Sammy Obeid is one of many who are out there representing the comedy greatness that comes out of the San Francisco Bay Area. The Oakland-born UC Berkeley graduate did well for himself on America's Got Talent and will make his late night debut later this month on Conan. Before that, he is embarking on a journey of performing 1000 days of comedy. His forthcoming performance on Thursday September 19 at Cobb's Comedy Club will not only be a homecoming for him, but will mark his 999th performance since he started this ambitious. From there, he will go on to Los Angeles and then come back to San Francisco's Punchline for performance #1001 for good measure. We had a chance to ask him a couple of questions...and he answered.
When did you realize that you wanted to be a stand-up comic?
I'm still not sure if I've had that realization yet. I realized that I was funny in elementary school when kids would tell me so. I realized that I should try stand up when a college professor told me I was a natural. I realized I enjoyed it the first time I landed a joke a few weeks in. I realized I can make a career out of it when I got my 5th paycheck (the first 4 were very small). But I'm still not sure if I really want to be a stand up comic...I mean, as in forever. I am one now.
When was your first stand-up gig and how did it go?
My first gig ever was in the back of a Vietnamese restaurant in Oakland. This was March 7, 2003. I was 19 year old. I bombed horrifically. My whole family and friends were there. My sister loved it. My dad said I definitely had their attention. My mom had no comment. I quit comedy right away, and then came back over 4 years later.
What is a place that you have to go every time you come back to the Bay Area?
Other than my parents house — because that's where I stay — I love to go to SF and either get a burrito in the Mission or Burmese food in the inner Richmond.
What is the biggest difference between Oakland and San Francisco?
Oakland and SF have a lot of the same stuff...just in different proportions. Hippies, crime, Chinatown, etc. The biggest difference is there is less kale in Oakland (by about 7,348 lbs).
Were you an avid supporter of the hyphy movement?
I was not a supporter, but an observer, and a judge. I gave it low marks.
What was your most "progressive" moment while you attended UC Berkeley?
I gave a lecture on why people should meditate in my freshmen class. Even my fellow Berkeley students were like, "Okay dude."
Most memorable moment as a comedian as of today?
The time I turned around a crowd of 3,000 people booing at me in St. Louis and got a standing O. This was on America's Got Talent last year, and Howard Stern told me I chose the right career.
What are five words to describe your comedy act?
Smart, stupid, loving, caressing, tingling
What is your favorite movie that takes place in San Francisco?
What is your favorite TV show that takes place in San Francisco?
I only know of Full House, and even if I knew of others, it'd still be Full House
What made you want to do this "1000 Days of Comedy" project?
I just wanted to get better. So I set out to perform every night. Then it became a thing and I just decided to go to 1000.
How much sleep have you gotten since you started the project?
I probably have averaged about 5 hours a night, which is not bad if you compare to how much they get in China.
What are you going to do to celebrate the 1000th day?
I'm headlining Largo in LA this Friday, September 20th at 8:30 p.m., and then doing 1001 at the SF Punch Line at 11:30 p.m. Saturday September 21st...and then I sleep.