We live in a world where most people’s stress levels are high and they find themselves in the middle of chaos. Some battle depression resulting from loss of a loved one, a job, or are just clinically depressed. Laughter is the cure to ease our hearts and lessen stress levels and sad feelings. Today I am speaking with a man that has brought laughter to millions and is an inspiration to us all: the very talented Emmy award winning comedian, actor, writer, TV producer, author and speaker, Mr. Craig Shoemaker.
Read on to benefit from his wisdom:
Hello Craig congratulations on your new show Comedy Kitchen. Can you tell me about the shows concept?
Hi David, thank you for reaching out. Comedy Kitchen is a role reversal competition reality series which features celebrity chefs taking a comedy stage vs. famous comedians making a dish in the kitchen, all to be judged by celebrity judges.
What inspired you to develop Comedy Kitchen?
The show was spawned three years ago when I nudged Tony Luke, my long-time friend from Philadelphia, to try his hand at stand-up comedy. Tony is a well-known restaurateur out of my old home town of Philadelphia, and is an accomplished actor, musician and host as well. The original idea was to create a show around Tony mentoring me in cooking, while I trained Tony to become a stand up comedian. We made a sizzle reel called “Funny Food” but then it blossomed into something much bigger by including guest celebrities each week for a competitive challenge.
What process do you use to develop your comedy material?
The process always begins with something that happens in real life that sparks a comedy instinct within me to develop material around the inciting incident. What begins as a thought, turns into a one-liner, then to a bit and then into a hunk.
Who are some of the people who have influenced your comedy?
Believe it or not my biggest influence has always been Bruce Springstein. Many years ago I saw him in concert, and although he is performing music, I want to emulate what he does on the stage- tells the truth, his connection with the audience, shares his personal journey and brings it from the heels with passion and conviction.
How do you handle moments of dead silence after delivering a joke to the crowd?
Fortunately, my fast Philly talk doesn’t prompt many silent moments. If something doesn’t go the way I had hoped I would usually comment on it in a self-deprecating way.
You wear many hats-you are a comedian, TV & film producer, actor, author, writer and a inspirational speaker. Describe what each role has taught you and which one resonates the most with you?
Stand up teaches me to take laughter seriously. Producing allows collaboration with others, which for a solo comedian is refreshing. Acting allows me to work another creative muscle and deliver someone else’s words. The written word gives me a chance to be more introspective than performing in front of a live audience. Without the noise I am free to respond to the authentic voice within me. There has been a lot of wisdom gained from a life of struggle and seemingly impossible odds, and it is my wish to share with others the triumphs and solutions found in the process. Helping others in whatever form it takes is at the core of my being, inspirational speaking gives me the platform to do just that.
What advice do you have for people struggling to make it in the entertainment industry?
I mentor a number of people in various fields. The common thread I try to impress upon them is to do whatever they can to discover the person they truly are.
What has been the most rewarding part of your career?
Ever since I was a boy I’ve always loved to host the party. Projects like Comedy Kitchen provide an opportunity to bring cast and crew together with the common goal of making something wonderful, while having a lot of laughs doing it. This show is one of the most rewarding artistic efforts I’ve ever been a part of. Not only do I get to co-host with one of my best friends, but I got to work with a number of people from my posse of amigos. I made a movie called “Totally Baked” years ago, directed by Lee Abbott and I brought Lee in to be the show runner for Comedy Kitchen. It was filmed at my dear friend Mike Davis’s Davis Estates Winery in Napa and it was two weeks of pure laughter. Now, if this sells to one of the big networks, I am hoping to laugh all the way to the bank! LOL
If you weren’t in entertainment what other industry would you see yourself in?
The original plan was law school, and many will tell you that my overbearing , need to be right, passionate energy would certainly make for a good attorney! I worked two years during college at a prestigious Philadelphia law firm. Not a lot of humor in the high rise, so I bagged that dream for a try at the comedy stage. Of course, this didn’t sit well with Mom, but considering a decades-long career at the top of the food chain, it looks like I didn’t have to have “something to fall back on.”
If you could go back in time what would you tell your teenage self?
I would tell myself to follow the path that resonates in my soul and not be led by the illusionary, often delusionary, goals of others.
Thank you for your time Craig. What are your words of wisdom to all the readers?
Take your time, pause for the cause of hearing from that organic sense of self. Let go of the fears, doubts and worries and let your light shine.
More information about Craig Shoemaker
Photos: Courtesy of Craig Shoemaker