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Every Day Life is Inspiration for Comedy: Recovery Comic Al Berman
Recovery Comedians, Comics Anonymous, Recovery Comedy, Recovery Comic, Clean and Sober Comedy
12 Step Comedian Al Berman

In May 1988 Al was in the midst of a modest punk rock career when he was struck sober. With newfound clarity he realized he now wished to go into a less noisy field.
Two years later he made his 12 step standup debut at an “Evening of Compulsive Comedy” sponsored by OA in Los Angeles.
He has appeared in many more 12 step recovery events as well as in Alano clubs throughout southern California.
He has also appeared in the renowned “Yukaholics”.
In the so called normal world Al regularly performs in TV, movies, commercials, clubs and colleges.
Al is the proud owner of over 20 years of sobriety from drugs and alcohol.

Recovery Comedy:  What were you like as a kid?

Al Berman:   I was a funny little kid.  I used to perform and entertain my parent’s guests.  I would play a miniature piano and sing.  There’s a story they tell me that I made this one guest laugh and he had a reputation for never laughing.  So that’s me as a kid

Recovery Comedy:  What made you decide to become a stand-up comedian and how long have you been performing?

Al Berman:  I loved comedy as a kid and seeing all the comedians on TV.  When I was a little older I visited New York to see live comedy.  I remember seeing Jack Leonard once on the street and I thought to myself, “Oh my god, he is just walking around New York like a regular human being!”  I then started dabbling in comedy, but I took a short drug and alcohol break.  My official start date was around 1990 sober.

Recovery Comedy:  Were you performing comedy before you got sober?

Al Berman:  I remember being 20 and doing stand-up in weird places and lots of drugs and alcohol, but I don’t remember much else.

Recovery Comedy:  Does your comedy have a message and if so what is it?

Al Berman:  It depends on the bit.  I try to be funny but I don’t try to be too low or highbrow.  I’m trying to be authentic to myself.  I gotta be me man!

Recovery Comedy:  Who are your comedy idols?

Al Berman:  This will date me, but to me this is the holy trinity of comedy, Richard Pyror, George Carlin and Robert Klein.  Those were the 3 that I would watch and think, “Holy cow this is what I want to be!  This is what I want to do!”  Today the bar has been lowered there isn’t as much talent.  These days there is just a lot of mediocre comedy.  I don’t know why maybe because there is just a lot of time to fill on TV?

Recovery Comedy:  Where does your inspiration for material come from?

Al Berman:  Bob Dylan, anything… whatever comes into my life, whatever I observe.  My alcohol bit is from a true experience.  That is what I do.  I also have a podcast which has been great for trying out a lot of new material.  I’m just experimenting with it.

Recovery Comedy:  What is your joke writing process?

Al Berman:  I have a couple of different ways.  I get an idea and I just riff on it.  I just stick with it.  I used to write word for word but that doesn’t work for me. I need to improvise.  I go to different comedy clubs and just try out ideas.

Recovery Comedy:  What is your Kryptonite?

Al Berman:  Well this came up in my therapy. I am a massive self-saboteur.  I almost didn’t get back to you about this interview because I was thinking, “Who is this guy who I met years ago?”  I think I could have been a lot further in my career if I had not sabotaged myself so much.  I’m trying to mend that.

Recovery Comedy:  Is your family supportive or your comedy career?

Al Berman:  I don’t let my family in on a lot of what I do until it happens.  This business is full of so much disappointment that I wouldn’t tell my folks about things until they happen because they don’t understand the business and I don’t want them to be disappointed.

Recovery Comedy:  Is comedy part of your healing process?

Al Berman:  I would say yes and I didn’t know that comedy could be a healing tool.  Do you know Greg Shoemaker?  He did a laughter and healing show for people with a debilitating disease and a friend of mine who is an actress who passed away told me to check Greg out.  Because of her I became something like Greg’s right hand man and helped to put together a lot of these laughter and healing type shows.

Recovery Comedy:  What was your worst experience performing comedy?

Al Berman:  Let’s see.  I would say it didn’t have to be, but early on in my career I was booked to open for a headliner.  The headliner’s wife and I were going to split the 20 minute opening slot.  Then she didn’t want to do it.  At the time I had about 2 minutes of material and now I had to do 20 minutes.  I could have done better if I had had some chops, but I didn’t.  Finally the headliner was at the side of the stage telling me to get off.

Recovery Comedy:  What was your best experience performing comedy?

Al Berman:  I was opening for a famous comedian.  We were at a college.  I was up there in the afternoon and we were filming a documentary. The filming guy got stuck in Burbank so I had to stretch my time for an extra 30 minutes.  I don’t think I did any new material I just riffed for 20 minutes and there was an applause break every few minutes.  Finally the famous comedian showed up and he said, “How the hell am I supposed to follow that?”  I would say that was one of my better shows.

Recovery Comedy:  What is your favorite joke?

Al Berman:  I don’t have a favorite.

Recovery Comedy:  What is your comedy dream?

Al Berman:  I discovered how global the comedy market is?  I have fans in India and China among other places.  My dream is to be able to travel all over the world and to comedy in theaters.  I also wouldn’t be opposed to having a movie every once in a while.

Recovery Comedy:  Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us and for your honesty.  We hope to be working with you very soon!

To find out more information about Al Berman or to book him for your next Recovery Convention just click here!


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