Elbaum's World 96: Going Pro 💪


Going Pro 💪

I'm taking a stand-up comedy class this fall, and our teacher is a working comedian. He's probably not someone you're familiar with, but he's making a living full-time as a comic. His story has made me think about the nature of pursuing art (and similar ventures) as a career, and the fact that there are varying levels to being a "professional" version of something.

I think there’s something to be said for doing what you love and making a living at it, even if you aren't attaining the highest degrees of what we typically consider to be success. Here are a few examples I've been reflecting on:

  • Over the summer I had dinner with my parents at our favorite Thai restaurant in my hometown. Our waiter mentioned he picked up a few shifts here and there, but his main job was as a saxophonist. He had a private lesson studio, booked gigs at local playhouses and theaters, and played in his own bands. Perhaps not the most glamorous lifestyle, but the guy was pursuing music sustainably.
  • There are tons of ex-college basketball players playing overseas, particularly in Europe. You're not likely to have heard of them, but they're playing the game they love in front of real fans, and are getting paid to do so.
  • I recently heard Taylor Tomlinson on a podcast mention all of the types of venues she's performed in: churches, corporate events, clubs, colleges and cruise ships. It may be a little more unique to comedy, but there are many groups who are willing to pay someone to entertain them.

All to say, I think there are a lot of ways to work in fields where the highest rewards (i.e. becoming Brad Pitt) are prone to randomness.

If the love of the game is driving you (and not traditional notions of achievement), then there's a way to make it happen.

Pete's Picks ✅

  1. What I'm Reading: I started The Second Mountain, and it's been a thought-provoking read. In it, David Brooks details a life lived in pursuit of self versus a life marked by commitment, interdependence and service of others. I'd recommend this book to anyone, but you'll especially like it if you tend to enjoy reflecting on life.
  2. What I'm Watching: Given my dabbling with comedy, I've been enjoying Crashing on HBO. Welcome to Wrexham has also been a fun, heart-warming watch.
  3. What I'm Listening To: I love reading biographical stories but am currently trying to read more fiction. Thankfully I discovered the Founders podcast, in which the host summarizes a biography he read that week. Most of the episodes focus on a business superstar, but there are also episodes on Bob Dylan, Kobe, etc. Amazing resource if you like this kind of thing.



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