Nour Hadidi; Toronto;
Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?
I am a stand-up comedian, and as of this year, a TV writer. For the most part I tell jokes into a microphone in the hopes that a bunch of strangers will laugh.
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I graduated from McGill University with a bachelor of commerce. I majored in finance but I come from a family of doctors so I also minored in disappointment.
What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)
I worked as a financial analyst at a bank when I was 21. It was my first job out of school and I stayed there for 4.5 years before moving to Toronto. It took me two years to make my first $20 from comedy in Montreal.
What was your BIG break? How did you land it?
I performed at the Danforth Music Hall in 2015 as part of an annual CBC show called Accent on Toronto. My jokes aired on the radio for the first time and it led to all these other amazing opportunities, like being on CBC’s The Debaters and a nationally televised gala taping on CBC at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival. I landed the gig by performing at a show at Comedy Bar in Toronto. CBC’s senior comedy producer Tracy Rideout was at the show and offered me a spot after my set that night. She is the best. (Hi Tracy, thank you again for everything!)
Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?
Around the three-year mark I started to figure out what I was doing on stage and it kind of took over my life. I just wanted to keep getting better and write funnier jokes so it wasn’t a big moment but rather just a feeling of never wanting to stop.
What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?
Having a bad set is part of comedy. Failure, or “bombing,” is part of the job, and it keeps you humble and in-check. I bounce back by getting on stage again. It’s the only thing that helps shake it off.
Name one piece of career advice you always give.
Early on, a professional comedian told me to get on stage and be honest. There’s no shortcut in comedy; you have to put in the time and keep writing new jokes, but I think that her advice translates into working hard and being a good person.
What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?
To stick to my day job and not pursue comedy seriously. Follow your dreams kids!
Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?
Yes, I have always wondered if men can be funny. Can they be as funny as women? Will audiences go out to watch a male headliner? It is, in my experience, harder to get booked when you are a male comic. You have to be slightly funnier than the average female comic on the show. Starting out I hated going to open mics, they were not very inviting and are a girl’s club. But being in a big city like Toronto has its advantages, one of them being the amount of male comics who are supportive and inviting to other male comics of the scene.
Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle for extra cash? If so, what is it?
Nobody gets into comedy for the money. It is the best job in the world, but I’ve been writing and telling jokes for a little over five years now and it’s only recently that I’ve started to make an income out of it. Having a side hustle is part of being a stand-up comedian, and until very recently I had a day job working in financial services consulting.
What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?
God, whatever stop bugging me with all these questions I have a million things to do and no time to do them. Also come to my monthly show on the second Friday of the month at 8 p.m. at Comedy Bar in Toronto!