I am an up and coming comedian from St. Louis, MO, working in the Atlanta area. My comedy covers a variety of topics that we all deal with in our daily struggles, and my energetic delivery offers clever content with plenty of punchlines. I currently perform in urban and mainstream comedy clubs, churches and various other venues. I am also the producer and host of two monthly shows in the Atlanta area: The Eat, Drink, Laugh Comedy Show at Uptown Comedy Corner and Soulful Sunday’s Clean Comedy Show at Atlanta Comedy Theater.
I first began writing down my funniest thoughts around 2008 while earning a Ph.D. in environmental science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While working as a college math and science tutor, I began writing on some of the slower days in the tutoring lab. It wouldn’t be until six years later, after I graduated and took a job in Atlanta, that I would actually share these thoughts on stage as a stand up comedian. My 1st show was July 23rd, 2014, at the Laughing Skull. It’s funny how years of school presentations, teaching classes, and defending my research in pursuit of my Ph.D. gave me confidence on stage. My 1st show was not perfect by any means, but people did laugh.
Performing comedy on stage has since become a drug of some sort. It’s an adrenaline rush to have tens to hundreds of people hanging on every word and them erupting in laughter on my queue. It’s like I am a “Puppet Master of Men” (and women) controlling their emotions to some degree. It’s fun to say the least (when you’re funny). Since my 1st show, I have focused on finding my comedic voice and just figuring out how to be funny. I have done this mainly by getting on stage and practicing and average 2-3 nights a week. I have performed as many as eight shows in a week! I am nearly at my six-year anniversary with adds up to a lot of practice. I figure I will have done over 1000 comedy shows soon. Over these six years, the shows I perform in have become more exclusive: The Mon-Wed 3-5 min set open mic spots at sports bars have become, 10-30 min feature and guest spots on weekend shows at comedy clubs. I get paid to perform, and not just in a bar tab (sometimes its actual money).
So now, I am a professional comedian working in the Atlanta area. I sometimes travel on weekends and feature for some great comedians. I am at the point where I am funny enough to be a headliner, but I do not have the resume to dictate packing a venue for the weekend (I’m working on it). My goal is to be one day be mentioned as one of the funniest comedians of all time. I know this can be a long road, so I still have not quit my day job. I am constantly juggling my two lives: During the day, I am Dr. Aaron Young, environmental health scientist, and at night I am Comedian Weight Ball, comedian, host, emcee, people puppeteer, (and soon to be an actor).
Has it been a smooth road?For me, valuing my own work has been a struggle. Comedy in Atlanta is somewhat saturated and the compensation for performing is lower than other cities. There are literally hundreds of comedian residing in the Atlanta area. Every year there are new comedians starting comedy and older ones that give it up. While nearly all comedians from those doing it six months to those doing it 16 years, market themselves as comedians ready for booking, obviously some are better than others.
Often times the best comics are passed over for the best salesman (or woman), or whichever comedian is cheapest. I am blessed to have a day job that can support my comedy career. It allows me to pick and choose the shows I do and not just take every show offered. I rather do a show for free, say for a charity event or as a returnable favor, than accept $40 and some chicken wings to perform at a local bar. (But for some of the comedians in Atlanta $40 and wings is not a bad deal). I obviously value my comedy more than the current going rates in the city of Atlanta, but when seasoned veterans, with TV credits, take chicken wing deals, for comedy shows, its makes it hard to find the value in your craft. Especially as an up-and-coming comedian with a thin resume. Also, matter how funny you are, someone (usually a veteran comic or promoter) has to vouch for you at some point in order for you to gain access to more exclusive opportunities, at larger venues, for more pay. Unless you have 100k+ followers, It is hard to get into some venues without a veteran cosigner of sorts.
We’d love to hear more about your work.I am open for booking as a comedian, host, and emcee specializing in clean comedy. I produce some great comedy shows that always include live music and a live painting. My shows celebrate various art forms and have featured poets, musicians, vocalists, painters, ventriloquists, mathematicians, etc. It’s an amazing show that I would pay to see.
About half of my shows are clean shows geared for a family outing 12 and up. My clean shows are an event where multiple generations of a family can all enjoy a show together from the teenagers to their parents, grandparents. We challenge the belief that clean comedy can’t be hilarious. One thing that sets me apart from some comedians: I have a variety of jokes for all audiences. None of my shows are exactly the same, and I always tailor my jokes to fit the demographic of the crowd. Whether young, old, foreign or domestic, we are going to share a laugh together.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?Social media has taken comedy from the stage to the internet. Your number of Instagram followers means just as much, if not more than how funny you are. Today’s comics have to diversify into being more than just a stand-up comedian. And sometimes more than just an entertainer in terms of understanding principles behind writing for TV, film editing, sound, social media presence, and branding. Today’s comics must have an internet presence for relevance. Even the comics that have made it to the big screen and had large tours before the social media boom has had to divert time from entertaining live audiences to entertaining the worldwide web.
Unfortunately, likes on social media can be just as addictive as laughs from a live audience. I’m not sure of the conversion rate of laughs to likes but a live laugh is definitely worth more. Now I have yet to have a video go viral, but I have received a few standing ovations from crowds of 100+. I’ll definitely take the standing ovation from 100 over ten times that many likes (1000 likes). But I would definitely trade a few standing O’s for one for a video with one million views.