McCarthy was born in Massachusetts and now lives in Seattle, Washington. He began writing poetry in the 1960s, but did not begin performing his works for audiences until the 1990s. It was then that he was introduced to slam poetry at the Cantab Lounge in Boston, Massachusetts, after intending to get his daughter interested in the artform. McCarthy has described his performance style as "stand-up poetry," or that he is a "stand-up poet," in that the work he does on stage is not subject to a specific regimen of poetic style, but is loose enough in form to be humorous and performed in a manner similar to that of stand-up comedy. He was awarded "Best Standup Poet" by the Boston Phoenix in the 1990s.
In short time, McCarthy has placed himself into a niche of spoken word that had long been unnoticed: the funny character. His storytelling and humor are well regarded within the performance poetry community.
McCarthy has relocated with his wife to the Seattle, Washington area and can be found performing at the Seattle Poetry Slam and other such events in the Pacific Northwest.
In 1996, McCarthy competed and took a spot on the Boston poetry slam team and went to the National Poetry Slam held that year in Portland, Oregon. While he was there, Paul Devlin, a filmmaker, was shooting a documentary on the phenomenon of slam poetry and utilized McCarthy extensively throughout the film.