First off thank you for taking the time to get involved in this interview for our readers.
I first saw you when you MC’d the Chiang Mai SEO conference and we have briefly spoken at that event. I was super impressed, you’re a funny and entertaining guy, the perfect antidote for presenting what can be quite a dry and nerdy subject!
Since checking out some clips of your stand-up online I found out you also produce very unique art that’s been used in everything from paintings to toilets.
But that’s not all, just last week I discovered you actually have a book too!
So, I am very excited to find out more about your story, a guy who also has a super cool first name too. Thanks again Adam – let’s jump straight into this with my first question.
1. Can you give us a little background information and your back story? For example, where you’re from, where you grew up.
I’m from Syracuse, NY but left when high school and I “broke up”. I have since lived in NYC, Seoul, Brooklyn, Ho Chi Minh City, and have spent the last two years on the run around the world. In 2010 I moved to Seoul, Korea for a teaching position where I also rather quickly became a beatboxer for a hip-hop improv comedy group called the Space Rhyme Continuum. In July of that year, we were the final act in the Stand-Up Seoul monthly comedy show that lead me to start wiring jokes and performing stand up comedy.
After three years in Seoul, I moved back to Brooklyn to pursue comedy and painting full-time. I would create and sell artwork on the street and at night do stand up. It didn’t work out great. While I was on stage a lot and began producing several shows, the painting wasn’t paying the bills as I hoped it would. Off to Saigon!
I took another teaching position while producing comedy shows, art exhibitions, and attending Dynamite Circle conferences. After figuring out ways to perform stand up, paint murals, and work on my books, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a network that allows me to travel and work and perform at events such as Chiang Mai SEO and DCBKK.
2. You’re both an artist and a comedian. What came first and which one do you find you spend most of your time?
Art came before comedy. I had some good friends who were very talented painters (still are) would let me paint with them when they let me crash on their couch when I was on break from college. They were my first inspiration and really made the artist lifestyle appealing.
After college, I was teaching in Brooklyn just near Pratt University, a very prestigious art school. Students were constantly throwing away supplies and canvas so I began bringing trash home (which roommates love!) and began painting in my spare time.
A couple of years later, I had my first exhibition in a bar in Brooklyn, which I couldn’t even attend due to having a back injury. LIFE!
Coming up on my ten years of stand up, I try to write every day, and have several different notebooks for different steps in my writing process. It’s hard to say which takes up more time, as physically the art takes longer but stand up ends becoming a 24-hour mindset. Everyday conversations can be an extension of comedy and there’s not much of an “off” switch, for better or worse (waaaaay fuckin’ worse).
Sneak peek of Adam Palmeter in action from 2017
3. I am a keen fan of British comedians, in particular, Jimmy Carr, who is known for his one-liner put-downs when being heckled (often referring to their mums!). Being a stand-up being heckled comes with the job, how do you deal with hecklers any particular approach?
Generally, if a heckler says something, I’m pretty on top of it and can make a quick joke about them or the comment, but I really don’t let it throw me off and over address them. I like to keep it moving unless I see a clear path to something really funny on the fly.
Usually, they just want attention, fine, people need attention, especially drunk ones. But if they get too familiar sometimes you make them look like a clown.
If it comes to that, then I’ll extend a quick olive branch in the name of professionalism and move on with my show. If a comedian goes too hard on a heckler, you seem aggressive, so it’s better to just diffuse those situations with a light heart, then you are simply more likable to the rest of the audience and will just add to better show experience for everyone.
4. You spend a lot of time traveling around the world both doing stand-up comedy and painting murals and artwork. Where do you most find inspiration and are most influenced?
Two sides of the same coin, really. I get to meet local people running businesses, schools, shops, offices, bars, barbershops, tattoo shops, restaurants, cafes, etc. And I get to paint their walls while creating relationships with these people. Work leads to other work so involving myself with these people I meet around the world accesses several different networks.
Same with comedy.
Luckily, if I’m in a new city meeting the local stand-up comedians, there’s a good chance I’m hanging out with the funniest people in that city and getting international perspectives from the comedians as well as studying the humor and joke styles really helps me write more international jokes more efficiently.
Really both of these end up feeding each other in this lifestyle.
I’m very fortunate to have a business that forces me to meet new people constantly. I really can’t express enough how important networking is to the success I’ve had at curating the life I enjoy.
5. When I check out your Facebook page you do seem to paint an awful lot of toilets. How many is it now and what’s with the stall painting fetish?
Haha, well, it began as a city-wide art installation in Saigon, Vietnam entitled “Adam Palmeter In Stalls”.
I figured doing a series of abstract murals in some of the most well-known restaurants, clubs, and bars in the city would get me a little attention as well as getting to practice painting in unconventional places.
It’s a unique space that people interact with alone and in an intimate way.
Everyone has the same reaction: they walking the bathroom stall, see my art, say “huh”, then take off their pants.
Not sure if its a fetish, but there’s certainly an interesting feeling of power that my art is around a lot of exposed private parts. Not sure how many people pissed, did drugs, or made out with someone next to a Banksy, but I’m pretty sure I’m ahead. Lol. “A head”.
6. How do you get your artist and comedy gigs? Is it word of mouth or do you actively put yourself out there?
I have a lot of international contacts from the last several years of globe-trotting so it’s good to be able to reach out for gigs wherever I am. However, sometimes there is no English comedy where I am, so I will find the ex-pat scene / digital nomad Facebook groups, find a venue, promote and put on a show myself. Sometimes a couple of people will do an open mic spot, and sometimes it’s just me for an hour or so.
Same for art, I hit the Facebook groups or sometimes just walk around with my bag of paint and find places myself, either for money or just for free because I think it would be a good place for a mural. Usually, I show them my Instagram, and people are generally pretty receptive to free art.
7. Your painting style is really unique and has thought this would work really well on merchandise. Have you thought of going the e-commerce route? There are plenty of guys that can help you out with SEO and paid traffic 😉 (psst…a few may even sell you some links…)
Yea, I was half-pursuing that a couple of years ago but lost focus despite certain things as I was focusing on my books. Perhaps I can revive business with the designs, I’m open to ideas contact me (details below)!
So, what’s with the buffalo shop?
My family has all relocated to Buffalo, NY so when I am visiting family I create Buffalo skylines, hats, vintage hand saws, and digital designs. Kind of a long ball game and seeing what works but I love Buffalo. Had an art show I’ve been very inspired by that city so much with its vibrant art and comedy scene so it’s always fun painting Buffalo inspired work there.
8. I am keen to know more about your book, “TeeLee and the Opportuni-tree” a business book aimed at kids. What inspired you to write this and what’s it about?
About 6 months ago, I self-published the first in a series of children’s books entitled TeeLee and the OPPORTUNI-TREE (available now on Amazon!). It’s an introduction for young children to the concepts of business, entrepreneurship and the opportunities that they can provide.
My cousin Keith Ginsburg is a financial advisor who, years ago, came to me saying there was really nothing out there helping young kids to create the foundations for financial literacy.
He works with people all the time who lack basic financial literacy and as a father, was concerned that there are so few resources available that help strengthens the financial skills of the next generations. Using that as a starting point and having been a teacher for so long, I wanted to write a book that could be used as a valuable educational resource. I wanted to create something that would inspire children to think and take action, create their own opportunities while building skills, confidence, and experience through a business.
The book is brightly colored and animated in a very kid-friendly way, however, the concepts are applicable to up to 4th grade.
In my experience as a teacher, young kids love books that area attractive and asked to be read them more for the visual experience, but using this book as a vehicle to simply discuss the businesses that are all around them gets kids thinking about these concepts at an early age.
It really helps establish a mindset at an early age.
It’s my hope that this sparks interest and understanding in these young readers so they can have a better understanding of the world around them. A world that they are already very much a part of. When a child spends a dollar on a slice of pizza, they should understand what happens to that dollar and how it moves through an economy, an economy of all types of businesses, an economy that they can be apart of.
The TeeLee and OPPORTUNE-TREE series is a teacher trying to add value to classrooms even if I’m not in them. I’ve sent several copies to teachers who have already found their own ways to create lesson plans and getting their students excited about starting their own businesses.
Honestly, as cliche as it sounds, that’s what makes it worth it. If I can get the teachers excited, they can get the kids excited and I’m been overwhelmed with the responses I’ve gotten from teachers and parents alike.
9. What’s next Adam? You have many talents, so I am keen to know what’s next on the horizon.
Stay the course!
I’m hard at work on the next two books, painting lots of walls, performing comedy and have no real complaints.
Always looking for new walls, marketing/SEO advice, or other conferences around the world that might need a comedian to emcee. SO, if any of your audience might be in to what I’m doing, or just want to say hi, you can visit my website or contact me directly through FB Instagram.
I’ll be there for CMSEO2020!!!!
Thanks for your time again Adam. I am keen to know if you’re back at the Chiang Mai conference again in 2020.
Check out Adams official site here – https://adampalmeter.com/