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San Diego Comic of the Month: Mike Vinn

Former Marine finds success in comedy

  • Mike Vinn
  • Mike Vinn
  • Mike Vinn
  • Mike Vinn
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I first met comedian Mike Vinn in the summer of 2005, at The La Jolla Comedy Store's open mic. Vinn had recently served time as a Corporal in the United States Marines and was transitioning into civilian life which ultimately led him to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a stand-up comedian.

Born and raised on the burly streets of Chicago’s south side, Vinn grew up a resilient and street wise youth that was fascinated with stand-up at a young age. “When I was 8 years old, I was supposed to be asleep,” Vinn explains from the office of The Comedy Store as he prepares to host his third annual Toys for Tots charity show. “I decided to sneak and watch some T.V. and ended up watching Howie Mandel’s Watusi Tour. I thought it was the funniest thing in the world. Ever since then I was like, ‘I want do that. I can do that.’”

After graduating from Chicago’s Curie High School, Vinn signed up for the Marines when he was still a teenager. “I joined [The Marines] in October 1997.” Vinn ruminates. “I had to get my mom’s permission because I was still 17. I was a senior in high school. Two weeks after I graduated on July 7, I left Chicago and flew to MCRD San Diego. After I graduated boot camp I went to Camp Pendleton.”

After two Westpacs and five years in the Corp, Vinn eventually reached a Corporal ranking, before leaving the military to pursue his dreams in stand-up comedy. After a year of honing his chops on The Comedy Store’s open mic night, Vinn was eventually hired by the club and gradually rose through the ranks, much like he did in the Marines. Vinn currently serves as talent coordinator and handles some of the office work at The La Jolla Comedy Store and also works as a bartender on busy nights.

It’s the behind the scenes work experience combined with the all-too-valuable stage time that has helped Vinn develop as a performer over the years. “It’s not all jokes,” Vinn says of his training at The Comedy Store. “There’s a whole business side to it. It teaches you to be a better comic. Especially working here and being surrounded by comedy all the time. You learn more and understand how to do more.”

Vinn’s act has steadily grown over the years, with his material often touching on aspects of his time spent in the Marines, human sexuality and everyday observations seen through his personal perspective on reality. Vinn performs regularly at The Comedy Store in La Jolla, where he will celebrate seven years of performing comedy in February 2012. 

Follow Mike Vinn on Facebook and support the San Diego comedy scene.