Recently I had to deal with some "office politics" in the comedy world. Being in a creative world, you would hope to avoid the drama of an office but, after all, its the comedy business (stress on business). I am not sure if its a generation thing or just the fact that many of peers have never had a traditional office job but they often don't understand how it works. Unlike me, who came from multiple office jobs and traditional careers, they went from school to comedy. As a result, I sometimes see the inability to understand concepts that would typically be handled by the HR department or the due diligence of an investigation. Instead, people are cancelled or banished or a club is boycotted.
On my podcast, SINGLES ONLY, I often joke that I am the HR department, explaining to comedians why dating in the workplace is not a good idea and often ends poorly for all those involved. As a former lawyer, I am often contacted by peers who have questions about the legality of what they are facing whether its a contract or a concept more abstract, like due process. I am more than happy to assist or refer them to one of my former peers if I can't. And more often than not, especially when its bad news, the person is not happy with what I tell them. As a result, I am sometimes also banished for not "taking their side." The law is still the law and no matter how much Judge Judy or Law & Order you watched, one is still not a lawyer.
As a lawyer, I saw both sides of allegations made by people who did wrong and those who were wrong by the actions of people or businesses. I have an inherent sense of fairness instilled in me from my years as a lawyer. Whether I like it or not, I will always have a legal mind when I hear about the behavior of other comedians or clubs in the comedy world. I have seen people wrongly accused of actions and also people get away with wrongful conduct. I have never seen, however, how quickly people rush to judgment when an allegation or story is spread. I am still a believer in the US legal system and while it's not perfect, its the best thing we have and the principles of the legal system, especially due process and equal protection, should govern the behavior of all workplaces, including comedy.
When you are pursuing stand up comedy as a career, it takes up your time and energy. Nearly every night, you are doing shows and during the day you are either writing, doing projects like podcasts, sketches or working on social media. (Man does social media take up time, linked in included!)
Sometimes as comedians we forget to also have a life. Its the life that helps us create content and jokes. I have not had a weekend without comedy since the pandemic ended, which makes me miss a lot of opportunities ripe for social interactions like concerts, games, weddings. In addition, we also need to rejuvenate ourselves. Comedy burns you out. When people ask me, especially if its within hours of a show, "How you doing, Paul", I usually joke "we shall see." Its dark but basically indicates that how this set goes will govern how I am doing. It really does though. A great show can make you happy for hours while a bad show or a bad set can ruin a night or week.
I was lucky to live multiple lives before I did comedy (lawyer, musician, artist manager) which gives me a broad range of material to choose from but I still think comedians should have a life outside of comedy. Of course, I won't take this advice myself. Follow me on instagram if you dont already! #standup #careerchange #formerlawyer
So many shows I have done recently with comedians who grew an extensive fan base during the pandemic through social media. Their growth resulted in getting "butts in the seats" at shows and a loyal fan base that follows them each time a new social media sprouts. This is a path many comedians, including myself, have tried to mimic with mixed results. The algorithms that proved successful in the past have now changed.
Instead of just trying to match the social media path to success, the lesson can also be to try to find your own path. I am actively exploring ways to access potential fans of my comedy and am open to suggestions. I think, whatever one can do to get their comedy out there, even if its on LinkedIn, they should do.
In the end, it should be that "funny is funny" and talent should rise to the top. The difficulty is getting your people to see it. Please follow me on instagram and tiktok, if you are not all ready! #formerlawyer #standup #crowdwork #careerchange
I recently heard a comedian say this about his own career and it gave me pause. Especially since he was at least 5 years younger than me. LOL
Not that fame is my ultimate goal, but it is part of the way success can be objectively determined in comedy business. After all, if you are famous, you sell tickets, which means you will get booked at clubs and theaters. Selling tickets motivates bookers to have you at their venues, especially if you are also funny. Its harder to sell tickets now for the older stand up comedians if they do not already have a following, social media or otherwise.
It is definitely an uphill battle for older comedians, especially if you started later in life, like myself. Some get chances from shows like America's Got Talent. Everyone has their own journey or path to success, whatever that means. Most people my age in this filed have been doing comedy for 20+ years and, if they are still doing comedy, are headliners or have shifted to cruises and corporate gigs or other comedy adjacent careers if they didn't "make it." Most people doing comedy in my “class” (we go by when you started comedy so for me its 12 years ago), are in their early 30s.
I don't know if I am too old to be famous or too old to be where I am in comedy but I am hoping I will continue to grow my audience and my skills to help me do cool things while also making people laugh. If you like my stuff, share it and follow me on all the social medias, including that new threads thing. #careerchange #formerlawyer #atandupcomedian
Paul Farahvar is a comedian hailing from Chicago, Ill.
Paul Farahvar Comedy