What a Time!
What an amazing weekend at House of Comedy! I headlined a show filled with new faces (and repeat fans) and then featured for one of my favorite's fahim anwar. I was able to work out a chunk of new material during my extended sets, weave other material through diverse crowds and then watch a master navigate the same crowds while making similar decisions on material tone as I made. Moreover, I was able to sell more "Better Call Paul" shirts than ever, reaching my goal of raising $1,000 for Parkinson's Foundation before the end of July. I will continue donate to the Parkinson's Foundation in August as well, so if you would like a shirt, come to a show or go to my website- paulfcomedy dot com. Hope to see you at Zanies Comedy Club (Old Town) this weekend, in Champaign next week or at Mccurdys Comedy Club (Sarasota) in a couple weeks! #careerchange #chicagolawyer #comedyisback #parkinsonsawareness
There are none in comedy. When you start, they say "respect the process;" I agree. Sometimes you obtain amazing opportunities that propel you and provide you a platform. What you do with those opportunities allow you to grow. If you're wise, you learn from them and will yourself to be better, whether its writing or performing. I believe that if you want to do stand up comedy, you need to get on stage and develop your act and voice. You need to write. Eight years ago today, I had my first weekend hosting for a national act. I remember thinking after I'd work harder than other comedians and achieve greater success quicker, due to my work ethic and business acumen from years in the music business. I did obtain great some opportunities quicker but because I wasn't ready, I didn't develop and for years, I plateaued. After leaving the law, I am able to write and take more chances on stage, which has grown my material and hopefully will lead to more headlining shows, like tonight at House of Comedy! I subscribe to the Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour theory (10,000 hours to master a skill). Everyone differs, but I do believe that time and process allows one to find their voice. Even 10 years in, I am still finding mine. #standupcomedy #chicagolawyer #careerchange
In comedy, being a good host is a blessing and a curse. If you're good, you're anointed "all time" host for shows. Talented hosts thanklessly work their quick thinking skills and crowd work, skills comedians often don't have or desire, even though, these skills are often needed as a club headliner. Clubs like Zanies Comedy Club used to require a monthly hosting residency before comedians were considered for headliner spots.
When I first started, all I wanted was to host to prepare for my dream of hosting my own show. I never thought I would write enough material to be a headliner and I preferred crowd work. Still, I knew to end my hosting set with a joke before I brought up the first comic. Of course, I developed over an hour of material, mostly from hosted shows.
I was fortunate to have the greatest mentor in legend Tom Dreesen who taught me the host’s job is to keep the show moving forward. If a comedian crushes, bring the crowd back to earth for the next comedian. On the flip side, if a comedian bombs, bring the energy back up for the next comedian. Otherwise, keep the show moving! And if I had $1 for every audience member who said afterwards, “You should try comedy, you were good up there!” I would have like $69! #comedyshow #laughs #hosting
New Stuff or the Hits?
Its always hard to decide when to try the new material or when to do the sure fire jokes that kill. Typically when I have a weekday show, a shorter set or an unpaid "guest" spot, I will use that opportunity to try new material. After COVID, I promised myself I would take more chances on stage with unproven material as well, even on weekends. Unless of course, the club's booker is at the show. Then, I have to do the hits. Especially if its a club I don't get a lot of work from. Or if everyone else on the show is crushing and you want to keep the wave of laughs going. Or comedians who book shows you want to get on are in the audience. Excuses, excuses, I know. Back to the drawing board. #comedy #careerchange #standupcomedian
Back to Business
Shows are now at full capacity at most venues. Getting the reps in during the pandemic both at outdoor shows and "COVID capacity" shows makes you appreciate a full room with full laughs. It is also rewarding to see the jokes I worked on so hard getting even bigger laughs in full rooms. The hard work is also paying off with new venues headlining me in 2021 and “comedy adjacent” opportunities arising again with acting and writing. Its overwhelming at times, trying to be creative while also worrying about booking shows and getting my material in front of national, local and social medias. I hope to land management this year to assist and direct me, but having a background in music management definitely helps me make somewhat better decisions. Also having "butts in the seats" at my shows gives me legitimacy. Hope to see you when I headline at Hey Nonny - Arlington Heights Friday July 9th and House of Comedy in Minneapolis July 21. Please come and bring 50 people!
Paul Farahvar is a comedian hailing from Chicago, Ill.
Paul Farahvar Comedy