As a writer, I’ve interviewed well known people for feature stories. I’m going to be sharing a series of “how they made it” stories, as there is much to learn from those who have pursued their passions and made it to the top.
My interview with Jeff was for an article to be a featured in a Christian magazine in Atlanta. My reason for pursuing him was to demonstrate that Christians can still have fun while laughing at life and making fun of just about everything. He’s an authentic guy, and to no surprise came to our interview with iced tea. “I hope you don’t mind, I came with my sweet tea.” We laughed about the true definition of southern iced tea.
His start in comedy came while he was working for IBM, following in his father’s footsteps. Because he was funny, he was dared by some buddies to go to Ametuer Night at the Punch Line in Atlanta. He went, watched, then decided to try it. “I went home and just wrote about my family. We are funny.” After his first performance, he knew comedy was what he wanted to do. He was young and single at the time, and decided to go for it. “I’m going to become a comedian.” He told his mom. She thought he was crazy. “What are you on drugs Jeff, we can get you help.” Five years later he was on the Johnny Carson show.
One of the reasons for his success is his southern accent and charm, though he had to fight to keep what would become his identity as a comedian. One expert said to him, “Look Jeff, we don’t want to hurt your feelings, but you need to take some voice lessons to lose that stupid accent.” Jeff didn’t agree. “I’m proud of my accent, my boots and my truck! That is when I wrote 10 ways to tell if you are a redneck.” You likely know the rest of that success story.
Jeff started by going out on a limb and pursuing what he wanted to do. He left behind a solid career path established by his father, and risked it all do develop a skill and a talent as he became one of the top selling comedians of all time. He had obstacles, much to overcome, but became a tremendous success story and household name. All the while refusing to give up his southern identity which has become his calling card as a professional entertainer and television star.
Like Jeff, we all have to measure risks associated with pursuing possibilities. One thing we can learn from his story, is the opportunity did not come to him, he went to it. We have to go after what we want, holding on dearly to who we are at our core at the same time.
Pursuing Possibilities! Today’s pick of the day.