Beginning of the Journey:
I became a stand-up comedian after failing for many years in the acting industry. And that’s not me trying to be self-deprecating! Sometimes after a show, audience members will be like, "How’s the acting career going?" and I’ll reply, "I don’t know, how often did you see Meryl Streep headline a Looney Bin Comedy Club in Oklahoma City?"
Earlier in my acting days, I wrote an autobiographical play in which I spent a great deal of time talking to the audience. I found that those moments seemed to hit harder than the actual scenes (and I enjoyed them more!). and, after a friend advised me to do so, I started working at a terrible club in New York called LOL Comedy Club. I spent nearly every night for a year doing the "check spot", which is the part of the show when the waiters drop their checks, and despite the awful circumstances, I had the time of my life.
Trusting the process:
I found my voice by writing jokes every day and testing them every night. The process is pleasantly simple and thrilling when a new bit finally works. I voraciously listened to stand-up comedy, usually one a day, and found myself gravitating towards Anthony Jeselnik and John Mulaney. Now, I have to avoid listening to them lest I subconsciously start imitating them too much.
In terms of "success," there was no real moment where everything started clicking. I just cranked away every day, writing jokes, posting on every social media platform, starting a podcast, etc. I’ve had all sorts of things go "viral," and that’s swell, but in this fractured media landscape, there is no one thing that gives you a career. To use a cliché but true saying, "it’s a marathon, not a sprint." I’m honestly amazed at getting this far, considering how dreadful I am at running.
My inspiration and dreams:
If you really love stand-up, simply seeing a comic do better than you on a show is enough to throw coal onto the fire. Aside from that, I’ve had so many people who have supported me, but what is worth citing is my girlfriend, Tovah Silbermann, who is a comedy manager and one of the most brilliant comedic minds I know. Whether it’s letting me run a joke by her or just hearing her goat-like laugh from the back of the room when I’m trying a new bit, she's guided me better than my own brain ever could.
Working as a sort of spokesman for General Electric was a dream come true, as they paid me a lot of money. I soon wasted it on an unsuccessful sketch comedy series called Matza Pizza, but boy did it feel good to have money for a brief second! Honestly, it did not impact my career as much as I hoped, but it did impact the kinds of dinners I munched on for quite some time.
Less Than 50%: The Journey of an Autobiographical Play:
Working on the play was tough because it was exactly what I wanted to create at that time in my life, but in going through the process, I realized theater was not my true passion. If only I’d known that before going to college for it, right? Wearing so many hats (actor, playwright, producer, promoter, etc.) taught me how these hats don’t quite fit right! Thank God I had various teams of people through each iteration that shepherded me away from complete disaster, and I got to experience the thrill of bringing a vision to life, the pain of it reaching a (in my mind) premature end point, and the challenges (and joys) of collaboration. This could have been either with an actor, dramaturg, director, producer, theater manager, or even a PR person (I got scammed by one!). While my career in stand-up comedy is vastly different, that experience prepared me for this life in a way college never could.
Stepping outside the comfort zone:
I honestly think starting a podcast (The Downside with Gianmarco Soresi) was a big leap for me because I’ve always been shy around strangers. I get so scared that I’ll hit record, ask the guest a couple of questions, and then have absolutely nothing left to say. But, based on reviews, people would prefer I say a little less! Learning how to navigate conversations has made me infinitely more confident in everyday life, in crowd work, and in myself.
I was also featured in magazines such as Esquire and The Atlantic, but I would say that I approach both artforms looking for some kind of comedic pop in order to justify the otherwise clunky nature of my writing. The bar for comedy is somewhat lower on the page than the stage, so in that sense it’s easier, but it’s also harder in the sense that I can’t use musicality to make my scattered thoughts clearer for the reader.
Navigating Obstacles and Leaving a Positive Impact: My Honest Advice:
My honest advice for aspiring actors would be to not do it! The industry is a nightmare, and I fear that advances in artificial intelligence are going to make it so all movies are just star-generated versions of Tom Hanks for the rest of our lives. But if someone insisted they get into the arts, I’d say embrace live performance! Not even AI can take away the thrill of seeing someone perform (and potentially fail) live.
For people looking to get into the stand-up industry, always be writing. Every joke you’ve ever written can be better, whether in word or rhythm. It’s not pleasant, but listen back to all your sets until you can’t anymore, explore other styles, and keep honing your craft until your undeniability carries you through any circumstance. But don’t get better than me.
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