With about a year to his credit, Azmi Abdel-Hamid (better known as “Ozmi Osbourne”) has no problem admitting he’s new to doing stand-up. However, he’s no stranger to the Milwaukee comedy scene. Before he stepped on stage for the first time last November, the comedy fan was a fixture in the audience at a variety of local stand-up showcases and open mics. Eventually, he took the leap, grabbed a microphone, and funneled his interest in comedy into his own material.
Osbourne is something of a regular on Milwaukee stages now, having no qualms offering up intimate, embarrassing, and entirely-too-revealing material to friends and strangers alike. Before he describes the exact size and contours of his genitals at Riverwest Public House on Sunday afternoon, Milwaukee Record asked Osbourne about his stand-up start, his on-stage honesty, and how spending a summer in Palestine gave him new material.
Milwaukee Record: What prompted your beginning in stand-up?
Ozmi Osborne: Honestly, I started coming out to shows because I’ve known Sammy Arechar before he started doing stand-up. He’d always tell me to come see shows and I was never able to make them. Then one night, I was finally able to make one and I was kind of hooked at that point. I was coming out to more and more of them. Besides being influenced by Sammy, Joe Murphy was like, “You kind of want to go up, don’t you?” I thought about it, started coming out to more shows, then I gave it a shot.
MR: It seems like you aren’t afraid to say intensely personal things on stage. I’ve heard you give a room a very detailed description of your penis. What’s behind that sort of fearlessness?
OO: I don’t know, to be totally honest with you. I was like, “I might as well be honest about it and write some jokes about it.
MR: I know it’s a broad thing to ask, but would describe your humor as honest or revealing? Or what are you trying to get across when you’re on stage?
OO: If there’s something I want to say, I’ll just say it. Don’t get me wrong, there are certain things about me that I don’t mind saying. Of course there are things I won’t say. I guess ultimately I’ll just say whatever I want and worry about it later. I try to be courteous, but it just comes to getting whatever I want to say out there.
MR: You mentioned earlier that your initial exposure came through Sammy. Now he’s in Chicago and all these other people—Liz [Ziner], Allison [Dunne], [Steve] Breese, and all these other people—have left. What do you feel the current state of local stand-up is, and are you seeing this mass exodus as an opportunity to get more exposure and more time on stage?
OO: Yeah, I mean I definitely do see it that way. It was kind of strange at first because I’m still relatively new to the scene, but I was at Karma’s mic recently looking around and it was pretty much all new faces. You do miss everyone who moved away, but at the same time, it is exciting because there are more opportunities for me to get up there and for people to see me.
MR: It seems like you’re getting on more showcases, including the one this weekend. Now that you’re a more prominent part of these things, is there a certain expectation to really tighten up your material?
OO: Yeah, I guess it’s kind of pushing me a little more to focus on things and try to get more organized as well and focus on some of my bad habits as far as being on stage.
MR: This summer you went to Palestine most of this summer, right? I assume you didn’t perform there, but did you get any new material out of it? By leaving your normal environment, did you get any new perspective that lends itself to new jokes or premises or whatever?
OO: I got a few new jokes out of it. One joke that I’ve been telling recently is a result of my trip overseas. Last time I was there was like 10 years ago and obviously 10 years ago I wasn’t doing stand-up. I was like 12 years old, so I wasn’t paying as much attention to what goes on over there. Now that I’m a little older and I’m doing stand-up, you always kind of analyzing every little thing like, “Hey, I can make a joke out of this.” Because of that, I do have a couple new jokes.
MR: And there are some huge issues over there, but if you can get humor out of that, it can only help. You’re about a year into stand-up now. What are some goals you have for the next year and in the long-term?
OO: Really, I just want to start doing more mics in general. To be honest, I haven’t really been as diligent with it as I should be. I want to do more mics and hit neighboring cities like Madison, Rockford, and Chicago, and just try to get up on more showcases, see where it takes me, and have more fun with it.
Ozmi Osbourne will perform at Jazz Gallery tonight with Carly Malison, Bo Triplex And His Beautiful Band, and more at 6 p.m. tonight, and as part of the Sorry Not Sorry Halloween Hangover at Riverwest Public House on Sunday, November 1. The free show starts at 1 p.m. Sammy Arechar, Phil Davidson, Matty Field, Bekah Cosgrove, Colin Bowden, Marisa Lange, and Addie Blanchard will also perform.