A Wall Street Banker Turned to Comedy for Happiness and a Career Change
This story originally appeared in the Dec. 17, 2013, edition of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
A Wall Street banker is the very definition of the word success. For the past five years, Jeff Beals has been in the position of a real-life Scrooge McDuck; he has been rich and happy, driving his own Hummer and giving all the charity money he’s ever earned back to the world. Then came the recent financial crisis, and now it’s 2014. Beals is broke. He has a mortgage on his three-bedroom rental in Brooklyn, and his girlfriend and their baby are living together in London on a one-year visa.
But, he is a true-blue optimist, so he’s still convinced that all is right with the world, even though his world is falling apart. As a good Southern conservative would say, this is a “can’t-get-right” situation. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
“We all have bad days,” Beals says. “I’ve had a couple of them, particularly the last five months.
“I started to feel kind of bummed out in September. It’s all so new to me. I had no idea what to do. But then I felt worse, and I didn’t understand how it came back to me. I went to bed. I had a glass of wine. I went to sleep. My girlfriend was on line. She asked me what was going on, really. All she wanted to do was talk to me. She was just crying. She told me about our problems, and I did try to get in touch with people, but some of them don’t have good answers for you. I was not feeling a very optimistic outlook. That’s when I got into comedy.”
Beals, who had worked in mergers and acquisitions at Credit Suisse and Bank of America, was an all-around funny guy with a good sense of humor. But it was his love of comedy that made him a perfect fit for a financial industry that