Sammy Obeid nears the finish line of a comedy marathon
Think of something you love to do.
Maybe it’s exciting and dangerous, like mountain biking or gambling. Maybe it’s as commonplace as watching your favorite sports team play or giving a loved one a gift.
Consider something that makes you think, “I could never get tired of that” and now imagine doing that thing for 1,000 consecutive days. Nearly three years. Every. Damn. Day.
Stand-up comic Sammy Obeid is closing in on 1,000 consecutive days of performing. Let that sink in for a moment. A thousand days, a thousand sets. Kind of mind-boggling, isn’t it?
What’s even crazier is that Obeid didn’t begin this incredible run of performances with the goal of doing 1,000 in a row, but here he is, on day No. 990 and the finish line is clearly in sight, with a Conan spot scheduled during the home stretch.
Obeid, an Oakland native and California-Berkeley graduate, took time out of his obviously busy schedule to talk about the origins of his 1,000 Days of Comedy adventure, some of the weird, hostile places he’s performed and what he plans on doing on day No. 1,001.
TC: I’ll try to keep this interview moving at a fast pace since that seems to be how your life has been these past couple of years, right?
SO: Fast-paced, my favorite thing in the world. (laughs) Yeah, that’s what it’s about. Today is actually a day where I’m sitting at home trying to do as little as possible, but yeah, that’s definitely how I’ve felt these past three years.
TC: How did the idea for 1,000 consecutive days of performing come about?
SO: It wasn’t the idea in the beginning. I’m sure if somebody had approached me on Day 1 and said, “Hey man, you’re going to do a thousand days” I probably would have tried to attack them.
But what happened was, I kept going and I made it to 100 and people we’re like, you should do 365. I was like, I could do that, and that became the goal. That was manageable.
Then, when I got to 365, someone told me that Hal Sparks did two years in a row and I thought, “Am I just going to be a half-achiever or am I going to try to do this?”
At that point, I sucked it up and said, “If I can do one year, I can do two.” Then, I wanted to beat that and go further so, I might as well set it at a thousand. At some point in the middle, I just locked into the idea of a thousand.
At first, I was just really headstrong and as it got near the end, it was, “Oh my god! What am I doing?” But there was no way I was giving up after going that far.
TC: When the thousand is up, do you think you’re going to miss going up every single night or will you be happy for a break?
SO: I think I’m going to be happy for a break. A lot of people are saying, “You’re going to go into withdrawals and you’re going to want a mic,” but I think I’m actually going to enjoy my vacation. I know that I’m not leaving (stand-up). I’m going to come back. It’s not like I’m quitting something cold turkey. I’m just taking a much-needed break.
I’m sure I will miss an element of having this thing going on, but I’m definitely looking forward to moving into the next phase of my life.
TC: Can you think of any strange, out of the ordinary places where you’ve performed during this streak?
SO: There’s weird towns and there’s weird venues. A lot of these things would have existed otherwise at comedy shows even if I wasn’t doing the streak.
I’ve done shows in bowling alleys, laundromats. Comedians are already doing weird shows. I’ve had to set up a canned food drive on Thanksgiving. I’ve had to bum rush bars.
I had to bum rush an Irish bar one night. I had to stop karaoke so that I could do five minutes and keep my streak alive. They let me do it and some guy, who I guess really wanted the karaoke, came up and punched me in the stomach.
SO: Yeah. But I had done my time, so it was all good. Those kinds of things. Yeah.
TC: Any comedy heroes you’ve met during this journey?
SO: You know, I don’t really idolize anybody. I never really looked up to anyone in particular, but along the way I’ve had run-ins with Louis CK, Dave Chappelle, Bill Burr. Really, really good comedians who were an influence in some shape or form.
I can’t say that these are my heroes. After doing comedy for a thousand days in a row, I don’t know that this is heroic at all. (laughs) But it was definitely a pleasure to be around any of those guys with that experience, you know?
TC: Absolutely. I know you said you were trying to take it easy, but what’s the plan for tonight?
SO: I actually have three or four shows that I’m going to do in San Francisco tonight. San Francisco’s kind of like my home base. The second Monday of every month is always packed with all these different shows going on, so it’s going to be a nice little run that I’m going to do. Some of my favorite shows, like Cafe Royale and the Brainwash open mic, where they let me do my half-hour. It’s always a lot of fun.
TC: Your chops have to be as good as they’ve ever been, aren’t they?
SO: For sure. I definitely have the most momentum I’ve ever had. I’m sharp and I know what I’m doing. Everything is very natural when I’m on stage.
I think in comedy, there are two big factors for how sharp you are: Your overall experience — how much time you’ve spent in the game — and then, your momentum. Currently, how much time you’re putting in. Were you doing seven shows in the last seven nights or were you taking a break? That momentum is a big factor. I really think it shapes how sharp you are at the moment.
Here it is, The Best Tweet I Can Find In Five Minutes:
next time you are at a gallery yell out “HEY WHO ARTED” then everyone will laugh so much probably
— rap game glenna (@glenna_opt) September 10, 2013