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Inside Iowa State
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January 17, 2003

Peter Orazem

After five

Ever wonder where your co-workers are headed at the end of the day? This Inside feature catches up with university employees "after five." Photo by Bob Elbert.

Name: Peter Orazem

By day, he's: Professor, economics

After five, he's: Stand-up comic

Did you hear the one about: The econ prof who went to comedy college and now does stand-up routines about his father, a Slovenian immigrant turned economist and professor. See, he climbed up onto this stage for the first time: "And I was so nervous. But I have to say, when I told that first joke and it got a huge response, boy, that really felt good. I had no idea if any of the jokes would work, and it was an absolute blast."

And mostly, he cracked everyone up: "Unitarians laugh really well. And the Maintenance Shop is perfect for stand-up. But there's that fine line between humor and annoyance, and I often find myself on the shady side of that continuum for my family."

OK, so here's the punchline: "I've always tried to make this stuff work in the classroom, but it's not the same. For one thing . . . well, I guess I can't absolutely say none of my students are drunk. Anyway, this professor gig has worked out reasonably well, and since they won't give you a faculty improvement leave to study stand-up, maybe I'll just end up being the Grandma Moses of comedy. Although I think what I'd really like to be is a rock 'n roll star."

... Becoming the Best
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