out the door, I walked up to him and introduced myself. I told him how much I appreciated what he said to the kids, and mentioned how much I missed my late father. Not wanting to take up any more of his time, I started to leave and he asked me about my father. We talked a little, and then a little more, then a little more. Cindy was giving me that “Let’s go, and leave the man alone” look. Mutzie would have none of that, though, and kept the conversation going until it was time for the next comedian to go on stage. “Hey, man, look me up on Facebook,” he said, as we parted ways.

Of course I looked him up on Facebook and sent a friend request when we got back from our cruise. We kept in touch via Facebook and e-mail, and as time is want to do, the months turned in to years. We had another cruise booked where Mutzie was initially slated to perform, but schedules change and we missed him by about a week. Bummer. We never could get our cruises synchronized with Mutzie’s schedule, and a couple of years ago he stopped doing shows on the Carnival ships and focused on land based shows. 

Mutzie is a man of faith and from what I know of him, his natural talents would’ve suited him quite well had he entered the ministry instead of what he does now. Before doing comedy full time, he worked in auto sales and was a law enforcement officer for several years. He can also claim experience as a pizza delivery specialist in Mexico! (Yes, you’ll read more about this shortly.)

As I wrote in a previous blog when I interviewed Chef Kevin Templet, Cindy and I also hung out with Mutzie, and we were able to get caught up from the last few years. Mutzie and we stayed at the same hotel in Thibodaux, so he dropped by our room and we went to lunch. I thought we’d visit at lunch, get caught up on the last couple of years, then I’d meet with Chef Kevin for his interview, head back to the hotel to freshen up, then off to dinner and the show. After the show, we’d hang out with Mutzie a little more and I would have enough material to write his interview.

Mutzie + Fremins = Great Times!



We drove to “downtown” Thibodaux and decided on Spahr’s Seafood. It was surprisingly quiet for lunchtime, which made for easy conversation. Since we were going to have a large dinner that evening, I ordered their hushpuppies as an appetizer and a half-order of the catfish chips (Think of a flat catfish “nugget” here, and you’ll be close.). Everything was delicious, and had we not had plans for dinner, I definitely could’ve had more of both the hushpuppies and catfish chips. I’m glad the restaurant wasn’t very full, as that gave us all the time we needed to visit without feeling like we were taking up space for other customers.

All too quickly my appointment with Chef Kevin arrived, so I walked over to Fremin’s while Cindy and Mutzie drove to our hotel to relax. After I finished my interview with Chef Kevin, Cindy picked me up and we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. After a wonderful dinner, we headed upstairs for Mutzie’s show. He had just finished his early show, so we enjoyed a drink before his late show. In true Fremin’s fashion, Cindy and I had a table for two in a fantastic spot. Mutzie as usual put on a terrific show and had the entire room roaring with laughter. About the time Mutzie finished his show, the restaurant was closing up for the evening. I ran into Chef Kevin, who had come upstairs to watch some of Mutzie’s show after he finished dinner service. He told me that he usually tries to catch a little of the show if time permits. Once the crowd thinned out, Mutzie led us out a back door and around to where we were parked. We decided to meet back in our hotel room for a final chat.

What follows is taken from our lunch visit as well as our post show chat. I did have a few follow up questions for Mutzie, which he answered via e-mail. As usual, I tagged myself as “PN,” and Mutzie as, well, “Mutzie.”

PN: Mutzie, it’s so good to finally be able to sit down with you and visit. First things first, though. It’s no secret that your given name is Daniel Forestier. How did you get the name “Mutzie?”

Mutzie: I've been called Mutzie my entire life. When I was born my parents took me to show me to my grandparents. They had a maid, when she saw me she said "he looks like a little Mutzie." My parents never knew the meaning and my mom made up the spelling and it stuck. While working on a Carnival ship I asked a German crew member if Mutzie meant anything in German and she said it's slang for "little sweetheart."

PN: So it’s not just a stage name, then?

Mutzie: (laughing) Oh, no! Even my family calls me Mutzie. If you asked any of my school friends if they knew “Daniel,” they wouldn’t know who you were talking about. Of course, my kids call me “dad,” though.

PN: Based on your website and Facebook posts, it looks like you stay fully booked. Do you perform more in clubs or churches these days?

Mutzie: Right now it’s mostly clubs. I do shows for churches as they ask me to, if I’m available.

PN: I guess since you do only “clean” comedy now that it’s not hard to switch between a club show and a church show?

Mutzie: Not at all! There’s really no difference between my shows at a comedy club and a church. I only do clean comedy, and the biggest difference is I do more bible based material in church.

PN: For a few years you kept fully booked on Carnival ships, with the occasional land show when you weren’t on a ship. Now that you are solely land based, I know I speak for myself and many other of my fellow cruisers when I say I really miss seeing you perform when we cruise.


Photo courtesy of Mutzie

Mutzie: Thanks, buddy! It was a tough decision, but I had to do it.

PN: I know there’s a certain orphanage in Mexico that misses you as well. How did that get started, anyway?

Author’s note: When Mutzie was active with Carnival, he would organize a pizza delivery “event” to an orphanage in Progreso with passengers on the ship via his Facebook page.

Mutzie: It all started out with me just walking around Progreso one day and seeing a homeless person ask for food. I knew there was a food mission there in Progreso, and that gave me the idea to take them lunch. There’s a Domino’s Pizza in Progreso, so I bought a couple and took them to the mission. They were so thankful for this small gesture that it really touched me.


Photo courtesy of Mutzie

You know I sold CDs at my shows on the ships, and at this point I really don’t need the little bit of money it brings in. I started telling those attending my show that the proceeds from every CD purchased would go to buying pizzas for the orphanage. I told everyone, though, that they were welcome to come help out whether they bought a CD or not. Many times some of the people would put up even more money while we were there to buy even more pizzas. The response was crazy! Initially would have as many as fifty people going with me, helping buy pizzas and deliver them….fifty! It grew and grew. We had 152 people with me once and we delivered 154 pizzas. Sometimes we would have a hundred pizzas to give to the orphanage. With that many, we could also feed some of the locals as well. It was so fun to do this, and my fans totally got into it as well. The response got so big that Carnival had to caution me about associating this with them.


Photo courtesy of Mutzie


PN: Wait, are you saying Carnival didn’t want to be associated with something like this? Why not? That would be great PR!

Mutzie: Oh, they loved the idea of it, don’t get me wrong. It was just that it could be a liability for them if a guest got hurt while doing this. They (Carnival) had to ensure that guests knew this was something they were doing on their own, and that Carnival couldn’t be responsible if they got hurt.


It's a pizza parade!
Photo courtesy of Mutzie


PN: OK, that makes sense, I guess. I would’ve thought that Carnival would’ve tried to carry this on after you left, though.

Mutzie: Remember they still do a lot with St. Jude’s though, buddy. It’s all good. And check this out, I set up a gofundme page called Operation Merry Christmas for homeless families in Jacksonville, Florida this year.

Author’s note: Clicking the link above will take you to the GoFundMe page Mutzie set up.

PN: Now that you are exclusively land based, what do you do when you aren’t performing, or traveling to a show?

Mutzie: I sleep! (laughs) No kidding! Like most performers, I’m mainly a night person, and have trouble sleeping right after a show, especially a good show. I still have that rush I have to come down from, so it could be 3 or 4 in the morning before I can actually sleep.

I help my kids with their snowball stand when I can. Mainly I like to watch sports, though, especially football. Roll Tide!

PN: You live in Mississippi and don’t go camping, or hunt or fish on your time off?

Mutzie: Nah, I’m a city boy! I’m perfectly happy staying at home.

PN: You mentioned having to come down from your rush after a good show. How do you deal with a “flat” or low energy room?

Mutzie: That’s almost never the case with my shows. As you know, I’m very interactive with the audience. I’m pretty good about picking out a few who I can interact with and that naturally drives up the energy of the room. Laughter is infectious and it takes just a couple to get things really going. After that, it’s easy to keep the room going.

PN: So how do you manage to keep your energy level up if you are doing several shows in a row?

Mutzie: Because it’s fun to make people laugh! I really enjoy what I do, and nothing beats having a room full of people laughing and enjoying what you have to say. All through school I was the class clown and I guess I never grew out of it.

PN: I’m glad you didn’t!

Now that you've been doing this for a long time, what advice would you give newcomers to your field?

Mutzie: I tell new comics to perform every chance they get. The only way to know if you can do it and if you even really want to is to jump up and do it. It's like dancing, I can tell you how to move your hands and arms, but if you don't have rhythm, it's not dancing. You can't teach someone how to be funny.

PN: If you weren’t a comedian, what would be your ideal vocation?

Mutzie: I would be a Pastor or a school teacher/football coach. My mom was a teacher.

PN: Really? I didn’t know your mom was a teacher. I could easily see you as either a pastor or a coach.

Suppose you won a multi-million dollar lottery. Would you still perform or would you retire?

Mutzie: Oh, I’d still perform, but cut back some so I could spend more time with my grandson. I love it too much to just totally quit.

PN: Mutzie, this has been a blast! Thank you so much for hanging out and answering all these questions. Any last thoughts or comments you’d like to share?

Mutzie: Thanks for taking the time to ask me a few questions my friend. My favorite part of performing is meeting people and making new friends. You and your wife are my real friends now, not just Facebook buddies. You do an awesome job on your blogs and it's an honor to be the topic of one. God bless you and keep entertaining us through your blogs. Also, from the title of your blog, I assume you are left handed. I'm left handed. I have an interesting fact about being left handed. Since George Washington through Barack Obama, we have had 44 different Presidents. Only 5 have been right handed. Donald Trump makes it 6 out of 45. He's right handed. Although I'm sure he can text with both hands because surely he's worn out one of his hands with his 3 am twitter rants every morning.

PN: Wow, thanks for those kind remarks! Yes, I’m a “natural” lefty. I write, eat and shoot left handed, but do many other things right handed. I throw a football right handed, and when I played golf I played right handed. I guess that’s just being a lefty growing up in a right handed world.


Hanging out in the hotel, chatting away



This wraps up my conversation with Mutzie. I hope y’all enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. If you ever get the chance to see Mutzie perform in person, I urge you to do so. You’ll be glad you did.

Mutzie is very active in social media, especially Facebook. Want to get in touch with him? Here are a few ways to do just that:
  
Public contact info:


Next up, I’m going to write about one of my favorite times of year: Christmas. Also on tap is another interview that I did with Caroline Picard that I think y’all will like. I’ll post Caroline’s interview after my "Christmas" blog. I enjoyed visiting with her as much as I did with Mutzie. She's a classy lady and fun to be around.

Do you have any questions or comments? Please feel free to leave them below and I’ll be happy to answer them.

Until next time…..


carpe cerevisi