Home sweet home. Chicago! Such an amazing couple weeks being back in Chicago and doing some clubs I used to consider home like Zanies Comedy Club and new venues like Lincoln Lodge. While crowds are still at limited capacity, nearly all the crowds have been electric. And the number of shows I do weekly has finally equaled that of pre-COVID times. Moreover, instead of always doing "sure fire" material on weekend shows, I am taking more chances on stage with new jokes. Pre-COVID, I would save the newer "unproven" material for weekday shows or open mics, but I have found the confidence to try them in the middle of "proven" material sets. The excitement of telling new jokes usually translates to laughter. (Not always though, and that's ok!) The downside of so many shows again is the lack of time to write new material. I try to write at least 30 minutes a day and its been hard to stay to that schedule. Nonetheless, its a good problem to have when you are on stage, which is also where I write most of my material. #shows #standupcomedian #careerchange
I am a big believer in positive energy. I decided years ago to try to remove negative energy and focus on positive vibes, whenever possible, even during the pandemic. When the pandemic first hit, I knew a lot of my comedian friends and workers at comedy clubs would be hit hard. I had just ordered a new batch of "Better Call Paul" shirts to sell at my shows (which were now postponed) so I donated all the money from my "Better Call Paul" shirts to them for the first few months. I try to donate to causes important to me on a regular basis as well. Now that my shows are coming back, I have decided to donate half of all the proceeds from my shirts each month to a worthy cause: this month is #autismawareness so for April, 50% of all proceeds from the sales of the old design and the new one (below) go to austism causes. The shirts are high quality super soft shirts so if you want one, order from my website at paulfcomedy.com.
Last week marked 10 years of stand up comedy for me. When I was younger, stand up comedy was not on my radar as a hobby, let alone a career. Six years ago, my best friend Colby Payne came to see me at Laugh Factory Las Vegas and as we walked down the Vegas Strip, my name and video appeared on a billboard. It was surreal.
This past year has been filled with surprises, but one thing this COVID break (I call it a break like its a holiday!) has taught me was that planning ahead and playing it safe is not the road for me. I always hated answering the “where do you see yourself in 5 years” question. Five years ago, I was just thinking about quitting law to focus on comedy. Ten years ago, I was a partner at a law firm I co-founded.
And while a lot of my plans were decimated by COVID, I am starting to pick up where I left off. This month, I have already headlined more shows than I did in any single month prior, and its only 12 days in. There have been pitfalls as well, with certain opportunities gone but new projects are in the works.
When David Bowie died, I wanted to get a tattoo of his quote which is “I don’t know where I am going from here, but I know it won’t be boring.” Let's hope so.
#standupcomedy #careerchange Photo by Ashley NiCole' Fotographie
Is it the audience or me?
I recently headlined two nights of shows, back to back, having two completely different responses. The first night (Friday) went horribly. Nothing seemed to work; the new stuff, the "hits" and even crowd work resulted in minimal responses. It felt like work and I was left dazed and confused. The next night was Saturday. Same venue, same jokes and everything worked; the new stuff, the "hits" and the crowd work, even resulting in unexpected applause breaks. Was it the audience? Maybe. I never blame the crowd or turn on crowds when they don't give me love, and I did not at the Friday show here. But with this evidence and instant "data", it was clear that it was not JUST me. Watching the shows (yes I record all my shows), I did, see my energy level was low on the Friday show but I also noticed the lighting on the stage was out on the Friday show and sound levels were low. Yes, sometimes it just is ALSO the crowd or aspects out of my control. Even with the less than ideal response on the Friday show, I was so thankful for the weekend of shows and in hindsight loved both shows. Why? When I struggle on stage, I write more material while on stage that I can use later, and I got two new "tags"
#comedyisback #standup #careerchange
What a great feeling to see my scheduling filling back up with show dates! Lots of new clubs giving me an opportunity to perform on their stages, based on word of mouth, persistence and what I hope is my talent. I look forward to the show and will work hard to succeed like I did recently at JP's Comedy Club, Off The Hook Comedy Club, Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle, House of Comedy and Comedy Zone.
On the flip side, some venues have gone radio silent on me. Like all businesses, there are politics involved in getting shows and some ‘gatekeepers' have their own ideas of who they want to work with, despite the obvious talents of others. They have that right, of course but its frustrating when fans ask, “Why are you not performing at (popular venue) anymore?“ and you don’t have an answer. If you want to see a comedian at your favorite club, just ask the club, not the comedian when they will be back. When you buy tickets to comedy shows, mention your favorite comedians. Also follow them on social media!
When faced with adversity, comedians can either give up or produce their own opportunities. I have chosen the latter and will be on more new stages in the coming months. See you all soon, I hope!
#2020vision #comedyshow #standup
Paul Farahvar is a comedian hailing from Chicago, Ill.
Paul Farahvar Comedy