What is it about being a comedian that makes you happy?
To strip down my job to its elements: I get paid to make people happy. What could be better than that? I suppose it was the same thing when I worked at Baskin-Robbins in high school and college, scooping and serving ice cream, but laughter has no fat, no calories, no salt and you can do it for an hour and a half at a time.
How has your pursuit changed your life?
I don’t have to use an alarm clock unless I have an early morning flight. And I don’t take early morning flights. I’m my own boss so if somebody is a jerk, I don’t have to work with them. If I want to take a break, I can take a break. If I want to travel somewhere, I book comedy shows there and it becomes a tax deduction.
I’d like to resume international travel. A year and a half or so before Covid I had started doing international shows. I worked in Ireland, the U.K., the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand. But a lot of countries still have bad Covid numbers and a lot of people who attend English-language comedy shows overseas are tourists, so there are probably way fewer of them these days.
What do you wish you would have known when you were younger?
I wish I’d known that I didn’t have to do everything I was told to do because my life was kind of “this is what you do when you grow up.” The idea of working in the arts never occurred to anybody in my family. In my family there are doctors, lawyers and scientists. Being smart doesn’t mean you have to make your living being a doctor or a lawyer or scientist.
What would you tell other people who feel stuck and are looking to make a change?
Unstick yourself. If you can find something you want to do that pays, do that. I would also say, if you’re interested in stand up comedy — don’t! I don’t need the competition. But anything else, if you always wanted to do something, try it.
What lessons can people learn from your experience?
Here’s the lesson I want everybody to learn: Stop telling jokes to comedians. That’s not how it works. It’s our job to tell you jokes, not the other way around.