A bright spotlight shined on a wall covered with red Victorian-inspired wallpaper as the host ran up to the stage to introduce the next comedian at Stand Up New York on the Upper West Side.
“You may have seen him on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ ” the host said, causing many in the crowd to turn to catch a glimpse of the person in the wings. Waiting to take the stage was Dean Edwards, a 45-year-old comedy veteran.
This was his second performance of the night on May 27, and Mr. Edwards hopped onto the stage and instantly leaned against the wall with his leg up as he started telling jokes. Laughter filled the room throughout his set.
“Unlike the majority of other entertainment jobs, I have freedom when I am on stage,” Mr. Edwards said. “Performing is freedom.”
Mr. Edwards wanted to be a comedian when he was very young. “I saw Eddie Murphy’s ‘Delirious’ in September ’83, ran into my parents’ room and said that’s what I want to do, and they encouraged me,” he said.
Nine years later, he performed his first stand-up routine during a college comedy competition and came in second place. “After that, nobody could tell me anything,” Mr. Edwards said.
Since his college days, he has been featured in numerous comedy shows, from HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam” to MTV’s “Guy Code.” But he is perhaps most famous for the two years he spent on “Saturday Night Live” from 2001 to 2003
Mr. Edwards spends about 26 weeks of the year on the road, performing on cruises and comedy clubs across the country. It’s a life that requires a lot of focus and effort.
“It’s a marathon, and you’ve just got to put in time,” he said. “There have been peaks and valleys, but it’s been a cool ride.”
When Mr. Edwards is not on the road, he lives a regular life in Brooklyn. The morning before his two Friday shows, he hit the gym for a workout and boxing with his trainer, Steve Frank. Mr. Edwards boxes four times a week when he is in the city.
“When you’re working in these clubs and going on the road, those gigs are always great, but your eating stinks,” he said. “You’ve got to do something because your body is your temple.”
After his workout, Mr. Edwards took the subway to Bedford-Stuyvesant to get a haircut at Dons and Divas, a barbershop that he has been visiting for more than a decade. While there, he had to fit in a quick interview with a Seattle-area radio station to promote his show there the next week. And he did it in the only place where he could find peace and quiet: his barber’s car.
After that he went home to relax and prepare for the long night ahead. Mr. Edwards said he has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. He is working on material for his first TV comedy special, possibly airing in the next year.
“We create our own success,” he said. “The work ethic always pays off.”