Ep. 299 – Paul Reiser: Find What You’re Drawn To, Even if It’s Hard

Paul Reiser

Paul isn’t much older than I am.

But I feel like I’ve been watching him on TV and in movies since I was born.

We laughed about that.

Paul’s been doing stand up since he was 17 years old. Paul remembers watching the comics when he was little. It spoke to him on a different level than the Beatles or any of the other rock stars of the time.

Paul when to college, but then he after he graduated he took the nonlinear life path.

The path I feel like everyone should try out at least once in their lives.

He moved to the city and he started hanging out in clubs. He was making four dollars an hour.

But his parents were scratching their heads, why would you want to be a comedian?

They wanted him to be just about anything else. It was just too risky. And it was hard.

There were no paychecks, no benchmarks. It was an unimaginable world to his parents.

There’s no reason anyone should ever make it as a comedian.

But he did it anyway.

And I wanted to know what the initial appeal of stand up was for Paul.

“For a comedian, I don’t think you can do anything else. You’re drawn to it. And when you’re starting out as a comic you’re protected by an ignorance of youth. If you knew how bad you were, you wouldn’t dare go up,” Paul said.

Paul made his first appearance on the Johnny Carson Show in 1982. The comedian’s stamp of approval. Even if they’ve never heard of you, they’ve heard of Johnny Carson. This was his in.  

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The stamp of approval he’d been waiting for.

His career was finally starting to come together.

It helped him get into acting. You may remember him in “Mad About You” or “My Two Dads” or “Diner”.

But he always meant to get back to stand up. It just never happened because he was too busy and distracted with so many other obligations. But he told me this: it’s not going to happen unless you do it.

So he started little by little each day. He started to find who out who he was again. And he found his voice. He started to grow back into a comedian each day.

“What I love about stand up is it’s a moving target. It’s like a horizon. You keep moving towards it and then it keeps moving. There’s always so much more I have to learn. You never feel like you’ve arrived in the best sense,” Paul said.

He loves what he does and he keeps improving each day.

He showed me how to keep getting better. And to never stop doing what you love.

When in doubt, just do it. Don’t question what you’re drawn to.

Move towards the target.

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