For years, Natalie Caylor had listened to her husband, Ed, say he wanted to be a comedian. He talked a lot about it but did little to make it happen.
Then, for his 30th birthday, she gave him a gift that would change his life and help him fulfill a dream: admission to a comedy-school class.
In the 16 years since receiving that gift, Caylor has left the 9-to-5 world behind. He now spends most weekends performing. He paints houses on the side, but most of his income comes from being a comedian. He works under the name Big Ed Caylor, and he's a regular performer at The Comedy Catch. He works primarily in clubs up and down the East Coast.
Q: How did you get started in comedy?
A: My wife bought me a comedy-school class for my 30th birthday. They were at The Comedy Catch. I'd always wanted to do it and was basically just chicken. When the class had graduation ceremonies, I was asked to be the headliner. I started doing open mike and got the bug. Then [Comedy Catch owner] Michael [Alfano] asked me to start hosting shows.
Q: Do you work mostly clubs, or do you also do corporate shows and cruises?
A: Mostly clubs. I have done some corporate shows, but the bulk of what I do is clubs. I average between 40-46 weeks on the road.
Q: What type of comedy do you do and have you tried others?
A: I tried props once in the very beginning and it just wasn't me. I'm kinda glad because I'd hate to carry that all over the place. I have friends in bands and I told them after traveling with them that they'd earned their money before playing a note. All I need is a mike and what's in my head.
Basically what I do is tell stories about things that have happened to me and the way I view things.
Q: You do some shows with Ricky Peardon on the Hicks Gone Wild tour. How has that worked out?
A: Great. We met at the Comedy Catch doing open mike 13 years ago. Our comedy is real close in that we are both Southern and country as can be; but Ricky is mean and hateful and cranky and I'm the good guy. It's a blast. Plus, having a traveling buddy makes it a whole lot better.
Q: Do you guys shares ideas and criticisms?
A: We critique each other and we'll give each other down the road. After a show, you are all wired up and you can't go to sleep so we'll sit up till late with a pen and notepad and write or critique each other.
Q: What have you learned over the years of doing this?
A: I've learned you can't please everyone and I've learned a lot about traveling. When I get on stage, I go up there and have fun. I've learned to read a crowd. Some want it cleaner than others and you have to know within the first few minutes. A lot of comics are bothered by hecklers, but as long as they're not hateful I try to play along.
Q: Do you enjoy being a comedian?
A: I love it. I do enjoy being on stage. I'm having just as much fun as people in the audience.
Q: Would your wife say she's happy she bought you those classes?
A: I think she'd say yes. We've had a lot of fun. Plus, I don't think I'd be alive today with the job I had before. I can load the family up and we go to the beach and shop when we want to. We love to shop, especially at the antique shops. One time I was in Indiana trying to figure out how to get an Amish screen door tied to the roof of my car to get it home.
Q: What are your long-term goals?
A: My long-term goal would be to actually work the name brand clubs like the Improv and maybe to do a couple of cruise ships. As long as I can make a dollar and pay my bills, I'm OK.