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Oxford grad appears on dating game



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October 05, 2011 - There's a word for a man who dates women for money. In Peter Banachowski's case, the word is comedian.

The 2006 Oxford High School graduate, who now lives and works in the Los Angeles area, appeared last week on the new syndicated dating show "Excused," which airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. on the independent Detroit television station WADL (Channel 38).

"A guy from CBS came up to me and asked me to audition for a show and I thought he meant a pilot," said Banachowski, who's trying to succeed as stand-up comedian. "It turned out to be a dating show."

At first Banachowski wasn't going to do the show, but the folks from CBS absolutely loved his audition tape and were quite persistent in their pursuit of the young comic.

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"After like the fifth call, I decided to do it for the money," he said. "It was like $150 to show up."

Looking back, Banachowski has mixed feelings about the whole experience.

"It was just so embarrassing," he said. "I didn't restrain myself at all. I was completely myself and I thought, 'God, I'm a mess.' I was supposed to be a romantic date and I ended up tackling a girl into a pool."

As if that wasn't enough of a mood-killer, Banachowski professed that he had a crush on 16th President Abraham Lincoln.

"I came off as a huge dork and nerd, but people I know who saw it thought it was funny," he said. "I guess as long as people laugh, that's all that really matters."

On the bright side, Banachowski is quite prominently featured on the show because one of its editors is a fan of his stand-up routine.

"I ended up having a lot of air time and a lot of camera time," he said.

Banachowski indicated he'll probably end up using clips from the show in an effort to obtain future work, but he's not holding his breath that it's going to lead to instant fame and fortune.

"It's like a small step, but it probably really won't help my career in the long run," he explained. "It will probably hurt me if I ever try to be a teacher or politician."

In the end, Banachowski didn't find true love, but he was the show's big winner.

"The girl chose me," he said. "We went on a few dates after, but she was a very high maintenance kind of crazy."

For anyone who's thinking of going on one of these dating shows, Banachowski offered this advice – "Make sure you don't want a good career."

"You've got to want something in entertainment," he explained. "This has ruined me. It really is bad if anyone saw it.

"A lot of the people (who go on these shows) are just out-of-work actors and actresses. I can't even put myself in a higher category because I'm basically an out-of-work comedian. It's all just people who want to be famous or people who just crave attention."

Someone told Banachowski he's now a "reality TV star," to which he responded, "Oh God, no! That's the opposite of what I want. I do not want that to be the case at all."

On almost any given night, Banachowski can be found performing his hilarious brand of stand-up somewhere in the L.A. area.

"Usually, it's at a horrible coffee shop with blenders and traffic and sirens or a bar with drunk, angry men," he said. "Once in a while, you get a gig at the Comedy Store or the Improv, if they need a host for a show."

When he's not doing stand-up, Banachowski does improv comedy with a group called "Value Menu."

"We offer cheap comedy," he said.

Banachowski said the process of becoming a successful stand-up comedian is "a lot harder and longer than I ever would have thought back in Detroit when I was doing it a few times a month."

"That's why usually the best comedians don't make it until their 30s or 40s. It's almost like a philosophical search for yourself and then once you find out who you are, you can really go out and be big."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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