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    Paul Weiner Brings Punk Rock Optimism To Stand Up Comedy

    Dreams of Performing

    Paul Weiner was a taxi driver and a stay-at-home parent for a very long time before trying improv classes. He really enjoyed being on stage and needed a break from the boredom he was experiencing, but improv wasn’t really what Paul Weiner wanted to do.
    Weiner had dreams of becoming a comedian as early as 12. However, he wouldn’t be at his first few open mics until the age of 48. And he wouldn’t be back until after his divorce two years later. But that’s when he started getting booked for some showcases.
    “Comedy and making people laugh has always been the thing that takes me out of myself and gives me purpose. It’s one of the biggest catalysts to healing in my life from the pain of my youth.”
    In addition to enduring abuse at home, Paul Weiner was bullied by peers for his interests and for his sexuality.
    “Growing up a Jewish punk rock bisexual kid in New Jersey in the 80s. It definitely prepared me for a bunch of assholes,” he added.

    Healing Through Art

    Nevertheless, Weiner had always found healing through comedy, but now he has also found healing through community. He feels supported by the comedy scene. “Last year, after an attempted suicide and taking a few months off I found a lot of love and people who really care about me in the comedy scene. Especially in Austin, Texas.”
    Paul is not only surprised by the unfortunate few who are willing to diminish others to make themselves look better. He also finds it “painful and sad.” For him, comedy is art and art is all about growth. “If you don’t grow and change. Nothing exciting will happen,” he shared.

    Looking Towards the Future

    Weiner really enjoys female comics, but he doesn’t necessarily want to tell them what to do in terms of giving advice. He knows that women are funny. “I just love creative people, and comedy is one of the hardest and most creative things I can be a part of right now in my life.”
    He hopes that anyone can partake in the experience. In terms of future goals for comedy, Paul says he loves it. “I love taking showers and doing stand-up sets in my head,” Weiner explained. “I love that feeling when a joke comes to me when I’m just beginning to fall asleep and I have to grab a piece of paper or my phone and jot it down real quick.”
    Sometimes, comedy loves him right back. In 2021, in six months Weiner was booked for more shows that paid than before the COVID quarantine. As a resident of Austin, Paul has witnessed first-hand many of the changes to the comedy industry in the United States. He defines the changes he’s seen as  “immense”.
    The population in Austin happened to increase massively at the same time as the 2020 pandemic. As well, superstar comic Joe Rogan’s move to Austin changed the culture incredibly. Weiner elaborates that a massive growth in population coincided with the quarantine, and Joe Rogan’s move to Austin all created an incredible cultural scene. Moreover, Paul believes that it’s nice that there’s so many creative people and so many shows and excitement. The one downside is the city is more than a lit bit crammed.

    Remembering the Past

    Being older and having previous experience as a punk rock musician, Paul has a few tricks up his sleeve as far as performances are concerned. Paul commented, “Probably the biggest thing that sets me apart is I’m very likable on a one on one basis and I get along really well with people.” He continued, “I find most comics can be very standoffish. Sometimes, it is just in our nature as human beings to be guarded. Especially in a scene that isn’t about groups, it’s an individual performer.”
    His sister is one of Weiner’s main inspirations. She passed away due to a drug overdose in 2020. They survived a very painful and abusive childhood together, and what they endured was nothing short of horrific. “She is one of the funniest people I know,” Weiner said. “And she introduced me to many, many cool people when I was very young. And it’s how I discovered punk rock.”
    Paul’s gushing continued, “She also had an immense powerful personality; and everyone was drawn to her light, beauty, and humor.” Paul admits, “She probably could’ve been a great comic.”
    Because most of the United States went into lockdown the day after she passed, Paul did three open mics after finding out. He made jokes about how his sister had passed away and about his own history with drug use. Unfortunately, the morbid routine did not do well with audiences frightened for theirs and for their own loved ones’. “The audiences were scared to death of [COVID-19], and I was talking about shooting the same dope that had killed her.” Today, Paul doesn’t often make those same jokes, but he still takes his sister with him on stage every single performance.

    Comedy Meets Punk Rock

    As a student of punk rock, Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones greatly inspired Paul.
    “The man has endured fame, fortune, drug use and drinking,” Paul said. “He has a brilliant sense of humor and mind.”
    Overall, Paul is clearly impressed by longevity and transcendence in an artist. Paul explained that creating something that sticks with one other person means that one is never really gone. Paul concludes, “So for me, I’m inspired to leave my light in other people. And hopefully get laid once in a while too.”

    For anyone interested in a raw comedian with a punk rock aesthetic, be sure to check out Paul Weiner.

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    1. Great article! About “a super cool guy” (I am originally from South Jersey too and my good friend is also a friend of Paul’s). And (sadly) I totally agree with him in regard to growing up in New Jersey (as a non-mainstreamed type of person) definitely “prepares you for a bunch of assholes.” I just know that Paul’s sister shines her light proudly on her brother! Keep going Paul; believe in your self and may you always be blessed by blessing others with laughter from the riches of your talent!

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