We had the good fortune of connecting with Seth Lawrence and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Seth, what’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?
My career in standup has taught me that I need to be honest about who I am and what I believe. I was pursuing standup for about 6 months and wasn’t really making any headway. I would go to open mics almost every single night of the week, and people would not remember me. I would perform and leave the stage feeling that I had been holding myself back. At around my 6-month mark, I decided that I needed to talk about my religious background and current religious beliefs. I wrote a short set about these more personal aspects, and I felt that performance was one that changed my standup career. As I have developed this material and expanded on it, people remember me for my material. Standup is no different from any other career. It’s all about networking, developing connections. You cannot create a network if no one remembers you. My irreverent, pro-religious material has made me unique.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am a retired lawyer. I am a stay-at-home dad. And I am a comedian. My comedy leans toward the dark and edgy, but I firmly believe in the gospel my church teaches. My material is unapologetically pro-religion. Yes, I make fun of my beliefs. I understand how silly the origin story of the Church of Jesus Christ is to those who do not believe it. I think it is important to recognize the silliness of what we believe and how our beliefs shape our thoughts and our actions. Everyone is silly. There is power in being honest about the silliness of religion, and there is power in being devoted to the goodness of religion. Los Angeles strikes me as a spiritual place, but not as a religious place. I struggle with being honest about my beliefs in Jesus Christ. I struggle making my thoughts regarding my religion funny. I struggle to make my thoughts relatable. I struggle to see the differences between manifesting an intent to the Universe and praying to God. My material is designed to demonstrate that there is not that much that separates any of us. Everyone believes something that sounds silly to an outsider. By highlighting the silly similarities, I hope we can forget the differences. It’s in this vein that I produce a podcast called Disorganized Religion. I discuss comedy and religion with comedians. I’ve focused on speaking with comedians because they are not afraid to be honest. I’ve found that I can discuss religion with a Buddhist, an atheist, an agnostic, a wicken, with anyone and find common ground. In a romanticized vision of my art, what I want to facilitate is an open discussion where we can all find common ground, regardless of our beliefs or opinions.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Los Angeles is an impossible city to visit just one time, even for a week. I’ve lived here for nearly 4 years now, and I do not feel as though I have even come close to understanding Los Angeles. That said, there are definitely places that mean a lot to me. I’m not really an itinerary person. Here are some great spots we’d hit in no particular order. I’d love to take my friend to see The Comedy Store, Hollywood Improv, the Laugh Factory, and The Ice House. I think we’d need to go into The Last Bookstore. We could also go to a few outdoor art exhibits (the light post one near the La Brea Tarpits) and see some great murals. Hiking around Griffith Park and going to the Observatory is also a must. As for food. I think we would need to hit up Pink’s., Astro Burger, Greenblatt’s, Canter’s, and Stout. I would love to try Lucky Bird. And a definite MUST in LA is Dave’s Chillin’ and Grillin’ — easily the best sandwiches I’ve ever had in my life. Other than that, we’d have to also hit the beach…any beach really. Although, walking around Venice Beach is super fun. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The one person who has made my budding career as a standup comedian possible is my wife. She and I got married in 2010. I was preparing for law school and a career as a lawyer. She was preparing for a PhD in accounting and a career as a professor in accounting. We both did graduate school in North Carolina. I worked in Raleigh, NC as an attorney for a little over a year in 2016-2017. We had 2 kids during her doctorate studies. My wife graduated in 2017. We wanted to stay in North Carolina, but there were no academic jobs available to her when she graduated. We discussed where else we would like to live and raise our family and what I would do leaving North Carolina. After some discussion, my wife suggested I think about pursuing a career as a standup. This kind of a career would allow me the flexibility to be with my kids during the day, and an outlet in the evenings. She knew that I was very interested in being a comedian. I was raised by sensible parents who raised me to be prepared to provide for a family. I didn’t have enough faith in myself to support a family as an entertainer. My wife provided me with the security and support I needed to pursue a pipe dream. The only reason I am a standup comedian is my wife. And for that, I will be forever grateful.
Kenny Nelson, Alxis Jane Ratkevich