The Show Must Go On
Sometimes, we as performers, have to perform through grief and personal strife. Many of my close friends in comedy have lost loved ones recently and I watch them go back on stage, putting on a happy face for the crowds. I know that soon I will have to do the same as I recently had to deal with the stressors of an ailing family member. Often times, I use stand up comedy as therapy, discussing the pains on stage but other times, its just too hard or fresh to address and I do everything in my power to avoid addressing the elephant in my room that the crowd knows nothing about. I remember as a kid watching baseball stars struggle for weeks on end with no explanation, only to learn late that they were striking out because of a painful divorce or the death of a parent. The show must go on. #stage #explore #standup #careerchange #formerlawyer
I was finally asked to headline a club that was on my bucket list of venues to perform at when I started comedy. A few years back, I would reach out every two months in hopes of just getting my foot in the door. As with many clubs, the venue likely received 1000 emails a week form comedians all over the country trying to get stage time. Mine was lost in the shuffle.
When the pandemic hit, I stayed in Florida to work and to be with my parents who live there now. I was able to get face time with the new owner and he gave me a guest spot to see me live, instead of through clips. From there, I was given a feature set and then another. Now, two years later I am headlining Sidesplitters in Tampa in May! I will be there as well with Ryan Dempster for a Innings Fest show.
Last week I also worked a new club in Batavia called The Comedy Vault, not far from the old St. Charles Zanies I used to work often. I was a feature for the hilarious Joe Zimmerman and had five of my best sets of the year. I made a bunch of new fans, re-connected with a few old ones, and sold 25 "Better Call Paul" shirts with all the proceeds going to Parkinsons Foundation. Best of all, the booker reached out to me for my avails to possibly headline there as well this summer. If you work hard and are kind, amazing things do happen!
#careerchange #laughs #standupcomedy #journey
READING THE ROOM
People often ask me if I change my material depending on where I am performing. I know some comedians do this while others refuse to change anything. My answer is I change it a little, depending on the room, but I never change my voice.
If I am working a "clean" show or a corporate gig, I of course will change my material to work with the guidelines given to me when hired. If i am asked not to use the "F" work, I can easily abide. The same hold true for working with headliners who ask me to avoid crowd work or topics too close to theirs.
Most importantly for me, however, is reading the room to see what is working, especially noting what is working with the other comedians before me. Sometimes what I preemptively believe will or won't work in a crowd before hitting the stage is dead wrong! For example, I recently thought the older conservative crowd I was working with would be prudes when it came to certain jokes I have, when in reality, they loved them more than my "safer" stuff I assumed they would prefer. The great part of stand up comedy is that you gave immediate feedback and can use that to craft the remainder of your set. I am fortunate to have well over an hour of material to work with to adjust or tweak, without losing my voice.
#comedy #careerchange #formerlawyer #standupcomedy #comedian
Recently I headlined an amazing club that had been one of the first comedy clubs to headline me years ago. Since that time, I had not been back, despite having a great weekend back then and building a small but mighty fan base in the area. When I performed there last, I had my own little "flu game" (Michael Jordan reference) since I performed with the worst food poisoning I had ever experienced, fearful the whole time that I would have to run off stage to get sick. I warned my opener to be ready to return to the stage in case I had to run.... or got the runs. Adrenaline kicked in and I had an amazing set. More importantly, I didn't get sick, at least not while on stage!
It was hard not to take it personally, not being invited back for so long to that club. I witnessed many of my peers come back, including my opener from that night and some other friends who had opened for me in the past. To be fair, the club had gone through ownership changes, location changes and of course, COVID. I waited patiently to return and sent my avails as often as possible. In this business, you can't take perceived snubs personally. Onward.
When I was finally given a chance to return, I had some amazing shows, made some new fans and was a small part of the club's first back to back sold out shows at their new location. Also, I did not get food poisoning. I am so grateful to the new owners for having me back and hope to return soon! I promise not to eat anything risky either!
#careerchange #blessed #standupcomedy #laughs #formerlawyer
Paul Farahvar is a comedian hailing from Chicago, Ill.
Paul Farahvar Comedy