Jorge Machaen is a typical 23-year-old student, just graduated from Murray State University. His sense of humor, however, is above average.
“I just kind of like to make people laugh,” Machaen said. “It’s fun, and I have fun doing it. Comedy is my passion.”
Machaen was the driving force behind the “Funniest Night of the Month” comedy shows at Maiden Alley Cinema this fall, using most of his own money to fund the stand-up nights that included cameos by both friends and some notable names in the comedy world. Ultimately, the shows lost money, but Machaen says the stage time and experience were worth it.
“There aren’t a lot of places around here that are conducive to a comedy show,” Machaen said. “I’ve done the bar scene, and it’s hit or miss. So having that stage time and getting a crowd’s undivided attention is completely worth it.”
Although the shows in August, September and October were showcases of local talent, Machaen has in the past orchestrated several charity shows. In the spring, he was the man who got notable comedian Tim Northern to headline a show for tsunami relief in Japan. Many of the other comedy shows he produces do benefit local charities as well.
“It’s a good way to get people out, and give them something in return for their help with a cause,” Machaen said. “The show in the spring was very special for us to be able to do, and it raised a lot of money and awareness.”
After losing most of his savings on the three shows, Machaen halted the productions, although he does plan on resurrecting them come spring. Now, he is concentrating on forming a improv comedy group in Paducah. He also hopes soon to make a return trip to Los Angeles to work on the city’s comedy circuit. Machaen went to L.A. last year, a trip that helped him to hone his comedic timing.
“A lot of jokes I did here didn’t work there,” Machaen said. “I do a joke here about my family and their Mexican heritage, and everyone in L.A. kind of looks at me funny. They are all Mexican, so that’s not funny to them. I had to learn to play to the audience I was in front of.”
Machaen does say, however, that he wants to end up back in Paducah. He wants a house here, close to where he has grown up and in the town he loves. That’s why, he says, he is working so hard to make comedy work in the city.
For now, Machaen is working on the proverbial dream. He does landscaping work for his father part time, and is saving money to help fund his future. He works on material from his everyday life, from an overly-animated mother, romantic relationships, and general moments that made him laugh. He keeps his jokes relatable, and goes to open-mic nights as much as possible.
“I want to be able to do this for a living,” Machaen said. “I want to be able to live off of it. That’s my dream, and I will do whatever I have to to make it happen.”