In 2010, Sammy Obeid almost gave up on comedy. He had been doing stand-up for a few years, performing four or five nights a week, but felt like he’d gotten complacent: he was booking fewer gigs and could tell his material and delivery were suffering. All this on top of a run of bad luck — a relationship ending, a car breaking down, his mother getting sick — and getting knocked out of a San Francisco comedy competition in the preliminaries. It seemed like it might be time to throw in the towel.
But, instead of giving up, Obeid went in pretty much the exact opposite direction: when another spot opened up in that competition and he got a second chance, he decided to devote himself to turning things around.
“I was, like, I’m not going to quit comedy, but if I’m going to do it, I’m going to work really hard,” he says. “I decided I was going to move to L.A. and perform every night until I burned out. And I kept going and kept going. Then I decided it was going to be 1,000.”
And now, years later, he’s almost done it: on Sept. 20, when he performs at Largo in L.A., Sammy Obeid will be doing his thousandth night of stand-up in a row.
It hasn’t all been easy — just recently, during a college tour, he lost his ID on the first day and had to bum rides for the rest of the trip — but he says he doesn’t regret the decision. For one thing, he says he noticed an improvement in his comedy after just a few weeks; he produced about two hours of new material during those years and polished much of his old stuff. The streak also seemed to turn around his once-sagging fortunes: his mother’s health improved and he appeared on America’s Got Talent.
“It’s one thing I’m going to be able to look back on and say, wow, I really did that,” he says. “I committed to that and I did it. Not only has it made me stronger as a comedian but it kind of let people know who I am.”
Not that he thinks it’s a great way for any budding comedians to jumpstart their careers: “What I did was a little obsessive-compulsive and very taxing. The mechanics of it, getting the same adrenaline rush every night, the pressure of that, it was very stressful,” he says.” I don’t regret it but I wouldn’t recommend anyone do it. There’s other ways to get good.”
When the experiment is done, Obeid won’t have much time to rest, as he has another college tour planned for October. And even before that, he has another show on Sept. 21, in San Francisco. After all, why stop at 1,000 when you can make it 1,001?