George Wallace doesn’t just make you laugh, he’s got a genuine warmth and down to earth character that makes you like him instantly. I was a couple of minutes late calling George for the interview because my speaker phone button decided it wanted to take a moment. I finally got it to work and was in a state of panic leaning forward to dial the number when the name George Wallace came across my caller ID. I smiled and picked up the phone. You know an interview is going to go well if you’re smiling before you even pick up the phone.
I took George’s new book, “Laff It Off” on a trip to San Francisco this past weekend and after reading it, I came away with way more than I intended to get out of it. Not only does his book reveal his journey to following his passion that led to a 37 year (and counting) career path, it could really be on the shelves in the inspirational section. I thoroughly enjoyed the book but the one thing that really impressed me was the tone of his humor. Most comedians have a negative or pessimistic spin on their routines but George’s jokes tip you over to the brighter side of life.
When I asked George about his positive outlook on life, he was quick to answer. “Making people laugh makes you happy. Comedy is my sex and my drugs. I have the best job in the world. They call me Dr. Wallace because I guarantee you’ll feel much better after you leave my show then when you leave the doctor’s office.”
After learning that George has been interviewed by everyone from David Letterman to Oprah and ranked by Comedy Central as one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time, I was curious to know who he considered to be his mentors in creating such a successful career in comedy. “I learned from everybody.” Sammy Davis Jr, Jay Leno, Richard Pryor, Robin Williams…” He continued to list many well-known names but names no particular person having had the greatest influence.
George owns his own show on the Vegas strip and has broken a record for the longest run in Vegas history for any African American performer. He produces, directors and markets his show. Now that’s talent. Despite his success, his outlook on life is a humble one. “Laughter is one of the greatest things you can do in life. To be mean all the time, you’re going to be negative. Think about the good times and it will always outweigh the bad times. It’s so easy to change your way of thinking about the goodness of life and how blessed you are. Whatever you’re going through, you’re not the only one. Somebody else is going through the same thing and even worse sometimes.”
I really resonated with George’s journey and being able to live my dream from an earlier age. Far too few get to follow their dreams and make a lifetime success of it. I asked George what advice he would give to someone who wanted to follow their dream like he did and he had some simply but very wise words to share: “Make sure you love what you do. When you do what you love, you don’t have a job. The money will come. People will honor your essence and will come.”
A salesman is often the butt of many-a-comedian’s comedy routine but George actually fell into a career in sales early on. I was dying to asking him how a natural-born comedian got into sales and why he was so darn good at it. “We all sell. I sell jokes every night. Everybody’s in the sales business. A teacher has to sell her thoughts, her lesson plan. It’s all marketing and advertising.”
Some people preach positivity but don’t practice what they preach. George shared a story with me about midway through the interview that just happened the day before. It proved to me he’s worthy of the word inspirational. After missing his flight by minutes, he turned a negative situation into a positive one. “I missed my show for the first time last night. I lost a lot of money and I just disappointed people but you know what, there’s nothing you can do about it – laugh it off.”
He may not be the most successful comedian in terms of money or fame but George’s outlook puts him at the top of the list. “I’m the most successful comedian you’ve ever talked to? Did you know that? It’s not about how much money you make it’s how you enjoy your life while you live it.”
Life’s journey can have its ups and downs and with nearly four decades of comedy experience behind him, George regrets nothing and wouldn’t change a thing. “Everything is the way it should be. I’m so satisfied, I’m so happy. I’ve been blessed.”
As the interview progressed, George continued to win me over with his sincerity and appreciation for the simple things in life. The highlight of his career doesn’t have anything to do with the money, fame or celebrities he’s worked with, it’s his love of travel and meeting up with other cultures and people. “Shanghai is my favorite city, what an honor to be there.”
I risked it all and threw in a quirky question at the risk of becoming the butt of a joke. I asked George if he would accept a billion dollars in exchange for never being able to tell a single joke again in his life. I held my breath and waited for his response. “What am I going to do with a billion dollars? I don’t need a billion dollars. I’ve got to keep being happy.”
Next up in the interview was of course the burning question of what lies ahead for him given the fact that he’s achieved so much. For someone like George who is a go-getter when it comes to his work, I expected his career bucket list to be ambitious but it was short and sweet. What’s next on his plate? “Continue doing what I’m doing.” Topping his personal bucket list; “I want to learn how to swim.”
What’s something we don’t know about George Wallace? I learned early in the interview that he’s very open in terms of what he’ll share of his life’s path and who he is but as with everything he shared with me, his answer to this question once again revealed his grounded and real energy. “A guy that talks a lot of bull crap, has a love of gospel music, likes to travel and meet people.” “People need to know that I love them and there’s absolutely nothing they can do about it.”
It was my turn to shock George by telling him that I had never attended a comedy show until recently. I must admit I had a stereotype in my head of what a comedian was all about. George Wallace isn’t your typical comedian or your typical person. He has a simple mission and believes in the power of laughter to heal hearts and create lasting happiness. I hung up the phone and ended my interview with Dr. George Wallace the same way I began: Smiling.
Michelle Arbeau is an internationally recognized Celebrity Numerologist, author, inspirational speaker and radio/tv host. She has a Hollywood clientele base that includes Twilight vampires, Big Bang Theory actress, Pirates of the Caribbean actor, NBC Director, Celebrity stylist and many more.
A media favorite and considered an expert in her field, Michelle is frequently a repeat guest on national outlets such as CBC Radio, CTV Morning Live, Breakfast Television and LA Talk Radio.
As founder and host of Authentic You Radio/TV, Michelle has interviewed many of the top authors, speakers and celebrities in her quest to inspire and empower others to live with authenticity.
Her newly released books, The Energy of Words: Harness the Vibration of Language & Transform Your Life and Soul Numbers: Decipher the Message from Your Inner Self to Successfully Navigate Life are the product of combining her love of numbers with her passion for helping others to find purpose, meaning and joy in life. Visit Michelle Arbeau online.
Published on Feb 21, 2014