“Serious comic” would normally be regarded as an oxymoron. But that’s exactly what you get when you listen to the relatable, funny and clean comedy of bowtie-sporting Mike Goodwin, currently competing on America’s Got Talent.
Goodwin started working at age 13, served in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves 12 years, and he then held positions like student orientation leader and resident assistant in college. He planned to be a higher education mentor for students who don’t have many resources or opportunities.
Stand-up comedy changed everything.
“I guess [it was] similar to my salvation,” Goodwin said. “When I found Christ, it filled a gap that I was trying to fill in other ways. Comedy and being on stage gave me the creative outlet for these thoughts and ideas that didn’t have anywhere to go.”
In his early days of performing, Goodwin understood how challenging the field could be. He was cautious and patient, doing comedy part-time while working other jobs to provide for his family.
‘A done deal’
During the 2013–2014 Christmas break, Goodwin was looking for an entry-level admissions counselor position when his wife, Rozalynn, suggested he pursue comedy full-time. He discussed it with his pastor, Herbert Bailey, and with his blessing and his wife’s support, it was “pretty much a done deal.”
The pressure of performing in front of a live audience, millions of TV viewers and four critical judges could be a lot to handle for a husband and father of two — but one of Goodwin’s favorite Scriptures is, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Ps. 119:165).
“It’s so easy to be swayed by the opinions of others,” Goodwin admitted. “I love the word of God, and it says I have great peace. So regardless of what happens around me and sometimes internally, I can have peace.”
The comedian has opened for John Crist and Tim Hawkins, participated in a USO Air Force and Army tour, worked a K-LOVE cruise, recorded a DryBar comedy special, played at church and corporate events and more.
In his early years of performing Goodwin realized the focus of his comedy was on himself. Over time he has matured in his faith and shifted that focus from trying to be cool to ministering and blessing his audience.
“I don’t come to the stage knowing everything,” Goodwin stressed. “I come open to what God wants to do. I come open to what needs to happen. I’m prepared. I’ve done my work to have a routine that’s worthy of somebody’s hour, but I still stay open.”
“I’m far more patient with myself and my life than I was as a younger man. … I’m gonna walk this path. Wherever the path leads me, that’s where I’m going.”
When Goodwin toured with Up Standing Comedy, organized by Timmy Boyle, the comedians performed in small venues like churches and coffee houses. The last show was at a firehouse.
“There might have been nine people in there. It was going to be the last time [the tour] would go to that particular city because the numbers weren’t growing. … So, it was like the farewell show. … That was one of the best nights of my life — performing comedy with those nine people in a random fire department.”
Goodwin tries to record all his shows on his phone. But this time, he just wanted to get it over with and leave.
“It was the most amazing thing, with nine people. It taught me a powerful lesson: You perform for the people who are there, not for the people who are not.”
Goodwin was inspired to try out for America’s Got Talent during the pandemic. Before the shutdown, he didn’t have time to explore other opportunities, but after slowing down, he recognized what he wanted to do — and decided to audition.
He now knows a lot of preparation goes into a major contest like AGT.
“You have to get your material approved. … You submit it and it goes through legal. But before that you have to take a set that you’ve been doing — 45 minutes to hour-long sets — and figure out which jokes you extract to do on national television for two minutes. It takes a lot of editing.”
Celebrity isn’t the goal
Win or lose AGT, Goodwin knows he’ll be okay. He hopes being on the show increases his ability to get work, but doesn’t care about being a celebrity.
“I want people to know that I’m out here and I’m an excellent choice for their events. I’m an excellent choice to spotlight as a role model,” Goodwin said. “My wife and I just celebrated 21 years of marriage; I’m a father; I’m a brother; I’m a son. I want to be excellent in my craft and I want to walk righteously before my God.
“I want you to leave entertained and inspired when you have watched one of my shows. I really do enjoy the craft of stand-up. I really do enjoy being in front of an audience that came, received healing and were blessed and open to the possibility of wonder. It’s always exciting to me.”
Goodwin’s comedy can be found on YouTube and more information is available at https://www.comedianmikegoodwin.com.