LARGO, Fla. - "Get out a sheet of paper. Clear your desks," commands the teacher from the front of the class.
Mike Rivera knows how to keep order in his class full of 7th graders. He also knows how to make them do something else besides school work. He knows how to make them laugh.
"Jacoby, you got a hundred," says Rivera in a throaty voice while operating a bunny hand puppet.
"When you make them laugh, that's genuine, man. You got it," Rivera smiled.
Rivera knows his civics class at Osceola Middle School can be a tougher group than the audiences he faces at his other job as a professional standup comedian.
"He's smart. he's quick on his feet and he's always been really good at that; and people love it," said Bob Shoemaker, owner of Coconuts Comedy Club on St. Pete Beach.
Rivera has been performing there for years.
Shoemaker isn't surprised that Rivera is one of five finalists for 'America's Most Hilarious Teacher' on ABC's The View.
"On stage, he has great stage presence," Shoemaker said.
In yet another voice impersonation, Rivera hands out tests to the students while saying, "Remember the rules people, we don't want anyone to cheat. We wouldn't like that would we?"
Even the simple reminder of basic guidelines causes the boys and girls to grin. Removing tension can be a powerful motivator.
"He creates this impression. He just like pops it right into the lesson, so it makes it fun," said 7th grader Caleb Ford.
Rivera will appear on The View this Friday at 11:00am right here on ABC Action News. He says has has the best of both worlds, regardless of his audience.
"That's my style. Is it for everyone? Absolutely not. But does it fit me? Yeah. Because I love my job, and that's why I love my job because I get to joke with my kids. I get that feedback. When they're laughing, I'm going, 'how cool'," explained Rivera.
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