Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Recession Turning Some into Comedians; IT'S NO JOKE Wannabees Turn to Standup, Use the Economy for Material

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Recession Turning Some into Comedians; IT'S NO JOKE Wannabees Turn to Standup, Use the Economy for Material

Article excerpt

LOS ANGELES -- There's just something about a recession that makes people want to do funny things.

Like wannabe comics who are out of a job and hoping amateur hour at comedy clubs could be the ticket to a paycheck -- and maybe stardom. Because, really, how hard could that be?

At New York City's Gotham Comedy Club, co-owner Chris Mazzilli says he saw more than 1,000 such hopefuls recently as they tried to win a spot on a program on Comedy Central's "Live at Gotham."

"We've had financial people, attorneys, garbage men, right down the line," he said.

Fred Pozin, owner of The Comedy Zone in Jacksonville, says he's seen a spike in aspiring comics at his eight-week comedy workshop. The workshop costs $120 and offers those who do well a chance to work at the club.

"With the downsizing of jobs and the stress people have at work now, I think people are looking for a comic outlet," he told The Times-Union. "People have reached a point where they want to do what they want to do. 'I work for this company from 9 to 5. I need to do something different because I'm stressed.' "

At the Laugh Factory on Hollywood's Sunset Strip, people line up around the block for open-mic night, The Associated Press reported. Some even show up the night before to ensure they will land one of 30 coveted slots that will pay them nothing. But if they do well they might win a paying gig later.

Jefandi Cato, 27, was so broke after she lost her job as a waitress that she said she was forced to move into her car this year. Still, she counts her misfortune as a blessing, saying it gave her the courage to finally do what she always wanted.

On stage, she tells the audience things aren't as bad as they could be; she's still managing to get her hair done.

"But what's sad about that is that I have a white girl braiding my hair," said Cato, who is black. "That's how you know the economy is going down the drain."

Her line gets big laughs.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada says he's blunt with people trying to switch careers in this recession, especially the older aspiring comics in their 40s and 50s that he says he sees more often these days. …

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