Returning to your hometown after you’ve become famous outside of it isn’t all ticker tape parades and keys to the city. Just ask Michael Palascak.
Palascak spent his adolescence in Wabash and went on to become a successful and oft-televised comedian. The first time he came back home after earning some national renown, a stranger stopped him on the sidewalk.
“Hey, I saw you on Comedy Central,” the stranger said, and waited a few seconds to say something else. “You were OK.”
“Thanks,” Palascak responded, and then waited the same number of seconds to say something else. “I worked my whole life on that.”
One thing hometowns will dependably do is keep you humble.
Palascak is returning on Oct. 7, to perform at the fabulously refurbished Eagles Theatre. That is something he doesn’t have to be humble about if he doesn’t want to.
The Eagles Theatre is a big step up from a barn, which is where he performed the last time he was in Wabash County. It was a fundraiser for the revitalization of Lagro.
Palascak recalled a conversation he had before the gig with a fellow Californian.
“He was like, ‘Oh, what are you doing this weekend?’ And I’m like, ‘I’m doing a show in a barn.’ And he said, ‘Well, enjoy Indiana.’”
We can only guess what, apart from barns, Indiana is known for in California.
Hopefully, Indiana is known for Palascak.
This won’t be the first time Palascak has entertained on the stage on the Eagles. When he was 8 years old, he played several small roles in a production of The Pirates of Penzance.
Wabash isn’t the city where Palascak became intrigued with comedy. His family moved to Chicago right after he graduated from high school.
During breaks from studying English at Xavier University, Palascak would go to open mics in Chicago. He used a 2006 movie called The Secret to supersize his comedy career.
It’s a documentary film about the “law of attraction,” the belief that visualizing success can bring about real success.
“I think, for standup, instead of getting on stage and wondering how it was going to go, I did my best to imagine that it was going to be a really strong set,” Palascak said. “On top of that, I started to imagine being on TV shows instead of just hoping I’d be on them or wondering if I’d ever be on one.”
Whatever one thinks about the validity of the “law of attraction,” positive thinking sure worked for Palascak.
He was in the top five of Last Comic Standing a few years back and has performed on talk shows hosted by James Corden, Stephen Colbert, Jay Leno, Craig Ferguson, and Conan O’Brien.
Yet, the biggest thing that happened to him recently is that he became a dad.
Family As Fodder
Palascak is grateful that he established his career before he started a family.
“I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to provide for him,” he said. “I was already doing that.”
His son has given him a new source of material that resonates, and will continue to resonate, with a large portion of his audience.
Something Palascak once heard Jerry Seinfeld discuss was that success can make a comic less relatable to their audience. But a man as rich and famous as Seinfeld doesn’t have the same experiences as most of the people who are likely to buy tickets to his shows.
“(Someone asked him), ‘Well, how do you fix that?’” Palascak recalled. “And he said, ‘Get married and have kids.’”
Palascak said he enjoys being a comedian now more than he did before he was a dad. Being a dad has made him much more efficient about everything involved in being a comic. He believes he is a better comic and a happier person now than he was before.
Seeking That TV Opportunity
It was always Palascak’s dream to become integrally involved in a TV series and he has gotten close several times. There was a time when a TV series was how a stand-up comic moved from the club circuit to the theater circuit, but Palascak said the pathways to success in the comedy business have diversified considerably in the streaming era.
“I think the best way for me now is to keep growing my audience as a strategy for achieving other things,” he said.