025: Stand-up Comedy, With Joel Byars
Weekly Inspiration: “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”
Michelle is finding inspiration in the pages of “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari. This mind-shattering book traces the evolution of our cultural nuances to the origins of Homo sapiens, revealing the birth of many of our foundational norms and beliefs. So much of our culture spawned from a series of chance happenings that developed over thousands of years leading us to ponder what our world would look like had the circumstances been different. Profound questions lie at the intersection of science and art and “Sapiens” answers them beautifully. A storyteller at heart, Michelle finds the story of humankind one of the most riveting of them all.
All-American (and all-hilarious) comedy with Joel Byars
Joel Byars suggests “Comedy is a language you learn on stage,” and if that’s the case, he’s fluent. From the moment he stole the microphone during a church play, Joel knew laughter would be essential in his life. A seasoned stand-up comedian, teacher, podcast host, and author, Joel chats with Michelle about his passion for comedy and the path he’s taken to pursue it full-time. We get insight from their conversation about the power of social accountability and the tools Joel utilizes to sustain his creative output.
Michelle and Joel also dive into the fear element often associated with performing stand-up. While he endured a few rough gigs early in his career, Joel now embraces any silence from the audience as artistic negative space within his craft. The lessons he’s acquired through his career can be found in his book, The Comics Playbook, or as part of the curriculum in his classes at Highwire Comedy Co. where comedy students directly benefit from Joel’s expertise. Joel aims to become an influential voice in the comedy culture and through what we learn in his discussion with Michelle, he’s well on his way.
About Joel Byars, stand-up comedian, teacher, author and podcaster
For Joel, stand up comedy is an outlet to examine the fine print of life and he will continue to provide authentic entertainment until deemed illegal.
Growing up in a house of educators, Joel has combined his passion for educating and entertaining by hosting his award winning Hot Breath! Podcast, teaching a weekly comedy class and co-authoring “The Comic’s Playbook” with MIT alum Dr. Robert Joseph. All of Joel’s professional endeavors are designed to help people discover their creative process.
Joel’s inspirational story has been featured in publications ranging from Atlanta Magazine, Creative Loafing’s “Best of Atlanta,” ATL Eats and being selected as “Morning Person of the Day” by international creative community Creative Mornings. Some of his accolades also include writing for Comedy Central’s Roast Battle at the prestigious Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal and being crowned the National Champion of Search For The One Comedy Competition.
This success has only driven Joel to keep challenging the limits of himself and comedy to empower others.