We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah J. Halstead and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sarah, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
I’ve always been inspired by the dark horse. The one everyone underestimates during the first leg of the race, who then comes blazing out of the pack with fierce and undeniable force, surpassing everyone who’d once written them off — be it a politician, athlete, entertainer, or head fryer at McDonalds. Forget the eye of the tiger — I like the eye of Seabiscuit.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Five years ago I loaded my suitcase and two cats into a thirty-foot RV I didn’t know how to drive, then made my way from Miami to Los Angeles with big dreams of becoming a standup comic. My story isn’t that unique – a lot of artists move to L.A. to follow their dreams — but I did it at an age when most people thought I’d already figured everything out. I had a good job in the champagne business, a waterfront home, and a solid network of friends, family and colleagues. A lot of those people thought I was crazy to throw all that overboard to pursue such an improbable dream. They said I was too old, didn’t have a name or a following, and then they’d repeat I was too old. The jury’s still out on my sanity, but this spring my comedy special RVs and Cats came out on Amazon Prime, and my album just hit Apple Music, Spotify, iTunes and Deezer (I had no idea there was a Deezer till about a week ago). Both are doing surprisingly well – I think the quarantine helped. It’s amazing how well a special will do when people are imprisoned in their homes and have already watched Tiger King.
These past five years have been hard. Harder than I ever could have imagined. A lot of rejection, a lot of feeling very small at times, and a LOT of banging my head on my steering wheel after a bad open mic. I thought my situation was unique — but then, in the course of my podcast Drinking During Business Hours, I spoke to a slew of entertainers who’d had the exact same experience. None of them thought they were successful — and many of these people were boldface names with awards and accomplishments I couldn’t even dream of. That’s when I had an epiphany: I’m always going to be chasing. So I’d better start enjoying the chase.
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?
Here’s how they should spend their weekend: Friday night, hit the Comedy Store in Hollywood for people-watching on the patio, then head upstairs to the Belly Room for overpriced drinks, dank carpet smell, and an assortment of misfit comics. You might even see me do a tight ten minutes, as that’s sort of my home club. Saturday night, go to Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank to savor improbably terrific pizza while enjoying a different breed of misfit standups known as “Valley Comics.” And then Sunday night, it’s back to Hollywood for Chocolate Sundaes at the Laugh Factory — the best urban show in the nation.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I owe so much of who I am to my Dad. Though he rated my Amazon special only four stars, ruining my perfect five-star rating ’cause he didn’t want to seem biased, I know he’s proud of me, and I know that so much what I’ve achieved is because of his tough love. My Dad always made sure my brother and I had access to the arts in our hometown of Flint, Michigan, keeping us busy with music lessons and live concerts. He also put running shoes on my thirteen-year-old feet, introducing the importance of health and fitness at a young age. And my Dad is also a supreme example of artistic dedication — he’s a classical guitarist who never skips a day of practice. He’s always said that as long as I have a passion and goals I’ll always feel fulfilled.