Mike O’Connell

10 Comics to Watch

The Chicago native, 30, still prefers the comfort of bulge-hugging, polyester jumpsuits. But in the decade since he first battered audiences on the standup circuit with his frenzied music-based performances delivered in an indiscernible European accent, he has started wearing regular pants — sometimes.

O’Connell’s ever-evolving album, “Unemployable” — which he custom burns for each paying customer — offers everything from his classic heavy-metal educational songs for toddlers to his latest off-color efforts, such as “Asian Babies” and “Sexual Psychic.”

As his record title suggests, O’Connell’s work-world failures provide consistent fodder for his comedy. Fireable offenses have included adding gin to nonfat lattes, crying too much, math errors, inhaling whipped cream propellant, chortling at authority figures and masturbating into warm tortillas.

Buzz: While he might not be Starbucks material, O’Connell has plenty of focus when it comes to his entertainment career — which has been sparked of late by his breakout musicvid on YouTube.com, “What’s It Gonna Be?” released last April.

The hip-hop-fueled vid features O’Connell as a cheesy lounge lizard serenading perspective dates with lurid come-ons; L.A. circuit regular Dr. Ken kicks in with the chorus.

MTV has now asked the pair to take the concept to the next level. It also wants O’Connell to further develop his Internet “life coach” character, Conrad Besselheimer. Comedy Central, meanwhile, is onboard with a docu series O’Connell is developing with his journalist brother, Chris, titled “The Hall of Unknown Geniuses.”

On the feature end, “The Living Wake,” which marks O’Connell’s first starring role (he had a bit part in Brian De Palma’s “Black Dahlia” last year), will make the festival rounds this season.

O’Connell’s inspirations include “intense actor dudes,” such as David Niven, Richard Burton, Orson Welles and James Mason. “I always think it’s very funny when someone speaks boldly,” he says.

References: “He’s very strong and determined in everything he approaches,” says New York-based filmmaker Sol Tryon, who directed O’Connell in “The Living Wake.” “He comes across as being very raw, but it’s all very calculated. He’s looking to make the audience think and listen to what he’s saying and react, not just do some sort of gag to make them laugh.”

Fallback plan: He doesn’t have one. After going to great lengths to sabotage any other career possibilities, O’Connell says he has no intention of doing anything else. “That’s why I’ve been (sleeping) on a couch for two years. I decided to burn my bridges before building them.”

Click here to see the other comics on the 10 to watch list.

Click here for the Top Ten Comics to Watch photo gallery

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