Making Dreams Come True for Comics and Speakers since 1984
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Who Says Comics Can't Be Rich?


Joining Judy at her NYC workshop is Dan Nainan!

Former student and comic Dan Nainan was on the cover of Parade magazine, “WhatPeople Earn: Parade’s 2013 Salary Report.”
“A former Intel engineer, Nainan took a comedy class to overcome stage fright and now makes $328,000 a year,” says the headline.
Dan lives in NYC and performs comedy all over the world, even performing for President Obama!
Recently, we did a corporate gig together, and I asked Dan what he considers to be at the root of his success.

He said, “Two words… ‘Working Clean.’”

As he honed his material in comedy clubs, Dan didn’t fall prey to doing jokes that would offend Grandma’s ears.  He knew then what he practices now: that a comic can get more gigs if he or she works clean.

Dan quickly realized that if a comedian works "blue" (dirty), he or she would be confined to low-paying gigs in comedy clubs.  Even established comedians who have been seen multiple times on David Letterman and Jay Leno only make $25 on weeknights and $75 on weekends performing in clubs.

In contrast, Dan has earned as much as $15,000 in an evening performing at colleges, corporate events, charity galas, private functions, or on cruise ships.  Developing a fully clean act can be difficult -- but the rewards are definitely worth it.

Dan also picked a topic that EVERYONE can relate to – family. Dan focused his material around his family complications, a relatable topic for any audience.  Dan knows that by doing comedy about his unique background, it makes it much less likely anyone will try to steal his material.  (His mother is Indian and his father is Japanese, and that international background has helped him connect with audiences overseas.)

Many (starving) comedians frown upon ethnic material, but Dan has found his niche – in addition to 300 million Americans, his audience includes over 1 billion Indians scattered around the world.

He found his big break when he opened for Robert Schimmel, then for Russell Peters, (who earns $10M a year according to Forbes Magazine). Riding Russell Peters's coattails, he was introduced to the international comedy market and has become a headliner of his own, performing in 47 US states, as well as over 20 countries. You can check out Dan’s act at http://www.comediandan.com.

If you’d like to see more of Dan, and his story, he’ll be joining me at my New York City workshop on Sunday, March 17th to answer questions on how to make a living as a comic and a speaker.

23 comments:

Marty said...

Let's face it - he's a niche market comic. His earnings have more to do with that than they do with being clean. It's a lot easier to make extraordinary money if you can fit yourself into one of those molds - Christian market, Jewish market and in his case the "Indian Invasion."

Angela Eren said...

Can anyone remove the above comment. It is just bad comdedy and bad karma to character assassinate someone who is not present. I will make my own decisions about someone elses ethics.

Mr Ed The person not the horse said...

Clean is the only material that I will write or do on stage but if I hit my thumb with a hammer I am not going to hold my thumb up and smile until it stops throbbing, which is one of the reasons I never use one when I'm on stage performing. A person does not have to be dirty to be funny.

Quinton F. said...

I just watched Dan's 8:54 act on his site that you can reach by the listed link. I must tell you in all honesty, I did not find him funny at all. I literally did not crack a smile! The material was bland and stereotypically average at best. It was also obvious that he took great care in editing in audience video cutaways of them laughing and clapping uproariously! There is no doubt in my mind, knowing the gear and art of production as I do, that he was manipulating the multi-camera footage to create the illusion that he and his material were funnier than they actually were. Really check out the responses of the attendees. They don't line up on the emotional scale following his delivery. They may even be what's called "found footage" from some of the other performers from that same night! While I cannot speak to his character, I will give him the benefit of the doubt that he's a decent guy. But a milk toast act like that is garnering him over $300,000 a year??? Seriously??? Are people out there truly entertained and satisfied by and with something so mundane and uninspired? These are just average jokes that really don't go anywhere. And unlike other comics who lay it out there, I really don't get his point of view. Who is he? -Besides his family of origin that he clearly illustrates in the simplest of stereotypical terms and age old jokes. What makes this guy tick? Yes, he's clean. But so are Rabbis and Clergy men in church. What is his message? Why should I give a fuck about him? And, finally, if this guy is TRULY and HONESTLY making the kind of living as advertised, people, get in line and get up on stage because I have no doubt you can do just as well and/or supercede this average working act. And, (this is unsolicited) if need be, buy Judy's Comedy Bible. Apply all her tools and techniques and the same damn thing can happen to you! I took Judy's class some years ago and found that it added to and fleshed out the comedy I was already putting up there. The next thing you know I found myself on the stages of the Improv, Laugh Factory & Comedy Store in LA. I don't pursue it anymore, as I derive my income primarily from voice acting and live appearances, but let me tell you something. Don't think for one minute that it hasn't crossed my mind to use this guy's palate and experience to draw upon and maybe venture out again on my own. If the simplest of jokes like that are going over? Seriously??? $300k??? Then wtf! Why not??? Now to read some more of his testimonials. I'm not going to be a player hater, just a discerning sponge. I will take what I like and leave the rest. And I hope you do, too. Cheers, Q

Quinton Flynn said...

I just watched Dan's 8:54 act on his site that you can reach by the listed link. I must tell you in all honesty, I did not find him funny at all. I literally did not crack a smile! The material was bland and stereotypically average at best. It was also obvious that he took great care in editing in audience video cutaways of them laughing and clapping uproariously! There is no doubt in my mind, knowing the gear and art of production as I do, that he was manipulating the multi-camera footage to create the illusion that he and his material were funnier than they actually were. Really check out the responses of the attendees. They don't line up on the emotional scale following his delivery. They may even be what's called "found footage" from some of the other performers from that same night! While I cannot speak to his character, I will give him the benefit of the doubt that he's a decent guy. But a milk toast act like that is garnering him over $300,000 a year??? Seriously??? Are people out there truly entertained and satisfied by and with something so mundane and uninspired? These are just average jokes that really don't go anywhere. And unlike other comics who lay it out there, I really don't get his point of view. Who is he? -Besides his family of origin that he clearly illustrates in the simplest of stereotypical terms and age old jokes. What makes this guy tick? Yes, he's clean. But so are Rabbis and Clergy men in church. What is his message? Why should I give a fuck about him? And, finally, if this guy is TRULY and HONESTLY making the kind of living as advertised, people, get in line and get up on stage because I have no doubt you can do just as well and/or supercede this average working act. And, (this is unsolicited) if need be, buy Judy's Comedy Bible. Apply all her tools and techniques and the same damn thing can happen to you! I took Judy's class some years ago and found that it added to and fleshed out the comedy I was already putting up there. The next thing you know I found myself on the stages of the Improv, Laugh Factory & Comedy Store in LA. I don't pursue it anymore, as I derive my income primarily from voice acting and live appearances, but let me tell you something. Don't think for one minute that it hasn't crossed my mind to use this guy's palate and experience to draw upon and maybe venture out again on my own. If the simplest of jokes like that are going over? Seriously??? $300k??? Then wtf! Why not??? Now to read some more of his testimonials. I'm not going to be a player hater, just a discerning sponge. I will take what I like and leave the rest. And I hope you do, too. Cheers, Q

Dan Nainan said...

Quinton,

I very much appreciate your feedback. I need to disagree and agree with you on your post.

I'm not the one who edited that video - that was a production company, and I posted it completely uncut and unaltered. In fact, I have a bit of a problem with the way it was edited, because when I make a joke about a particular ethnicity, you see a person of that ethnicity laughing, which I find to be a bit patronizing.

However, I can tell you in all honestly that the laughter you are hearing is most definitely genuine, and that that was one of the best shows I have ever done in terms of the roars of laughter and applause. However, bear in mind that when you're in front of 4000 people, the laughs are much greater than when you're in a comedy club, because laughter causes laughter - there is a physics to laughter. With more people, the laughter increases exponentially. A theater setting is optimal, because people are fully focused on the performance, not buying drinks, eating dinner, etc.

Where I agree with you is this - I would never claim to be a great, groundbreaking comic. The fact that I've been able to earn what I earn, and to fly around the world on somebody else's dime, with what many comedians would consider a mediocre act, should tell you something, and apparently it has. Basically, that you can do it too.

The reason I've been successful is that I work clean, I have found a niche, I apply elementary business principles to comedy that far funnier comics have no idea about, and I know how to use technology to my advantage (having been a senior Intel engineer).

In addition, I think comedians tend to worry too much about what other comedians think, and I think that's a big mistake. For me, the most important judge of my act is not other comedians, but the audience. After all, they're the ones paying my salary, not other comedians. If at some point my income is derived from other comedians, then maybe I'll change my material to please them more.

Despite the fact that Mr. Estrada thinks I'm a jerk, I spend a great deal of my time helping other comedians to reach their full potential. I hope that you reading about me has motivated you into getting back into doing comedy, because it truly is the greatest job in the world.

By the way, can somebody explain these Viagra Cialis posts? :-)

Quinton said...

Dear Dan,

Thank you for your feedback. It was only in the light of day that I realized the error of my ways, trying desperately to remove my posts. They do nothing to inspire. You do!

I checked out the rest of your site and was blown away by your impressions and impressed with your availability and openness to others. It's obvious you've got a lot of love to give that is reflected in both your spoken and written word. Thank you for that.

I am humbled by your words, your conviction, your success and your talent. If you or your web master would please remove my posts I would be eternally grateful, as there doesn't seem to be an option for me to do it on my end.

Thank you for your honesty and encouragement. I will take it to heart. And I apologize for anything I may have said that was hurtful.

Sincerely,

Quinton Flynn

Dan Nainan said...

Quinton:

I am not the webmaster here, but honestly, there is no need to take your post down. This is good, honest, critical feedback without a personal attack from you...if anything, you were constructively criticizing my comedy, not me, and quite honestly, I feel that there is some truth in what you are saying. I have some comedian friends who tell me that if I talked about on stage what I talk about off stage, that I could be the next Bill Hicks, but there are some serious risks to that approach. I'm not trying to imply that I'm anywhere near the comedian that Richard Pryor was, but for years, he did stuff to please the audience, before one day saying on stage "I can't do this anymore" and eventually doing what was true to his heart.

I just checked out your website and your IMDb, and I am truly flabbergasted by how much you're working in voiceover, which is an area I've always aspired to get into. I'm astounded by what you're doing, not just in voiceover, but live performance as well. I hope this will motivate you to get back into doing standup.

I am truly happy that you posted here, because otherwise, I would never have known about you. I assume you're in Los Angeles – I hope we can get together and mindshare next time I'm out there in April. Feel free to contact me anytime – my information is on my site – and this goes for anyone else reading this who wants to talk about standup (or anything else).

Richard Estrada said...

My earlier comments were taken down by the webmaster. So sad. I don't have any personal vendettas against Dan. I'm simple reporting what I've heard.

Paul Singh said...

Dan has been my comedy mentor for over a decade. I feel that anyone can get a cheap laugh by using profanity, we see it all day long, even on network TV where half of the comedian's jokes are bleeped out due to language. It is refreshing to know that clean comics like Dan can be among the highest paid unknown comics in this business. In fact, Dan not only works clean, he also lives clean. If you were to ask me, what is Dan's religion? I would have to say his religion is his health. Dan is one of the very few comics who does not smoke, drink or do any kind of drugs. I hate to say this, but when I work with Dan, I am put on a strict 1 drink maximum. I wish Dan lots of success and happiness. We should all be proud of him

Michael Schaefer said...

Richard Estrada, speaking of reporting what you heard, I must say, I did hear a nasty rumor from other comedians that you are a registered sex offender, and I Googled "National Sex Offender Registry" and found you by typing in your name.

Tsk tsk, sexually assaulting a minor under the age of 14?I bet that gives you a lot of interesting material to do in your comedy!

Darryl Steiss said...

Hey Richard, I took a look at your tour schedule, now I know why you never do any shows outside of Dallas Ft. Worth Metro, you're probation officer/ankle bracelet won't allow you to leave the area LOL!!!

Maybe you should change your website from

EstradaComedy.com

to

EstraddleComedy.com - I just checked, and that website is available!

Mary Palmano said...

Michael, I thought you were making this up, so I looked in the national sex offender registry database for myself. You were right. How revolting! Lord have mercy.

Darryl Steiss said...

Oh boy! (pardon the pun). I looked it up as well, and its definately him!

Hey Richard, stay away from schools, playgrounds, Toys R Us and Chuck E. Cheese! 2000 feet is the minimum!

Good luck finding a job, although the Catholic church may have a position for you (pardon the pun again!)

Hahahahahaha!

Michael Schaefer said...

What's wrong, Dick - I mean Richard, why so quiet all of a sudden? Is it because you've been, pardon the term, exposed?

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Dave said...

I'll be honest, I haven't had a chance to check out Dan's comedy videos, although anyone opening for Russell Peters must be pretty funny.

His response to Quinton, though, was a model of diplomacy and told me all I need to know about why he made it. Cream rises to the top.

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