Patty Forehand Interview: Elementary School Teacher Becomes Stand-Up Comedian
Diana Landau | January 09, 2024
Carl interviews the inimitable Patty Forehand, who was an elementary school teacher for 32 years before making the transition to a successful, hilarious stand-up comedian. She traded her class of students for the comedy club audience has never looked back. This (un)retired grandmother has no apologies for her raw, unfiltered comedy and she shares with our audience just how she made the transition to a completely different career.
Patty grew up near Macon Georgia with her three much older sisters. "My sisters say I was spoiled and I was." Her father suffered from ailments and multiple surgeries and her mother battled illness. "I learned humor was a salve to make people feel better."
In middle school, Patty says she was a wild child. It wasn't until she started high school and found her people--the drama kids. "Being in drama class felt therapeutic, to be somebody else on stage, or making people laugh," she says. An average student at best, her father bribed her to go to college by buying her a car. "He said Chevette but I thought he said Corvette!"
After a false start in nursing, Patty found she excelled at teaching. "I love the way kids think!" As a struggling student herself, she had empathy for kids who have challenges at home and school. She spent 32 years as a teacher and loved it. "It was very fulfilling. But you can't do it forever." Carl points out that teaching is very much in front of an audience and so is stand-up. They agree both are tough audiences! With six months to go before she retired from teaching, Patty went to an open mike with friends, on a whim. Patty performed a five minute routine and she found her new calling.
She started taking classes and doing more open mics. "I had a lot of encouragement early on. I fell in love with stand-up," she adds. Her big “Aha!" moment came when she was referred to a reporter for the Washington Post who was interviewing people over 50 who were doing something different. Tune in to hear how she had a chance to work with Michelle Pfeiffer once and find out about her weirdest gig ever. Now Patty performs regularly all over the country and has had stints in radio, podcasts, TV and more. She's having a blast!
Patty Forehand's (un)retirement tips:
Pushing beyond your comfort zone: "I think that's where you grow, especially after 50. We want to work that brain! Do things you don't think you're good at--you might surprise yourself."
Switching it up: "You end up in a routine and it's good to challenge that. For example, my husband did all the cooking. So now I have learned to cook a few things and he had to let go of it. It has freed him up to pursue other things he enjoys."
Trying something new: "Take it out of your brain! Stop just thinking about it. You actually have to take a physical step toward your dream."
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" blog.