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.
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.”
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.