A lot of comedians poke fun at the crowd work comedian. Right now, that is all the rage and often times, patrons of shows believe that is what a comedy show is, often leading to hecklers interrupting the show. Some comedians are really good at it.
When I started, I loved doing crowd work. I even had a show at weekly Laugh Factory which was entirely interactive. As a result, I am pretty good at it. But I rarely do it now because I have material that I have written and I want to perform it and develop it. Also, when I was opening for bigger acts , I stopped doing crowd work You are not supposed to do crowd work because it takes away from the headliner's ability to go into the crowd later, or, if he is not a crowd work comedians, creates an expectation of more crowd work to come. When I headline I don't like if my opener does crowd work. Then I have to pay attention to make sure I don't repeat the same questions and talk to the same persons.
While I was preparing for my new special, I also avoided doing any crowd work because I wanted to work on my new hour. Some of my fans actually started noticing that I stopped doing it. I know crowds love it. Some comedians poke fun at the "crowd work" comedians blowing up right now but I think its silly to do that. If crowds are coming to see comedians because of the clips they posted online of their crowd work, that means the market has spoken. And they are making people laugh. The patrons are paying for the show, not the other comedians in the back.
That being said, it is funny to see some comedians only doing spots at comedy clubs and hiring cameramen just to record their anticipated crowd work that can use online. It seems forced to me, but the crowds love it so, more power to them. #standup #laughs #crowdwork #formerlawyer #careerchange
Stand Up Comedy is a one man show. You are alone on stage and, as a road comic, mostly off too. It works great for people who, like me, don't like to work for others or may have authority issues. And also those of us who like to work and be alone. But of course, sometimes, you have to work with others.
Obviously when you are on a show, you are working with the host, feature or headliner, depending on your role. That interaction can be minimal if you want it to be or if the headliner wants it to be. I have worked with headliners who won't share the green room with the openers or talk to us. I have also been a headliner trying to minimize my interactions with a host for a variety of reasons.
When you produce or write a show, whether live, network or for media, you have to work with others again. For me, I was in an office setting for a majority of my life and before that, I was in social clubs and fraternities. I am used to taking criticism and giving it. I also did improv at Second City where you learn the art of "yes, and" to others. I feel like I work well with others. I am often reminded, however that my intents are not always perceived amicably.
In comedy, I am constantly reminded that most of my peers did not have this same background and, being older, I also need to reminded of the generation gap and how certain comments like "I don't think that will work" can be construed as belittling someone. I pride myself of being kind and working hard and I expert the same of others, maybe too much. It sometimes comes off as aggressive I think or overtly ambitious. For me, comedy is a career path, not a fun little ride. That being said there are other egos involved, large and small. You have to play nice.
Recently I did a show where the crowd simply was not giving any of the comedians any laughs. I was closing out the show and immediately went up and shunned the crowd for not laughing at some very funny comedians before me, in a fun way. I went up and said basically how I didn't care if they didn't laugh because I will always remember the time when we as comedians were NOT allowed to do comedy.
I remember the moment when we were open in Chicago for a brief moment, only to be shut down again. My show I worked so hard on bringing back (Everyone's a Lawyer) was also cancelled and I gave this interview from my hotel in Arizona, where I decided to stay instead of flying back to Chicago.
At the show, I was able to get the crowd on my side and to loosen up and had a blast. I tricked them into laughing with me. What a great job I have. #standup #laughs #formerlawyer
Burn out is real. For the last few years, I have been doing about 35-40 shows a month. I never wished to have a day off, to be honest but now I look forward to it. I don't think the burn out is from the actual performances, but more with the politics of being a working comedian with no representation; sending avails, promoting shows, social media. It all takes time away from the joys of comedy which is performing and writing. If I don't send out my avails to the clubs, producers and bookers, I don't get shows. It's that simple.
I am taking a little break from the "grind" of doing 6-10 shows a week in 2024 and focusing on other ways to use my talents. I have a new podcast coming up and am working on some non-scripted shows to pitch. I also have been working with my non-profit to raise money for causes, specifically Parkinson's Foundation, which I am doing an event for in December and hope you can make. I will always welcome shows and events where I can emcee or perform.
#standup #comedy #formerlawyer
Paul Farahvar is a comedian hailing from Chicago, Ill.
Paul Farahvar Comedy