Dan Nainan: Half Japanese, Half Indian, Fully Funny!
He’s a clean, green, comedy machine! And we’re not talking about a vacuum that tells knock-knock jokes...(whew! comedy is hard...I’ll leave it to the comedian from here on out). His name is Dan Nainan and he’s a clean comedian. No dirty jokes, no cursing, just good, clean fun. And this former Intel man is a self-proclaimed techie with the environment in mind.
Almost every comedian has to travel for work and with travel comes a lot of environmental issues. Flying is necessary, as are hotel stays, but Dan does his best to keep mother nature in mind by unplugging everything in his hotel room, not having his sheets unnecessarily changed daily, and he even once went so far as to avoid the offer of a private jet because the guilt over all those fossil fuels used up only for him was too much. And just how often does a former Intel man and current comedian have the opportunity to decline a ride on a private jet? Being clean affords Dan some unique opportunities, one being corporate comedy.
Some comedians view corporate comedians as sell-outs, believing that making money for telling your jokes makes you somehow lesser. Dan wants to earn a living doing what he loves and if this means being called a sell-out by other comedians who are content to earn $25 a night in a small comedy club in the Village, he’s just fine with that. Dan has performed at charity galas, the Democratic Convention in Denver, inauguration events, and recently even President Obama’s sister told him she loved his act. So how does a man who works for a major technology company leave his job in the corporate world and become a comedian? Dan says he does so slowly.
When Dan was younger, he would often do voices and make prank calls. His father would suggest to him that he try acting. But he always knew he could make people laugh, and while he was too shy to be the class clown, on those rare occasions when he would blurt out a joke or two he would have his entire class in hysterics.
“When Dan was younger, he would often do voices and make prank calls. His father would suggest to him that he try acting. But he always knew he could make people laugh…”
The impetus for him to follow his dream of being a comedian came at the hands of an employee on his team at Intel, Al. Al was a part-time comedian and told Dan to just begin writing down jokes as they came to him. So for two years Dan kept a computer log of the jokes that popped into his head. Then he realized that after two years he had quite a bit of material but didn’t know where to go from there. It seemed he had two choices in the comedy world: take a comedy class, or start going to open mics and testing his skills and jokes on a live audience. Dan chose the class. Open mics seemed to leave too much to chance. He noticed that many comedians who may have possessed a lot of talent, but who didn’t succeed at open mics because they simply didn’t know small things (like how to hold the microphone), often gave up after a few rookie mistakes unrelated to their actual material. A microphone at the waist does not project well, and if the audience can’t hear the jokes then they can’t laugh at them. Dan credits his current success to the fact that he did take a class and was able to learn the nuances necessary and hone his craft before taking to the stage.
Dan’s first performance took place at the end of his comedy class and the audience consisted mainly of family and friends of the students, so it was a very supportive way to begin his new career. He got huge laughs and felt great, and in hindsight realizes that anything that you do for the first time that is a positive experience you tend to keep doing. So Dan kept at comedy. Today he may not be a household name like Larry the Cable Guy or Chris Rock, but he is a success in his own right. He earns a great living as a corporate comedian and is even taking his father’s advice and dabbling in acting. Dan will be appearing in an upcoming movie with Dev Patel (the star of Slumdog Millionaire) in an M. Night Shyamalan film. Dan will also be going a bit back to his computer roots and appearing in a national Mac ad, so stay tuned to see if he’s the Mac or the PC!
Clearly, Dan’s story has a happy ending...man has dream, man follows dream, man lives happily ever after. But it is never that simple. Dan says many young fans come up to him and tell him that they have a dream of doing something creative that’s their passion, but their parents have a different dream for them and they want to know what to do. He tells them that they are right to follow their dream. And their parents are right to want them to earn a living. His advice is to do the 9 to 5, as there are always nights and weekends. Turn off the TV, stay home from the bars or clubs and spend those precious hours honing your craft, whatever that may be. He says it takes years of focus and practicing, but if it is truly your passion then you will always have the time to devote to it after you earn your living. And then, who knows...you may be able to earn a living doing what you love. Dan has, and he says there is nothing more fulfilling. “The job market will always be there, but if you have the talent there’s not always going to be the opportunity.” Good advice from someone who knows.
Thank you Dan, for sharing your Story with us.
Our Stories and pictures are the sole copyright of their Authors and may not be reprinted or used without their permission.
(c) 2009 by Cara Moorehead and Story of My Life®