NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — A firefighter at Naval Support Activity Panama City may put out actual fires but looks to set burn the house down with his comedy.
Derik Mayer has been a firefighter with the Federal Firefighter Service for 20 years. Throughout that time, he’s also been building his comedy career.
Mayer says he got his first job in front of a camera in the movie ‘Love n’ Dancing.’
“When I walked in, my friend said ‘oh you have to meet this person?’ Next thing you know, Betty White’s standing there, Billy Zane, Kevin Costner, Robert Iscove, the director and then they hand me my lines and they’re like ‘oh yeah. this is your part.’ and I’m like what?” Mayer said.
While working as a firefighter, Mayer says he needed to find a way to decompress and comedy allowed him to do that. Even though he’s saving lives daily, Mayer believes he can make a big difference on stage.
“I’ve had people come up and give me testimonials like this has completely changed my way I’m thinking right now and I’m thankful because one person said they were thinking of doing harm to themselves. Now I changed their mind on a lot of areas because you’re activating that brain. It’s not a cure to depression but it definitely alleviates it,” Mayer said.
So far, Mayer says he’s been able to work with people like Jeff Dunham, Sonya King, Bubba Bradley, Jason Heddon, Henry Cho, Kal Penn, Dr. Brian King and more.
“We do a lot of outreach stuff too. We try to help out people as much as we can. We’ve offered our services to different veteran groups. We’ve done benefit shows here. We did comedy for a cause. Dr. Brian came down and assisted us with the hurricane efforts,” Mayer said.
Mayer has traveled all over the country, stationed in Maine before coming to Panama City. He says he wanted to get into warmer weather but also, Panama City was a place his nephew wanted to be.
His nephew served in the Air Force and was stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base. Unfortunately, Mayer lost his loved one to suicide but he says his spirit is what keeps this comedian moving forward.
“He was that goofy laugh that used to come to all my shows and always set the pace when I started out and I miss him. I’m always chasing that sound and that laugh and that was the whole thing why I wanted to keep it going and help more prevent more of that. We’re doing a suicide prevention program,” Mayer said.
As Mayer is getting close to retiring from firefighting, he is looking to add a new type of entertainment to the area and hopes to open a comedy club on the beach.
So far, Mayer says they’ve sent a request to Gabriel Iglesias a.k.a Fluffy and Jeff Dunham coming to the area is also in the works.