top of page
  • Writer's pictureDavid Reuben

Steven Pearl

Comedy Lifer

"Steven Pearl is the Comic's Comic and after all these years he still has the fire in his eyes." -- Kenny Robinson

"Seeing Steven Pearl live makes you want to be a stand up all over again." -- Mark Christian Walker

"Steven Pearl not lonely riffs with the best, he buttons the riff with a surreal hilarious signature that conveys his unique mindset. Steve is inspirational and an unappreciated gem." -- Alan Park

Marc's Maron's season 1 episode # 68 talking with a San Francisco comic from the '80s who pioneered a stream-of-consciousness style of stand-up, survived a nasty drug habit, and emerged with his life in perspective. No, not Robin Williams. It's Steven Pearl, who is, in fact, one-of-a-kind." -- Marc Maron

"Cocaine using tomorrow's energy today!" -- Steven Pearl

"I love to get onstage and even if I never make another cent at it, I'll never quit doing it. In fact when I die I'm still gonna do another 10 minutes!" -- Steven Pearl

"Sure people watch Steve kill every night on some comedy stage somewhere. Many have been influenced in the years he has become a legend. The one thing that impresses me most was he has not lost the fire in his eyes to whip a crowd into a frenzy. That to me is the biggest lesson Steve pearl can teach all of us." -- Darren Frost

In 2018, This comedy lifer from the 1980's, was Toronto performing at the famed Yuk Yuk's Club and I was lucky enough to see him perform twice and spend some quality time with the legend himself. Not only did I spend time with Mr. Steven Peal but many of the comics for the Toronto 1980's comedy boom made a point of seeing Steve in action.

Seeing Steven Pearl is like watching the Energizer Bunny after he has been dropped in an oil tanker filled with Red Bull. Riff after riff, tag after tag running back and forth on the stage like a panther in heat. So who is this man that has influenced generations of stand-up comics? According to Mark Christian Walker, "Steven Peal is the architect of the post Pryor/Carlin stand up generation."

Mr. Steven Pearl was born 60 years ago in Far Rockaway New York and grew up in Hewlett on Long Island. Steven remembers always wanting to get out of Long Island and on a trip back a few years ago it looked exactly the same. One of his childhood friends still live on the street they grew up on. Steve says, "If I end up living my old age in Long Island just shoot me in the head."

Growing up the young Mr. Pearl was a talent cartoonists and had a love of music and some of his early influences were Jazz, Blues, and Rock. Steve was drawn to musicians that had humour such as Allan Sherman, Spike Jones, Frank Zappa, Tom Lehrer and John Lennon. "For me comedy and music are first cousins. I can't do without either."

After high school Steven spent a year at Ohio University and nothing much of note happened but then in 1977 while a student at New York's School of Visual Arts a classmate signed Steve up for a talent contest because he thought that Steve was funny. Well, Steven Pearl won the contest and caught the fever. He started doing the amateur shows around New York including Catch a Rising Star and The Improv.

In 1979 Steven moved to San Francisco where he quickly became a regular at the Holy City Zoo. While at the Zoo Mr. Pearl was able to hone his original stream-of-consciousness of comedy. Steven Pear did not start out to be a stream-of-consciousness pioneer in fact Steve remembers; "I didn't start out that way. It started out with me looking nervous onstage and being scared out of my wits, but the nervousness eventually turned into anxiousness and somehow morphed into the style I do now."

"Maybe you've heard of Steven Pearl, maybe you haven't. In San Francisco, the comic's comic is Steven Pearl. Maybe the greatest joke writer there for my generation and a serious performer to boot. A throw-back to the Borscht Belt with a Jimi Hendrix soundtrack playing, Mr. Pearl will always be known as the acid-tongue jokesmith that keeps going like hard rockin' tour bus that never stops.

There are many more famous comics, who have more money, but for the comics of San Francisco, Steven Pearl was the act we aspired to be like. You have to see him live to get it. His material is funny. The shit he makes up on the spot is genius. One night leaving the stage, he said to me referring to a passed out woman in the front row, she was higher than Hitler's gas bill." -- Jack Rikess

I recently spoke with Barry Katzmann of the famed San Francisco Comedy Day Festival about how Steven Pearls act has changed over the years. "How has Steven Pearl changed as a performer over the years? He hasn't. That's not to say his act has stayed the same. There's always something new, topical and over the edge. But Steven is still a whirling dervish, spewing rat-a-tat-tat riffs." -- Barry Katzmann

Carrie Snow a longtime friend of Mr. Pearls sees a maturity in his act. "Steven does not only talk about his penis now." Ms. Snow feels that Steven has found peace in his place in stand-up history.

Another close friend of Steven's, Ms. Carole Montgomery says that Steven Peal has grown up but is still "one of the rare few stand up talents that has the ability to kill every time he is on stage."

By the middle of the 1980's Mr. Pearl was deep into the San Francisco comedy community being the first comic to have a paying gig at the Holy City Zoo and opening for the late great Sam Kinison. Sam was so impressed with Steven that he promised to get Steven into the Comedy Store if he moved to Los Angeles.

In 1987. Mr. Steven Pearl made the move to L.A and Sam Kinison keep his promise. Soon Steven Pearl was opening for Sam Kenison, Richard Pryor and others from the 1980's comedy boom at world famous Comedy Store on Sunset Strip. In fact his first week at the Comedy Store Mr. Pearl had to follow Richard Pryor. This was Mitzi Shore's way of seeing if Steven had the chops to work at the Comedy Store.

Steve remembers the three shows; "I went on after Pryor 3 times in a row my first week at the Comedy Store I bombed the first night, and killed the other 2 nights because by then I opened with "Man, going on after Richard I feel like Pat Boone following Hendrix at Woodstock!" and then started singing "Purple Haze" Pat Boone style. It got a big laugh and from then on I had 'em in the palm of my hand, baby!"

The Comedy Store years were crazy both at the club and at Sam Kinison's house. Steven jokes that; I did not sleep all of 1988. Mr. Pearl started to tour extensively in clubs, colleges, and festivals in the US and internationally. This allowed Steven Pearl to grow both as a performer and writer. In fact Steven almost moved to Toronto in 1992.

"I LOVE Canadian audiences*. They're very intelligent and fairly to the left. I say things that get applause here that have gotten me fired in South Carolina."

Twenty One years in Los Angeles including TV appearances on "An Evening at the Improv and Caroline's Comedy Hour. Plus writing for Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks, Jim Carrey, Rodney Dangerfield and good friend Robin Williams.

It was time for Steven to get out of Los Angeles and fate stepped in to help make this life changing decision. Reconnecting with ex -girlfriend Nina who happened to still live in San Francisco made the journey back to his roots both in comedy and personally. Today Mr. Steven Pearl a happy man. According to Steven; I found Nina in San Francisco we reconnected and it was like we never missed a beat." And comedy wise; "thank god I got out of Los Angeles before I hung myself."

If you are a comedy fan then Steven Pearl is a must see live at a comedy club near you. However, if you want to check out this comedy legend on DVD you can purchase his DVD Kamikaze Comedy. Warning!!! Naughty words used!

Steven_Pearl DVD Review
Download PDF • 58KB

​Anyone who'd like a copy of Steven's hour long DVD (in color!) you can get one by sending $14 (or $17 from Canada) to - Steven Pearl 3555 S. Stober Blvd. Suite 117 Las Vegas, NV 89103 USA.

Of course Steve wanted the last word in this article… "Maybe you can mention my unicycle repair business. We're located between the clown college and Ling Chow's opium den on 199th Ave."

From more information on Steven Pearl visit

Mention you found out about Steven Pearl

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page