I Used to Be Somebody: (Un)Retirement Lessons Learned

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King of Comedy?

Carl Landau | March 15, 2022
You need to "practice what you preach". We're always encouraging listeners on the I Used to be Somebody show to try doing something NEW and more FUN. So, I felt like I had to try something new.....
 
WARNING: For anyone trying something entirely new ( a second act), at the beginning you're going to be frustrated, scared, overwhelmed and at some point you're going to want to give up. These are natural feelings. It's supposed to be a challenge! So have patience and give yourself a break when trying something new. 
 
I signed up for a six week comedy stand-up workshop and our final was performing before a live audience. I learned a ton by taking on this project and it really kicked me out of my comfort zone.
 
  • Stand-up is HARD, and not just because you are talking in front of an audience with bright spotlights focused on you. You have to learn to take command of the room while at the same time you are trying to get a very specific response from the audience -- laughter! (And not just once but for most of the time you are up on stage.)
  • You have to be a good writer, develop a script, memorize it and then successfully perform that set without note cards, which are four entirely different skills. Oh yeah---and be really funny!
  • Find a great mentor, it makes a difference. I was so lucky because I had the incredible comedian, Jack Gallagher, who has had a big time career in comedy and acting.
 
Jack told our class, "Regardless if you continue with your stand-up career or not, the experience translates into big-time confidence in anything else you do in the future. If you can do stand-up, you are bullet proof for anything." I think this is totally true.

 

 

Tags:    the carl diary   stand up comedy   comedy   comfort zone   comedy gold   funny   jack gallagher  

Getting WAY OUT of your Comfort Zone

Carl Landau | February 08, 2022
I talk about getting out of your comfort zone a lot on my I Used to be Somebody show. It's is a big theme of the show and one of the reasons I started the podcast. I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could have a successful podcast after selling my company and also to help others figure out how to create their own successful second acts in life.
 
So I just took a big leap! I recently confessed to comedian Greg Schwem, a guest on the show, that I had just signed up for a stand-up comedy workshop. We meet for 6 weeks and for our "final" my classmates and I each get a 5 minute set in front of a LIVE audience. 
 
I saw this class advertised on a Facebook post. And there was no one at that moment who I could talk to, in hopes of "talking me out of it." So I immediately signed up before I chickened out. I was literally shaking as I filled in my credit card info to pay online for the workshop.
 
I just had my first session. Our teacher is the very talented Jack Gallagher who I actually had interviewed last spring for my show. He's been a comedian / writer / actor for 40+ years. Another reason I signed up for the workshop was to meet and get to know the other weirdos like me that want to try this stand-up thing. I wasn't disappointed. They come from all walks of life. Everyone there had a different reason for attending. We are an interesting bunch for sure but it all seemed to be good- hearted and supportive. Which is what you need in a nerve-wracked environment of stand-up comedy.
 
And as Jack pointed out.........a five minute set is waaaay longer than you think. It's also a very long time if you're bombing.
 
Jack had each one of us go up on the stage right away. He wants us to feel comfortable on that stage. Some of my classmates have already done some stand-up. Some have an acting background. Oh, and then there is me.
 
The first time on the stage was easy. Jack did a Q & A session with us -- our life story, why we were there and who are favorite comedians were. I did fine. The second part on stage was a complete disaster for me. Jack performed a 3 minute comedy bit and each of us took turns to repeat that set. Just about everyone was able to jump up there and do their version of the bit. I was in total panic mode while watching everyone else. 
Ironically, the set I'm working on for my own stand-up set is that I'm dyslexic and how I've had to deal with it my whole life. Sometimes my brain gets jumbled up and I don't have the skills to do exactly the task I want it to do. So my 28-second act was a disaster. My classmates politely clapped and I sat down mortified. 
I'll do another diary entry before my final stage performance. I'm actually eager to go back next week. I was successful by showing up and making the effort. I certainly got out of my comfort zone. And you know what? Nothing bad has happened to me yet.
 
Tags:    the carl diary   stand up comedy   comedy   comfort zone   try new things   unretirement   Jack Gallagher  

Greg Schwem Interview: Stand-Up Comedian Finds His Third Act

Diana Landau | January 11, 2022

Carl interviews stand-up comedian Greg Schwem this week. Greg not only does stand-up comedy but he has performed on Jay Leno, with Celine Dion, and corporate gigs like Microsoft and United Airlines. Greg talks with us about his third act in the comedy world – as the creator/producer/director/writer/performer of a funny new YouTube show, “A Comedian Crashes Your Pad.” (Fun fact: Greg is also a kick-ass pickleball player!)

 

Greg grew up in middle-class Arlington Heights, a burb in Chicagoland. He says he gets his funny bone from his father, who was an electronic salesman. “You have to be funny to be successful in sales,” he says. Gutsy move: Greg was an introverted teen and not a big “joiner” until he performed stand-up for the first time at 16 at his high school. “Making people laugh has a lot of advantages socially!”

 

After graduating from Northwestern, he worked as a journalist, working for different media. At 24, he moved to Florida and started going to comedy clubs as something to do in the evenings. He soon discovered he enjoyed being a stand-up comedian more than he liked being a journalist. His parents were wary at first, but he says when he brought them to Las Vegas years later and they saw his name on the marquee, they realized he could make a living doing what he loved.
After two decades of performing as a stand-up and doing corporate gigs, he taught himself some new things. “COVID taught me some video skills,” Greg says. He began creating a new show about a comedian who visits people in their homes through one of the home-sharing sites, learning about their quirky lives. “When people are in their own element, you’d be surprised how much they open up.” Greg shares, “When I started it (the show) it was just me with an iPhone and a GoPro.” He now has a crew of one to help with the camera work.

 

Greg's career is still going strong as he re-invents himself. He also loves performing at senior communities. “It’s enjoyable to see people who've worked hard and are now in the second or third act of life. They really enjoy laughing—especially about themselves. It’s refreshing to see them really respond.” Greg still performs around the country when not working on his YouTube show and of course, winning at pickleball. “I am going out on a cruise ship soon and I can’t wait to see people of all ages in one room having fun!”

 

Greg’s (Un)retirement advice:
  • “Laugh! It’s so cliché but I believe laughing is good for your health and keeps your mind sharp. At this age, that’s so key.”
  • “It’s never too late to try something new. Also, don’t worry about what others think of you!”
  • “Look for the next FUN project! I don’t care where you are in your life, it’s out there.”
• More about Greg Schwem
• Sponsored by Capital Advantage
 
Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the “I Used to Be Somebody” weekly blog.

 

Tags:    blog   interview   unretirement   pickleball   comedy   stand-up   third-act  

Paul Ollinger Interview: Former Facebook Exec Turn Comedian -- “Now I’m Me!”

Diana Landau | October 05, 2021

 
Carl talks with Paul Ollinger, an author, stand-up comedian and host of the Crazy Money podcast. He also has an MBA from Dartmouth’s Tuck School and was one of the first 250 employees of Facebook, where he served as VP of West Coast Sales. You could say Paul is on his third successful career at this point.
 
Paul grew up in a suburb of Atlanta, one of six kids from a big Catholic family. His father was an engineer for a Georgia utility company and although there was money, his parents were frugal and there was a strict budget. Paul felt that anxiety about money as a kid and as his careers at Facebook and in comedy rewarded him, he realized that no matter how much money you make, you can still feel stressed about it. His podcast, Crazy Money is not about how to make more money but about exploring the connection between money, happiness, work and meaning.
 
Paul’s path to success has been anything but linear. After college and a focus on business, Paul made his first attempt to become a stand-up comedian and became a host at LA comedy clubs, opening for many big names at the time. Then he got married and started thinking about a more stable career for raising a family. A friend asked him if he wanted to be part of this new social media start-up company—he became the 250th employee at Facebook.
 
After relocations to other cities and promotions, in 2012 Paul left his very financially secure job and decided to put down roots for his young family. Atlanta was home. For the first few years, Paul wasn’t sure what to do. “I didn’t go toward anything after I quit my job.” He then worked for a year but knew it wasn’t the right fit. He decided to face his real fear—would he fail if he went back to comedy? He started writing every day, got himself into the comedy scenes in various cities and committed to his new path.
 
Carl agreed that forging an entirely new career is scary—but it’s invigorating! Paul noted that the nervousness means you really care about what you’re doing because you want to figure it out. “Breaking ourselves out of the mode by which we’ve been measuring ourselves for past decades is highly disconcerting, but it’s what you need to do to find a new path in the post-corporate world.” Now in 2021, Paul has a very successful career as a stand-up comedian, author and speaker, and is also busy hosting his podcast. From a young age, Paul has been driven to push himself to new heights. “I just want to get so much better at everything I do!”
 
(Un)retirement advice from Paul Ollinger:
  • “Change your metrics! The way you’ve been evaluating your life in the work world will be very different afterwards. And if you’re looking for external validation like bonuses and titles and being known in the industry, that goes away…..YOU have to be the one to monitor your own progress.”
  • “We need to have a longer term ‘through line’ in our lives. That’s where the meaning lives. The sooner you can get on it and it feels authentic to you, the sooner you’ll get to this is me, this is my life.”
  • “Let go of worrying about anyone else. You are doing (this new path) for you. The world may not notice. Do it because it’s an expression of who you are without any external reward.”

 

• More about Paul Ollinger and his podcast Crazy Money: https://paulollinger.com/about/
• Sponsored by: lovemyheartstudy.com or call (866) 955-1594

 

Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the “I Used to Be Somebody” weekly blog.

 

Tags:    blog   facebook   executive   unretirement   comedy   paul ollinger   crazy money   dartmouth   career  

Jack Gallagher Interview: Take a Chance!

Diana Landau | May 11, 2021

Episode 29 Jack Gallagher - Comedian, Writer, Musician, TV Host and Larry David's Doctor!Carl talks with Jack Gallagher, a comedian, actor, and writer, and Emmy award- winning television host of the PBS series Money Moves (nationally syndicated), Off-Limits, and Kids, Cash and Common Sense. He was also the host of California's The Big Spin Game Show and had a recurring role as a doctor on the hit HBO sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm.
 
But there’s more! Jack is also the author and performer of eight critically acclaimed one-man shows. We’ve seen most of these highly personal, very relatable shows that make you laugh, cry and laugh again. His shows stay with you. So what’s Jack doing now? He’s still working and loving it, but also trying to take it easy. “I’m not chasing it anymore, but if someone calls, I’ll consider it.” (Of course, they still do.)
 
Jack grew up in a hard-working Irish Catholic family with 5 kids in the small town of West Bridgewater near Boston, MA. Jack says he was a shy kid growing up. (Most comedians are actually introverts.) By the age of 10, Jack knew he wanted to be a comedian, to make people laugh. “It took me out of my shell,” he says. His conservative parents were not so sure at first but eventually they came around.
 
After working towards a teaching degree, Jack took a chance and started performing at a Comedy Night on Campus, then in the Boston comedy scene just as it started to take off. Boston became a hotbed of comedy “greats.” It all happened pretty fast. Signed by an agent, Jack moved to LA and became a regular at the Improv. “Hecklers make you battle-tested,” Jack laughs. Then came the big break—an appearance on the Johnny Carson show. Performances followed.
 
In 1987 he was hired by KCRA in Sacramento to do a show. After being on the road for 15 years, Jack and his wife decided to stay, raise a family. He would fly down to LA and do his shows and then come back to Sac. He also had the opportunity to perform on Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. “It was a lot of ad lib—which is fun!” Always writing, Jack created eight one-man plays. Carl notes the stamina that takes. They require 60 shows in 6 weeks, 1.5 hours a night, 2 hours a night on Saturdays. “The audience rides the rollercoaster with me,” says Jack.
 
So now after a long, successful career, Jack at age 68 is still taking chances, but also taking it easy. He still writes and also performs in a band. Jack and his wife, Jean Ellen are also spending time visiting their sons, traveling when possible and every year they go to Massachusetts. “I’m really good at what I do. I’ve been incredibly lucky, it’s worked out.”
 
UnRetirement insights from Jack Gallagher:
 
  • “It’s weird to get old. Everything hurts! But I’m still 30-35 in my head. Sometimes I get recognized and sometimes I don’t and that’s okay!”
  • “I always tell my kids, the worst thing that can happen to you is someone says ‘No’. Just try something, take a chance!”
Check Out More Super Fun Untretirement Tips
  • “I still like what I do, I still love performing. (But now) I try to do stuff that’s just fun!”

 

For More Information about Jack Gallagher: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Gallagher_(comedian)
 

 

Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the “I Used to Be Somebody” weekly blog.
 
 
Tags:    blog   interview   Jack Gallagher   author   performer   risktaker   comedy   unretirement   Larry David   improv  

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