The entertainment industry has witnessed a seismic shift in how artists build their careers and connect with their audiences. Musicians and comedians, two prominent figures in the entertainment landscape, have navigated through this digital transformation in distinctively different ways. While musicians often leverage streaming platforms as a primary medium to gain popularity and monetize their creations, comedians traditionally carve their path through live performances, honing their craft in front of a tangible audience before venturing into the virtual world.
Paul Farahvar of Chicago became a stand-up comedian pretty much by chance. We interviewed him in September to see how his career has grown and changed his life.
From Courtrooms to Comedy Clubs: A Serendipitous Journey into the World of Stand-Up
What motivated you to become a comedian? Well, I was an okay lawyer and a failed musician, so I figured, why not try something else I can be bad at? No, seriously, it was never on my radar until my friend got into it, I tried it once, and it changed my life. Stand-up comedy is an addiction. We all have a need for stage time.
Is there anyone who has led you down this path? Yes. Bob Saget told me I was funny once because he thought I was a stand-up comedian, and based on that, I had the confidence to do an open mic. The rest is history.
What did you find the most difficult about getting started? It was hard to schedule the time needed to get good. I was a full-time lawyer when I started and had a music management company, so I didn’t realize how important it was to get on stage 6–10 times a week.
Navigating the Comedy Circuit: The Challenges of Gig Selection and Breaking Through Digital Barriers
Which did you find more difficult, writing a sketch or finding gigs? Finding (and picking) the right gigs is actually very hard for me. I don’t have a manager, so I don’t know which shows I should be taking and making the right decisions on what to take. It’s also hard to get into clubs that I really want to work without a social media following of 100k followers. Also, I am a little older than most comedians, so I feel like there is sometimes a hesitation to book me.
Are you intimidated by competition in your field? I am not. I know there are a lot of funnier comedians than me, but I will outwork any and all of them. I always think hard work pays off. As Conan O’Brien said when he was forced out of The Tonight Show, “If you work hard and are kind, amazing things will happen.” I have that on my wall and a shortened version of that mantra on my arm as a tattoo.
Do you feel comfortable with where you’re at now with your career? NO. I am never satiated. I want to be bigger, doing more creative projects, and headlining more clubs. I am confident that it will come but I am impatient and feel like I have limited time to “make it” (whatever that means)
Finding Laughter Amidst the Echoes of Past Careers: Paul Farahvar’s Tale of Triumph, Tenacity, and Unwavering Resolve
When did you realize you hit your stride? About 5 years ago, I was touring with big-name comedians who asked me to come back on the road with them. That made me feel like I was doing something right. I also had a weekly show at the World Famous Laugh Factory which was selling out. It was a cool interactive concept that I created about dating. Now there are 3 shows similar to what I did.
In what ways can you improve? There is always room for improvement. I want to become a better writer. I want to become a better actor (in the sense of acting out my bits)
Everyone feels like giving up at some point to find a “regular job”. What kept you going when you hit that wall and what did the wall look like? So I had a regular job. I had a real career. I was a partner at a law firm so I left that world to do this. I am not going to hit a wall to go back to that world until I fail miserably.
An Unexpected Mentorship: How a Pivotal Moment at the Laugh Factory Propel Paul Towards Success and Confidence on Stage
What is one story you MUST tell people that happened to you during your journey? I think when I was passed at the Laugh Factory as a paid regular by the owner Jamie Masada. That was a big moment for me because I told him I wanted to be a host and he made me the host of the open mic every week. Which gave me the experience and confidence I needed to continue. He became my mentor and led the way for pretty much all my success later.
What is one mistake you’ve made during your career that became the best learning experience? So many mistakes. LOL. I think sometimes I was too driven and aggressive with my pursuits of stage time. I would turn off a lot of venues because of it. I still do. To me, I rather work with people who are hungry like me instead of being ambivalent.
What is your favorite way to engage with your audience? I like the actual shows as opposed to just social media and meeting them in person after the shows. I don’t mind social media but sometimes it’s hard to understand people’s tone in DMs. Real life is always best. Actually eye contact! Imagine that!
Where do you go from here? I hope to become a headliner on weekends and have a stable talk show or podcast during the week. That’s the goal. I also have developed some non-scripted shows that I hope will get picked up in 2024.