I am very fortunate to have had a career before stand up where I earned a very steady income and I also am fortunate to have the ability to do well paying shows for corporations, mostly because of my prior life and ability to relate to the corporate world. As a result, I donate all the profits from my "Better Call Paul" shirts at my shows to charity, most often Parkinson's Foundation. If I didn't have that luxury, however, I think I missed my calling as a t-shirt salesman. Most comedians depend on the money from their merch to as a main source of income.
I have sold thousands of "Better Call Paul" shirts since I started selling shirts, averaging over 100 shirts a month! I was hesitant to sell shirts at shows, especially showcase shows where I only did 10 or 15 minutes or when I was hosting a show. But people want these super soft shirts (They really are soft), either because they know someone named Paul or they love the connection to the TV show (which is my favorite).
Often times, however, its because of the cause. I love hearing from people at shows who have had experiences with Parkinson's as it is cause near and dear to me. Sometimes I get tips on how to deal with it or just bonding with people who are struggling with a family member with Parkinson's. A few times, I have met people who have Parkinson's and it warms my heart to see them excited that someone is bringing attention to their cause. I look forward to the fundraiser we will have at Zanies Comedy Club in Rosemont on December 11th. Hope to see you there and keep buying merch!
#formerlawyer #parkinsons #non-profit #charity #merch #standupcomedy #comedian
As a comedian who started later in life, I am still considered an “older” comedian. As a result, it is sometimes hard to navigate the nuances of comedy politics. On one hand, I am not as experienced as comedians my age who started in their 20s (while I was lawyering and being the Persian John Mayer). On the other hand, I am much older than comedians who started when I started 10 years ago.
As a result, I sometimes get the worst of both worlds. I don’t headline as often as folks my age because I clearly don’t have the experience and the tv credits, having started 10+ years late. On the other hand, there is a subtle ageism with bookers who are much younger than me and favor comedians who may not be as experienced and seasoned as me but often hang with them after the shows and at post show parties. Unfortunately, however, people who attend these clubs are closer to my age and have life experiences similar to mine.
Recently I was watching a showcase show where the crowd was mostly middle aged and older and every comedian on the show was under 30. On this night, the older crowd did not want to hear a 24 year olds discuss their Tinder dates or their hot takes on the Supreme Court’s rulings. Maybe the crowd was just bad but I thought I could do better. I asked the manager if I can do a quick set, since I was not on the show and was just stopping by, just to maybe reset the room. I was denied.
I could be wrong and maybe I would have failed to capture the audiences attention and garner laughs but I am pretty certain I would have helped the show. Instead I watched comedian after comedian struggle. The only way to avoid what I perceived as disrespect is to be undeniable. Be undeniably talented and never fail to successfully crush a spot. Onward.
#formerlawyer #standupcomedy #comedian #mondaymotivation #bettercallpaul
More and more, I am meeting people after my shows who just experienced their first live comedy show. Obviously, if they approach me, its likely been a good experience. We all know if it was a bad experience, they will go to Yelp. More often than not, they say they regret not doing this sooner and more often. Everyone needs to laugh, especially now. The day after the Highland Park tragedy, I did a show just 15 miles away to a packed audience of people, wanting and needed joy. Laughter is medicine and has scientifically and physiologically been proven to be.
It's always so exhilarating to discuss comedy with people who respect the craft, especially after they just went to their first live show. With the growth of comedy online, my last few "first show" encounters were from people who saw stand up online and wanted to go see a live show. I am sure now even they agree that TikTok and Instagram reels can only provide a portion of the experience.
Just last week, someone told me I was their first comedy show. Thankfully it was a good show so I felt like I fulfilled my duty to provide laughter. And I do feel like I have a responsibility at comedy shows since more often than not, the people in the audience don’t know who I am and took a chance to see me, based on my (limited) biography or clips they saw online. These people have spent money on babysitters, Lyfts and then sometimes a two drink minimum. The least I can do is be funny. #formerlawyer #bettercallpaul #standup #careerchange #laughteristhebestmedicine
Sometimes ego gets in the way or making good decisions. Or pride prevents us from taking opportunities "below our pay grade." After more than 10 years of stand up comedy and over 3,000 shows, I believe I have earned the right to be a headlining comedian. And often I am (See you this weekend Ft Myers!). Other times, I am asked to open or feature (middle spot) when I believe I should be headlining.
Recently, I was asked to open a show and I almost declined because my ego was bruised, especially after seeing peers and newer comedians headlining the same venue. But only after talking to a comedian friend did a realize that I would not only be turning down perfectly good stage time, but I was also not necessarily helping my cause. After all, the only way to prove ones worth is by showing it.; doing the show opening it and crushing.
There is a school of thought that says not to take shows beneath you, as you are lowering your worth. And that may be true, but I will most often opt for stage time not only to prove my worth but also to perfect my craft.
#standupcomedy #formerlawyer #decisions #thursdaythoughts #hustle #grind
Paul Farahvar is a comedian hailing from Chicago, Ill.
Paul Farahvar Comedy