Monday, August 10, 2009

When Unemployment is a Laughing Matter

The recession appears to be pushing more people to give a life of comedy a try.

Still, a recession always seems to draw people toward careers in comedy, says Stephen Rosenfield, who has operated one of the country's pre-eminent joke-telling schools, the American Comedy Institute, since 1989. His three-week workshops, which start at $425 a pop, sold out this summer, and he's taking reservations for September.

"It's not so strange in a way," Rosenfield says, adding a recession provides "good cover" for someone interested in making the kind of career change that might be considered idiotic at other times.

"If you're bringing home a nice paycheck, and you've got a nice executive position and you announce to your wife or your parents that you're giving it up to become a standup comic, they'll think you're insane," he says. "But if you're in a recession and you're unemployed and jobs are hard to find, they'll say, 'Oh, that's interesting.'"

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