Ten Questions with Mickey Cucchiella
The 98 Rock morning show sensation sits down with Patch, talks about aliens, Big Foot, surviving the "Rapture" and more.
Mickey Cucchiella is known for his cutting, edgy jokes as much as his opinionated rants. Those who listen to the 98 Rock morning show know that Cucchiella is irked by pit bulls and religion, believes in Big Foot and aliens both, and is equally fascinated by politics and bra sizes.
He’s known for putting his female guests on the spot by asking them, “Who’s uglier, me or [morning show producer] Scott Reardon?” Well, Patch turned the tables on him this past weekend.
Cucchiella, a Fallston resident, headlined five shows at Magooby’s Joke House, a comedy club in Timonium. He was running on fumes, caffeine, and his own pure, spastic energy, between working Saturday’s Preakness and his late-night sets onstage. He’d only had two hours of sleep, but Cucchiella took a minute to regroup with Patch and answered 10 questions.
In descending order, what is most important to you: money, family or your reputation?
The most important would be my family—my wife and kids, without a doubt.
Then probably comedy, I would say, second. Radio, too. Those are kind of the same to me, just entertaining people.
Third would probably be my friends. And fourth, probably, money I guess. And not for the sense of making it—just for what it can do for other people. You know what’s funny, I’m a gambler by nature, so money can motivate me, but it’s not the most important. It may be a big motivator, to get me to do something, but for me to prioritize my life, I would not care about money. Only way after these other things.
Are you acting in character when you’re performing, or is everything out of your mouth, whether on stage or on air, pure Mickey?
Yes, it’s me, but it’s like a ridiculous version of me.
It’s like me looking at myself ridiculously. Here’s the thing: If I’m yelling, I’m probably full of s***, not to the point where I don’t believe it, but I’m like a cartoon version of myself.
I’m not going to say something where I don’t have some true, core belief in what I’m saying. I’m not going to lie on stage. But at the same time, I will exaggerate like a son-of-a-bitch, just to make it funnier. I think people forget in comedy, especially in the last 15 to 20 years, it’s gotten so serious.
You have to have this crazy point of view, and you have to try to change the world. I just do it to make people laugh. And I realize saying ridiculous things sometimes can make people laugh. Sometimes I say stuff and I mean it. And I know that when push comes to shove, and someone asks me how I really feel, I’d probably say exactly what I said. But if I have to look at the whole show, it’s a cartoon version of myself. Like me on steroids, or me drunk. No inhibitions.
So when people say, well that’s really you—well no, it’s really not. Because the real me has inhibitions. The stage allowed those, for me, to be knocked down. But off stage, I’m not going to be as rude to people, or as obnoxious. I talk about how much my kids and wife drive me insane, but, I adore them. I really do. But no one wants to hear a comedian talk about how much he loves his children. It’s not funny.
Your wife, Jaime, brings home a pit bull puppy. What do you do?
I think I’d have to sleep in the attic.
Listen, the thing about the pit bulls is this—and again, on the radio, you’re outrageous. I think my original statement was, I think every pit bull should be killed. Do I really believe that? Of course not. I’m a human being. I don’t want to see animals suffer. But, there’s a part of me that thinks, why would anyone want to own an animal that has that kind of power or strength over us?
That’s really my core argument. And the thing is, right now, pit bulls are the hot media topic, but I feel that way about rottweilers and dobermans and mastiffs. Any dog that has the ability to bite your face off, why would you even want to take that chance? I don’t understand it. To me it’s no different than bringing home a reformed rapist. Okay, maybe he’s reformed now, but, what if he slips? Why take that chance?
If you could devote a year of your life to prove without a doubt the existence of either Big Foot or aliens, which would you pick?
Aliens. If I could prove there were aliens, I would absolutely do that. But the Big Foot thing is a close second.
I’m obsessed. Simply because what drives me crazy about the Big Foot nay-sayers is how matter-of-fact they are. I’ve always said, if you don’t live your life open-minded to something, you’re going to miss it when it happens, because it’ll go right by you. So I like the idea of Big Foot. To me, it’s fascinating.
But the aliens thing, really. The core reason is because I think it would shock religious people beyond belief. It would ruin their faith. As a kid that was raised in Catholic school and knows the Bible pretty well and every story in it, I don’t believe any of it. And to be able to look at those people and go, okay can you just relax now? I believe once you prove there’s other life, our planet becomes one. It becomes even more significant, because then we’d become one. Because it’s not just white, black, Jew, Palestinian, whatever. It’s Earthlings at that point, because there’s a whole other planet out there.
If we could prove there were other life forms, we could look at how ridiculous we are, fighting with each other on the same planet. It makes no sense to me. So proving alien life is out there, I think a lot of men would check their egos. Not only is there other life, we don’t know anything about them. Are they smarter than us, bigger than us, stronger than us? So I think it would bring us together. That’s why I’d want to see aliens over Big Foot.
But Big Foot would be an amazing discovery, for me. It would be incredible. And I do believe it. I really believe there’s another species we have yet to discover. I do believe in Big Foot. I read an article that talked about marine biology, and how many life forms they discover in a year. And it’s in the thousands. And we think just because we walk on land, that we know everything that’s on it. And that’s just ridiculous to me.
You’ve said on air that you have enough friends. What does it take for someone to become your friend? And does anyone try too hard —do you get stalkers?
Yes, I do get the stalker stuff, and it’s female, and it’s weird to me.
I have it in check, like I know why they do it. Because it’s a fantasy to them, and it has nothing to do with me, it has to do with what I do. I could be Jim Smith, and they’d have these same exact stalker fantasies. Some guys fall victim to it, because they think, oh these girls love me, and they don’t love me at all.
It’s what I am.
And not as a person—it’s as a comedian or this radio personality. And that to me is really scary. I’ve never been a guy who liked someone because of the way they looked. I liked someone that made me laugh, or made me feel comfortable. And I guess being Italian, that family thing is so important. And I love having people around me that love me, and I love. So when I say I have enough friends, that’s more of a joke, that I’m sick of meeting people and getting through that awkward getting-to-know them stage. Because, that’s not really there. Because they already know everything about me. I’d have to go so deep into my personal life to be able to tell them something they don’t already know. But it’s interesting to meet people and I love hearing people’s stories, and I’ve never blown someone off in a conversation.
If anyone goes, "Hey there’s Mickey!" I turn, and I stop, and I talk. I do love people. And I love making them laugh. But it more has to do with my children. I’m very afraid of people judging my children because of what I do on stage and on the radio. So I put up a little bit of a wall, and it’s for them, really. What’s someone going to do to me, punch me in the face? I’ve been punched in the faced before.
How many people want a piece of you?
I’ve never been asked that before. A lot. And I don’t say that complaining. I say that happily because this is why I did this. I’m getting everything I wanted. I knew what it would be.
I knew it would be very grueling. I knew it would be very time-consuming. I knew it would be somewhat of an invasion of privacy. As an artist—I hate to use that word—as an artist, you have to be honest with yourself. If you want to do art, in your basement, just to do art, then do that. But if you want to do art for the masses and be successful, then there’s a lot that goes with that.
When I was a young guy, I’ll never forget, my grandfather said to me, "Don’t ever worry about people when they’re talking about you. Worry about them when they’re not." And it made sense to me as a kid. You have to matter. You have to be interesting. If you’re going to do this, you have to understand that people want to be around you, and they’re drawn to you because of what you do.
I’m also a fan, not of myself, but of what I do. I love comedians. I love entertainers. So I know what it’s like to be a fan, still. And I would never take that away from someone. Nor would I resent someone for feeling that. I have that feeling for other people, you know?
So who’s uglier, me or her [Cucchiella’s sister-in-law, his booking agent, who is a tall, breathtakingly beautiful strawberry blonde]?
Ahhh, I can’t answer that! Oh my God, I am not answering that question! I am not answering that question! It’s different to ask ladies that, though!
Oh, I can’t answer that question. I could never. And I’ll tell you why. I have never insulted a woman’s appearance in my life. My father taught me at a very young age to be insanely gentlemanly. And I instill it in my boys. And I could never answer that! I swear! I’ll let you write anything you want about me, but I could never answer that question.
I’ll tell you something truthful about women though, and I really do believe this. I don’t know how many men believe this, but I do. There’s a gigantic difference between being pretty, and being sexy. And to me, sexy is everything. Because that’s really who you are as a woman. And I don’t think that women even understand that really. Women think they have to look exactly like something to be attractive to men. That’s what I love about women. I’m a sex appeal guy. I love the sex appeal of women. And I don’t mean that like literal, physical sex. I mean the allure of it all.
But I am not answering that question!
If you made a niche in Los Angeles, where you’ve recently flown to work on television pilots, would you relocate permanently, or is Baltimore always going to be home?
That is such a tough question for me.
I mean, I’d be lying if I said absolutely no. But it would have to be life-changing money. It would have to be something where if I did it for five years, I would never work again. But to pick up and have the same life I have now, I would not do it. I absolutely would not do it.
I’ve got to be honest with you—I don’t want fame, I want success. I have a good life. I don’t want to uproot my children from their cousins, and their friends, and their school for my own selfish dream. But only if it’s something that truly is life-changing. And I mean, I love Baltimore. I’m as Baltimore as they get. I wear it on my sleeve. I’m not ashamed of it. I’ve been told by casting directors to work on my accent. And I’m like, did Joe Pesci work on his accent? It’s who I am! I’m not going to do that.
It's after 6 p.m. on Rapture Day, and yet you and I are sitting here. What does that say about us?
Listen. You’ve got to remember, Rapture Day was invented by a senile old man who was wrong [in 1994]. Religious people need a reason to believe, and faith truly is not strong enough.
That’s why you have institutions, Catholic churches that are the richest corporations in the world. I don’t believe in rapture. This planet’s been here for a billion years, and all of a sudden we believe there’s nine hours left? That’s insanity, to me.
I wouldn’t mind seeing a little disruption, though. I think a little disruption’s good. I think people need to believe in something, because the idea of not knowing is unacceptable to human beings. I’m totally fine with not knowing. I don’t know. Why do I need to know? I’m going to be here for however many years I’m here, and I don’t need to know all the answers. I don’t want to know all the answers–I think I’d enjoy it less.
So do you have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)?
I like to be distracted. Sitting there and waiting and waiting. … Oh my God, it’s so bad. It’s so bad, my ADD.
Magooby’s Joke House has been open since September and is here to stay. Owner Andrew Unger, who named Magooby’s after his two sons’ nicknames, is pleased with the regular turnout for the comedy club’s shows.
“Based on the overwhelmingly positive response we’ve gotten so far, I’d say we’re here for the long run,” said Unger. “We are averaging almost 1,000 people a week, which is twice what I was expecting we’d be averaging at this point.”