Comedian Sells Jokes For $1 In Central Park
They say that everyone's a comedian in New York, but not everyone tries to prove it every day in Central Park.
When 26-year-old Jason Schneider graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007, he moved to New York like many an aspiring 20-something. Hoping to break into the comedy world, he applied for internships with Comedy Central, Time Warner and HBO. He was rejected by all. He then went on to work a series of temp jobs, including one with the Morgan Stanley bank, as well as a host of other delivery jobs.
"I was doing stand-up immediately on the side," he says in an interview with AOL Jobs. "Then I realized that I love the outdoors, so I decided to combine the two."
As was originally reported in the New York Daily News, Schneider began showing up this past April in New York's Central Park on a daily basis to sell his comedy. Holding a sign that reads, "$1 Jokes; Laughter Guaranteed," Schneider approaches passersby with the promise of a refund should he fail to please his audience.
"I run around and dance with it, trying to get people's attention. People don't really ask for their money back," he says. "I tell jokes that are topical, part goofy, part smart."
He even offered up the lighter side of his brand of humor while speaking to AOL Jobs.
"Who did the promiscuous cow sleep with," he asks. "Udderly everyone."
"He brightened my day," one member of his park audience, Mary McLean, 52, from South Lanarkshire, Scotland, told the Daily News.
He says he makes around $100 to $120 a day. Like many aspiring comedians of his generation, he draws inspiration from Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Dave Chapelle.
Schneider's unconventional approach to the comedy world has forced him to confront his audience firsthand. In other comedy venues, a comedian rarely interacts one-on-one with his audience, and in most venues the possibility of a flop can be balanced by approval from at least a segment of the audience. But Schneider appreciates the street dynamic; while he rarely encounters people who ask for their dollar back, he demands that anyone who doesn't laugh cash in on the refund.
The exacting standard is in keeping with Schneider's regimen. He says that he wakes up at 4 a.m. to write for four hours, before heading to the park at 10 a.m., where he stays till 6 p.m.
"My one day off is when it rains."
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Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.
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