We had the good fortune of connecting with Paul Moomjean and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Paul, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born in a middle class Los Angeles home in Van Nuys. At twelve years old my mom moved my brother and I to Simi Valley, where I spent my adolescence and young adult life, coaching wrestling, teaching high school and college English courses, writing for a local paper, and volunteering at my church. Today, at 39 years old, I’m a professional stand up comedian with multiple TV credits ranging from Nickelodeon to Laughs on Fox to an upcoming Dry Bar Special.
I started stand up comedy at 32 years old as a bucket list item, and now I run the Flappers Comedy Club comedy school Flappers University. We’ve doubled our offerings of classes through the pandemic. It’s been an exciting time.
My background in coaching and teaching young adults is the cornerstone to any success I’ve had as a performer and comedy teacher. Most of the comics I work with are starting out, just as most of my athletes and students were learning concepts for the first time.
I was a very successful coach, winning 10 league titles and 3 section titles. The trick with teaching comedy, like coaching wrestling, is to let people be free to make mistakes and pick themselves up. I don’t think about correcting someone, as much as enhancing their understanding of a situation, so they can take ownership. Because I’m not the one on center stage – they are.
As an English teacher, I had to make dry material come alive. Just like in comedy. My stories might not be inherently interesting, but the passion and vulnerability I bring to the comedy can make even the smallest of stories come alive. People want to be around enthusiastic people, and my comedy should be contagious. Connecting emotionally to material is a lesson I repeat often, because it’s where real comedy comes alive.
As a comedy teacher, I use my Christian value system by listening, asking questions, showing patience and kindness and not judging. I know that’s not how the church appears today, but that’s how I interpret the life of Christ. To be a great teacher you have to love your role and your students. If they think a teacher is just there to collect a check, everyone will be unfulfilled and eventually frustrated. Each comic who walks through our doors or zooms in from home has a story. My job is to help them tell it.
I’ve lived a very blessed life, and I love that I spend most of my time working with comics and new comics developing their voice. I learn so much from them by how they demonstrate their commitment. I always tell people it is in my background as an educator and coach that has taught me to see the value in everyone by just listening and giving enhancements to their story when possible. Teaching comedy and mentoring others is just one way I’m doing that today.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As a stand up comedian, I find great joy in making people laugh. I tend to work pretty clean, so I feel the need to be as original and funny as possible, because my premises/jokes don’t naturally get laughs. I talk about my faith, teaching career, bad dating stories and odd jobs over the years. I try to create a comedic environment that lets people feel relatable in the story. We all have had bad dates or bad jobs, but through humor we can process through the pain and come out victorious because we didn’t let those hardships defeat us.
My stand up background started at 32 as a bucket list item. I was fortunate, because as a coach and teacher the previous 15 years, I used humor to relate to my students and athletes. Plus I emceed many events, so the public speaking and humor was an easy transition. The struggle was trying to make strangers laugh, as most of my students already knew me, creating context to my jokes or ramblings.
Yet, once I learned how to share my identity early in my set, I was able to go down more avenues in comedy and talk openly about the topics I wanted to share.
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned through stand up is to talk TO the audience, not AT the audience. It’s not about getting through material or trying a joke to see if it works. It’s about having a conversation where the comic shares a truth through humor and the audience responds through laughter, shock, and sometimes silence. Then I have to recover, and reconnect to keep the conversation going. If I’m not listening to the crowd, then why be there? I might as well stream roll through my jokes in front of my bathroom mirror.
What I hope people get out of my comedy and my teaching and writing is that we all have a voice. We all have something to say. But it needs to be real and authentic and truthful. We cannot hide because we are afraid how others see us. Everything from our embarrassing family members, our jobs, and our faith or lack thereof shape us and embracing it is a positive for everyone.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m not as much of a traveler as I’d like to be, but if my best friend Adam were to come into town, I know we’d try to catch a lot of sporting events and movies. We’d find the best restaurants and enjoy the conversations each location and event would inspire. I would make sure to take him to the beach restaurants of Malibu, like Moonshadows, visit the Burbank bar scene and AMC 16 palace. We’d try to find great breweries and catch a Clipper game at Staples Center. Sorry, I’m not that exciting. Is this why I’m still single? Hahaha.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to a wrestling coach I worked with named Terry Fischer, who taught me how to see the value in each person, and to never stop laughing.
Other: www.FlappersUniversity.com Hey on our mailing list to read my Thursday articles. They’ve become quite popular.
Nick Wuthrich (Gigglebash)