At 6’2 with blond hair that adds another three inches, it’s hard to miss Greg Mania. If that wasn’t enough, his gold lamé jacket and stenciled hair would definitely catch your attention.
Mania (and yes, that’s his real name) and I met through Facebook. I started following his hilarious one-liners and jokes, often reading them out loud to my roommates. After a few months of internet stalking, a few things were clear: 1. Greg Mania is one of the funniest comedians on the internet. And 2. Greg Mania has a weird obsession with Yankee Candle.
When he invited me to meet in-person, I was expecting an over-the-top, self-absorbed comedian obsessed with his own voice. I was surprised to find a quiet and kind guy who listened as much as he talked. Not only is he a talented, hard-working comedian, he’s an all-around good person. I was able to sit down and interview him to talk about his upcoming book, comedy, and of course, Yankee Candle.
Olive: Let’s start with the coolest thing about you: hair stencils. You literally stencil pictures into your hair, how?
Mania: (Laughs) First you have design the stencil and then it’s just black hairspray from a Halloween store. “Just” – I say that like I’m just peeling a potato. But simple in theory!
Olive: I’ve never seen that done before! It’s cool, but it’s definitely not actually the coolest thing about you. So let’s talk about comedy. Why did you become a comedian?
Mania: I love to perform. I wanted to be on Broadway. I used to do ballet and studied the Fosse style. I tried to sing and that didn’t work out.
Olive: Me too! My singing voice ruined my stage career. Maybe comedy is the backup for everyone who has failed at being on Broadway, like, you fail your way into comedy.
Mania. That’s exactly what comedy is, failing your way into being funny. So I couldn’t do Broadway but I still wanted to perform. I wanted to explore the performative nature online. So I started telling jokes on Twitter and writing humorous essays on my blog. For whatever reason, my blog started becoming pretty popular on my college campus. People at Hofstra started recognizing me and that’s how it all started.
Olive: It’s interesting because you were running this blog, but you were also pretty serious about academics too, right?
Mania: Yeah, I wanted to do well academically, even when I was a club kid.
Olive: You were a Club Kid? What does that even mean?
Mania: NYC has such an iconic nightlife scene. There’s the queer scene and the punk scene, any scene you can think of — it has it! I was in to disco and high heels. I was always an eccentric dresser but I didn’t know where I could go to find people who would appreciate that. I knew it wasn’t Applebee’s in New Jersey. So when I was 19, I started coming in to the city to find bars and nightclubs where I could dance. I was fully immersed in the nightlife scene. I was out every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday and I was Go-go dancing.
Olive: Wait, what?
Mania: It started as a joke. We were at Nurse Bettie’s, a pinup bar on the Lower East Side, when one of my friends jokingly said I should Go-go. So I got on stage and started casually dancing. That became the name of the act, “Casual Go-go.” I started showing up in costumes and dancing on stage, trying to be sexy every Monday night.
Olive: That’s hilarious and ridiculous. Speaking of hilarious, tell me about your book.
Mania: It’s called Born to Be Public and it’s coming out in 2017. It chronicles my journey…ugh, journey, so hack to say journey in 2016! But it chronicles my journey from go-go dancing to my career in writing comedy.
Olive: The book is about your life and in comedy, you air your dirty laundry in public. How has that affected your relationships?
Mania: Online me is zany and over-the top. Real life me is a little shy. My main commitment is to my relationships. They always come first. I’ll never exploit them for material. People think they’re aren’t boundaries in comedy and I disagree. I don’t want to hurt people.
Olive: I totally agree. You’re working on a movie too?
Mania: I am! We are less than a week from shooting. It’s my first feature film that I wrote with my best friend Dean Dempsey and it’s called Deadman’s Barstool. I’m playing a small-time hustler and scammer named Jack. I even cut my hair off and have a mullet now.
Olive: No more hair stencils!
Mania: Just for a few months.
Olive: If someone wanted to learn more about you, your book or movie, where should they look?
Mania: I can be summoned by arranging the yarn at Jo-Ann Fabric into a pentagram. Or they can check out all of my stuff at www.Greg-mania.com
Olive: Last question: What’s the deal with Yankee Candle?
Mania: I’m their brand ambassador! They just don’t pay me. YET. Also, I’m obsessed with my apartment smelling nice, you know, in case someone comes over. No one likes someone with a smelly apartment!