Colonie native part of stoned-comedians tour coming to Albany

Fuze Box in Albany hosting 'Gateway' tour on Friday

Photo of Steve Barnes

Mike Masilotti gets paid to get stoned.

At least once a week for the past several years, the Colonie native and professional comedian has consumed various forms of marijuana in a quantity that he calls “a lot more than I’d normally be comfortable with” and then tries to tell jokes in front of an audience.

For a week and a half this month, he’s doing it every night as part of a seven-state, 11-date East Coast tour that goes from Florida to Boston. Called "The Gateway Show," in a nod to cannabis’ hotly debated reputation among some as a precursor to use of harder drugs, the comedy evening comes to The Fuze Box in Albany on Friday night.

Promotional material says:

If you go

"The Gateway Show"

With Billy Anderson, Mike Masilotti and others


When: Doors at 9:30 p.m., show at 10 p.m. Friday

Where: The Fuze Box, 12 Central Ave., Albany

Tickets: $15 in advance or $20 at the door for general admission, $20/$25 for reserved seating


“Stand-up comedians take to the stage and tell their BEST jokes, then they go to an undisclosed location to get WAY too high, only to come back to the stage and ATTEMPT to tell more jokes completely baked.”

“It’s a great experience and certainly the most unique thing I’ve ever done,” says Masilotti, 34, chatting on the phone Tuesday morning from a tour stop in Washington. “I feel more open and honest with the audience,” he says, and with the majority of patrons high as well, “It’s this perfect dance: I’m so vulnerable and the crowds are so good, so ready for you to talk to them. You look out, and it’s all smiles.”

Masilotti, who graduated from South Colonie schools and attended Hudson Valley Community College and local trade schools before relocating to the West Coast a decade ago, is on tour with Billy Anderson, creator and host of "The Gateway Show." Held monthly for a number of years in Los Angeles and now a weekly feature at the Hollywood Improv club when not on tour, "The Gateway Show" is only partly about comedians telling jokes, says Anderson.

“We say during the show that sometimes it’s insanely funny, and sometimes it’s just art,” says Anderson, who hosts the show. It features him, Masilotti and three other comics, some local to each venue along the tour.

“They’re naturally funny people,” he says of the comics, and when they perform while extremely high, for a crowd that understands the premise of the show and may also be under the influence themselves, “Their vulnerability and natural funniness comes out, and you can see their most honest thought processes.” Anderson continues, “You’re watching somebody break down all the barriers.”

Says Masilotti, “It’s really about talking honestly and sharing stories.” Or random musings. In a video of a set performed after Masilotti had consumed a "huge handful" psychoactive mushrooms, he and the audience laugh often as he says things like, “Home is where your house is.” The video drew hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. In a juxtaposition that amused him, Masilotti found out while on a tour dedicated to getting high that he's been selected to perform a set and special to be shown online at a Utah comedy club that doesn't serve alcohol and specializes in clean comedy.

Masilotti says he consumes cannabis daily, in edible and smokeable forms, but the level ingested during "The Gateway Show" is of significantly greater magnitude. “It’s like, Let’s see how high I can get,” he says. “I think of myself as someone who can handle a lot, but what we do for the show is ridiculous. It’s like the difference between drinking a beer and pounding a whole bottle (of vodka).”

Complete coverage of marijuana issues in New York

He does not, he says, consume to such excess prior to non-"Gateway Show" comedy gigs or in his other job, as owner of a podcast studio in Los Angeles, where he now lives.

“It wouldn’t be good,” he says. In the context of "The Gateway Show," however, “We always say it’s the closest you get to being the comic you want to be.”

Smoking, of any kind, is not allowed inside the venues that host the show. But, promotional material says, “We DO take an intermission for a reason and what you do once you leave the venue is your own business. We won't stop you and we aren't snitches.”

Anderson says "The Gateway Show" has never had a problem with authorities, either in states where recreational cannabis use is legal, like California and Oregon, or where it is fully illegal, including South Carolina, where "The Gateway Show" was performed twice last week. Marijuana has been decriminalized in New York, and for the second year Gov. Andrew Cuomo has included in his state budget a proposal to legalize recreational use in the state.

“We’re always very particular about it not happening in the venue,” says Anderson, “and we’re definitely not trying to cause any problems for anyone — the comics, the venue or the audience.”

As for the name of "The Gateway Show," it is, Masilotti says, both a good-natured joke and a poke at the anti-cannabis hysteria of decades past.

It hasn’t been a gateway for him. He’s not doing heroin or meth. Just pot often, sometimes overabundantly. “My mom and dad don’t love it,” he says. “But I’ve been smoking for more than half my life, and I’m OK.” • 518-454-5489 • • @Tablehopping •