We Can't Get Enough Of This Comedian!
Standing in front of a room full of people who demand laughter can be a daunting task to take on. Making a career out of it? That's downright courageous. When we visited a Los Angeles comedy club and heard Chinedu Unaka perform, we knew he had the type of daring creativity we celebrate here at BUNCH. He told stories of his upbringing in an immigrant household and his pursuit of comedian superstardom all while keeping the audience in stitches. We caught up with him to talk all things comedy and learn how he's building an enviable career as a funnyman.
Top 3 Takeaways on Building a Career As A Comedian:
- Attention to detail
- Saying "no" can be a good thing.
Who is Chinedu Unaka?
I’m a stand up comedian. I’m also a man that loves almond butter, raisin bread and sports. I’m one of five from Nigerian parents; one who secretly wishes I were a doctor and the other who openly wishes I were a doctor.
When did you decide to pursue your current career path?
I was 19 in college my first time on stage doing comedy. Before then I was really into poetry and writing 16 bars of the hottest fire. It wasn’t a career decision yet, but I knew I loved doing it and that was enough. The career aspect of it came naturally soon after I graduated; I was just concerned with getting good.
How did you go from idea to execution?
The biggest thing for me was stage time, still is. I think if you focus on developing as much material as you can, people begin to take notice. I would perform everywhere and anywhere as often as I could. I’ve done shows at churches, weddings, parks, comedy clubs, colleges, retirement homes, benefits, backyards, etc. I can be a little pickier now, but I’m always down to work some new jokes out. Other than that make friends and be open to any and all advice, but only keep what makes sense to you.
Do you have a mentor?
Besides my dad, I would say no, but Dave Chappelle is definitely a comedian I look up to – among others: Pryor, Rock, Burr, Carlin, etc.
My first time meeting Chappelle he bumped me at The Comedy Store in the Belly room and did two hours of material/riffing. One of the coolest nights of stand up comedy I ever had, he brought a band on stage too lol. The most recent time we were chatting at The Laugh Factory briefly discussing terrorism, comedy and news channels before he went on stage and killed it. He’s super chill and down to Earth.
I think I gravitate towards those comics, because they can talk/joke about touchy topics in way that intelligent people can appreciate, but everyone can love and find something funny about it. I strive for that in my comedy. Not necessarily to argue a side all the time, but to explore and keep the conversation going.
How does the city you live in influence your creativity?
I think growing up and working around Los Angeles has given me the ability to relate to a large variety of people. I grew up in a very diverse environment and with friends from all cultures. I was a black boy with a lot of black friends, but because my parents are foreign I related to what a lot of my Asian-American, Mexican-American, etc. friends was going through at home just as much.
Has rejection ever affected your creative process?
Sure. All things good and bad can be used for material, but also both success and failure makes me want to work harder.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue the same career as you?
If you start for any reason [other than] the love for it, stop. Besides, that enjoy the process and don’t steal jokes.
What has been the pit and peak of your week so far? (a low and a high moment)
It’s only Monday, but let’s see…Peak: The Starbucks drive thru line I was in went more swiftly then I imagined or could even hope for. Pit: I was late to a podcast taping, oops.
In your words, what does it mean to be a “creative”?
To be original, to be true and/or to walk around with a feathered fedora.
Finish this sentence:
I want people to remember me as: a great comedian, man and as a person that gave back when he could.
If I only had 24 more hours to live, I would: I would first cry a little bit for 10 minutes, then hit the bank for a big withdrawal, movie hop, get a large smoothie at Jamba Juice, perform at a comedy club and then turn up with some people that I love.
If I had to choose a theme song to represent me it would be: Lupe Fiasco – Kick Push
For more on Chinedu Unaka,visit his website here: chineducomedy.com