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The Independent Critic

 Michael Joiner Interview 
Michael Joiner is funny. Very funny. A 1st Place winner of the Hollywood Improv's "Funniest Comic in L.A." in 2008 and nominated for "Comedian of the Year" in the 2010 Christian Music Hall of Fame Visionary Awards, Joiner has attracted wide praise for his routines that blend a sarcastic edginess with a devotion to clean humor.  Joiner has headlined at The Improv, The Funny Bone, The Ice House and other comedy clubs across the country while also performing at colleges nationwide. He's also written for "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."

We know without a doubt that this Gary, Indiana born actor/comedian is funny. While Joiner, who has resided in Kansas City since 1994, has had television appearances scattered throughout his entertainment career, there's no question that comedy has paid the bills. With this Friday's nationwide release of The Grace Card, that may be all about to change. Not only does The Grace Card represent Joiner's first starring role in a feature film, it's Joiner's big screen dramatic debut as Mac, a longtime bitter and jaded cop whose never been able to move on after a tragic accident claims the life of his son.

Joiner spent some time with The Independent Critic recently talking about his career, The Grace Card, what it was like starring in a drama and much more!

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

You're known as one of America's funniest "clean" comedians. Can you tell me about your experiences making "The Grace Card?" How hard was it to do drama? A lot of faith-based films go straight-to-video...did you know going into this project it was getting a nationwide release?

MICHAEL JOINER

Well, I spent 8 years in Los Angeles private coaching with some of Hollywood's most notable acting coaches, including Kevin Spacey's acting coach, John Swanbeck. So, I was totally up to the challenge of a lead role in a dramatic film. Plus, I had already played several dramatic roles in TV shows and some films.

I will have to say that right from the get go we all had very high expectations for The Grace Card….God was just opening doors left and right in every area of production, and we knew we had a beautiful script. However, it was a wonderful surprise when Sony grabbed it after the first rough cut viewing.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I've been following cast and crew as you head into opening weekend and you've done a lot of grassroots outreach in the faith community. How has the response been so far?

MICHAEL JOINER

If you go on the Facebook fan page you will see that test audiences are calling The Grace Card one of the most powerful, inspiring films they have ever seen. We have been told that it is getting the highest ratings of any faith based film ever.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I'm curious how it is for you as someone who's usually funny, and I'm sure many audiences know you as such, to be meeting fans with an entirely different side to your talent?

MICHAEL JOINER

It’s neat to be able to show them that this guy who was very serious in the film has a sense of humor, and even makes a living from it.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Can you tell me a little about you? I know that you're from Gary and been in Kansas City (which has a pretty amazing indie film movement). What got you started? Did you study the arts? Did your family think you were crazy when you first started as a comic?

MICHAEL JOINER

I started doing comedy kind of on a dare from a youth pastor who knew me as a ‘cut up” and asked me to do comedy at a talent show. I did and realized it was my calling. Soon after I started doing churches, comedy clubs, corporate events, and colleges…and making a full time living while at the same time sharpening my acting chops in theater.

I have the greatest family in the world, both my family and my in laws have been nothing but supportive of my acting and comedy pursuits.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Why do people need to see "The Grace Card?"

MICHAEL JOINER

Because everyone either knows someone who they need to extend grace to, or they themselves need it. You will be greatly touched by the story.
THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

In my opinion, "The Grace Card" is way more than a film...it's a mission to reach out. "The Grace Card" website features a variety of resources ranging from your typical Sunday School materials to counseling information and much more....It seems like from your personal website you have a strong commitment to building relationships across cultures. I have a feeling you're going to hear a lot of stories, in person and by e-mail, from your experiences here. What do you hope comes out of this experience personally and professionally? How has this film experience impacted your own faith and ministry?

MICHAEL JOINER

I hope to be able to inspire people of the story behind the story, that is, how God opened the door for me to land the lead role in this project, after I had to move my family back to Kansas city, MO from LA. My heart was broken as I kissed my acting career goodbye. But, I knew in my heart God was still able to do something, even from Kansas City,MO…and that’s when I got the call to play the lead role in “The Grace Card”.  God “parted the Red Sea” for me…He “Made a way out of no way”…and he wants to do that for every Christian.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Any upcoming projects?

MICHAEL JOINER

I am currently seeking agency representation for LA and NYC. My hope is that get noticed in this film enough to start working full time as an actor.


"The Grace Card" opens nationwide in theatres on Friday, February 25th, 2011. Read The Independent Critic's review of the film, then visit The Grace Card website for more information on the film! Oh, and don't forget to stop by Michael's own website to keep up-to-date on his acting and comedy!

© 2011 Interview by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic 



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