For the past 997 days, comedian Sammy Obeid has been criss-crossing the nation performing in clubs, colleges, bars and more— all in an effort to reach day 1,000 of consecutive sets. Tonight will be different, sort of. He’ll perform number 998 on Conan; it’ll be for an audience of millions— between the live airing on TBS and tomorrow morning’s views on TeamCoco.com. After day 1,000, Obeid will hold a record, albeit, not in the Guinness Book style of records.
“It’s very unofficial,” Obeid told Laughspin recently. “I was originally going to just do 365 days and Guinness would’ve had a guy living with me. It would’ve cost me $50,000 for a year.”
While Conan O’Brien is well known in the comedy world for giving talented up-and-coming comedians their late night television debuts, you can’t deny that Obeid’s case is novel one. He’s a competent comedian for sure, but lacks the traditional “buzz” most comics garner before they step foot in a national talk show’s studio. Having never heard of Obeid before chatter of the 1,000-day record surfaced, I asked the 29-year-old Bay Area native what he thought of those who might perceive what he’s doing as a gimmick and ultimately the reason he landed on Conan.
“Not only do I not care, I’m perfectly aware of that,” he says. “I have enough confidence to know I deserve to be on Conan regardless. I don’t feel bad about it. I also know, in Hollywood it’s almost like you have to do something crazy to get noticed. It’s not like I’m cheating. I’m just working harder. I’ve been passed on numerous time. I’ve been in Hollywood for two years and doing what I feel is really well. In two years I was just toiling. It was either people didn’t like my comedy or that I wasn’t good enough or I had bad luck. So I had to do this.”
The former Math major turned down high-paying jobs at Google and Microsoft after graduation so that he could begin working as a stand-up comedian. His love of numbers, however, has not waned six years into comedy. His obsession has actually helped him accomplish the 1,000-days-of-comedy project. Want proof? Below, is part of the spreadsheet (click to expand) he uses to self-monitor his progress.
Obeid has been documenting his experiences at sammyko.com and is already working on a documentary and a book about his experiences. “The book will be 10 chapters, each of which will cover 100 days. It’ll be about things I’ve learned doing comedy and about my personal life. For instance, chapter four will be about my experience on America’s Got Talent. It was grueling. But it was a learning experience. It’ll include the story about how Howard Stern reacted to my performance. He was my man. Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne were skeptical of me.”
Today, I checked in with Sammy to see how he’s feeling a few hours before the 4 pm Conan taping. “I’m feeling great and ready to do this!”