During college, Michael "Chicken" Roof volunteered at a nursing home pulling bingo balls.
"They had a mike," he says. He couldn't get any stand-up gigs, so he told jokes between numbers."This is the best," he says, patting the stage at the Comedy House Theatre on Washington Road. He's the club's opening act for the next two weeks.
Chicken got his nickname in pre-kindergarten when he was sent home for making chicken noises.
"I wasn't bad. They just didn't have Ritalin," he says wearing a T-shirt picturing a dog with a big pink bubble coming out of his rump and a kid saying, "You've eaten my bubble gum again, haven't you?"
He does his version of the movie Titanic in a minute and a half and clips on gold teeth to impersonate white, suburban gangsters dancing to 2 Live Crew."I have to tone myself down when I'm off stage," he says. "I don't do anything different on stage. I'm the same 24 hours a day. I'm just a nut."
He attracts audiences in the mall by tumbling down escalators, moving aside mannequins and taking their place in storefront windows or dressing up in women's bathing suits and walking around the store.
On stage he does a one-man Jerry Springer Show , playing all the parts, slamming himself against the wall, overturning tables and knocking over drinks.
"It looks like I'm really getting hurt," he says.
Often he is.
He has chipped a tooth, and three weeks ago he broke his nose.
"Look at my knees," he says, pulling up his long denim shorts. "They're bruised. They're constantly bruised."
When he was 18, he drove an hour an a half to perform five minutes onstage at the Black Orchid, a jazz club in Tuscaloosa, Ala. He didn't get paid.
Chicken spent a year and a half playing football at the University of West Alabama. If he had a rough day he'd start squawking like a chicken in the cafeteria, climb on top of a chair and start making jokes. He won the Homecoming Serendipity talent show and then quit school to go on the road and do comedy full time.
Ultimately, he wants to be on Saturday Night Live.
"My show doesn't have a point -- just to make you laugh," he says.
He'd also like everyone to know that if they would like to "adopt him" and let him come to dinner and do a couple of loads of his laundry, he'll mow the lawn, wash your car, do the dishes or just keep you in stitches. Drop by the Comedy House if you're interested, he says.
Where: Comedy House Theatre, 2740 Washington Road
When: 8 and 10:30 tonight and Saturday night, 8 p.m. Sunday and July 14-16 and 19; 8 and 10:30 p.m. July 17 and 18.
B> How much: $5 weeknights, $8 Friday and Saturday