Elvis Mujić dropped in and introduced himself at Folio Weekly HQ last week. The Michigan-based guerrilla comedian was prepping a Jacksonville residency of sorts, which begins next week. Mujić is performing a series of donation-only stand-up shows at shelters and other venues (Fly's Tie, Shantytown Pub, Tent Hookah and Choppers), all benefitting people experiencing homelessness. He also planted a donation bin in our Downtown atrium. The project is dubbed The Socks and Undies Tour, because that's the price of admission. An interesting idea! We thought we'd ask him some questions.
Magid: Who are your comedic influences? Who did you stay up late to watch on television when you were growing up?
Mujić: Currently Donald Trump, one of the funniest comedians working right now! Growing up, I watched anything on Comedy Central—and I had funny friends. I remember going to my friend's house, and he played Dave Chappelle's Killin' Them Softly. I was amazed that something like that even existed. Like, they're just going to sit there and listen to him talk?
What was going on in your life when you took to the stage and discovered your talent?
Nothing! Wasted a full scholarship, not sober, on probation, and living with my parents. My first open mic was at Thistle Coffee House in Detroit. There were seven people in the audience, including two crackheads. My friend Brad was with me, and we both thought it was obvious I should keep going. Later that night, we watched a fight break out at a bowling ally. It was hilarious.
Comedy can be cathartic for the audience and performer alike. What do you hope to achieve when you step on stage (for yourself and your audience)?
My main goal is to be funny. I don't like agenda-driven comedy. It's nice when a point is made, but having fun and being funny is my focus. Also, I thoroughly enjoy messing with people.
You've traveled all over the country in your van to perform. What do you do to stay sane on the road?
I avoid the constant need to be entertained (cell phone). I exercise, stay organized, keep my word, and take opportunities to try new things. But most importantly, I don't back down from fights at laundromats. Pregnant women, children, the elderly— I am not afraid of you!
What inspired this Socks and Undies Tour?
Seeing homeless people all over the country. It's hard to ignore, and I got tired of only performing for drunk people. The crowd I'm starting to attract now is what I've always wanted. They care about others, and I enjoy being around them. I also perform at homeless shelters and that has been the most meaningful thing I've ever done as a comedian.
Do you set up collection bins in all the cities you tour through? How does it work?
Yes. I look for people that want to help, rather than try and convince them they should. Locally owned businesses are best. A city the size of Jacksonville takes a little over a week to organize. First, I schedule performances at shelters and then set up the bins. The shows always come together if I focus on the first two. It takes a lot of persistent effort and little sleep.
OK, we're hooked. Where can we go to learn more and support your efforts?
ElvisComedy.com or @elviscomedy on IG and Twitter. If anyone has suggestions or wants to help, I'm open to it.
Gabrielle Magid is also a comedian with a cause. She is the founder of Stronger Than Stigma, a Jacksonville-based nonprofit that promotes millennial mental health.