Going Hollywood: Meet Sean O’Connor

People were going Hollywood long before Bing Crosby starred in the 1933 film musical Going Hollywood. Certainly, though, countless unknowns have packed their bags and moved to Los Angeles in the years and decades since then, hoping for show business to discover them and make them a star! New York City may be the city everyone goes to make it there before making it everywhere, but Hollywood remains the place where stars are born and made. It’s Show Business, USA. This is a recurring feature, a complementary West Coast version of Meet Me In New York, The Comic’s Comic’s mini-profile of newcomers, up-and-comers and overcomers of the Southland surrounding Los Angeles. It’s called Going Hollywood.

Sean O’Connor has racked up some impressive credits since going Hollywood. Within months, he was named a “New Face” at the Montreal Just For Laughs festival. Since then, he has appeared on Conan twice, featured as a talking head on VH1 and MTV shows, and just last weekend, taped his first half-hour for Comedy Central. As a writer, he’s also worked on MTV’s Video Music Awards, The Sports Show with Norm Macdonald, and current series Upload with Shaquille O’Neal on truTV, and The Ben Show on Comedy Central. Before all of that, though, as a New Yorker in 2009-2010, O’Connor created and co-starred in a webseries about a couple called “Sean and Meghan.” Meghan was played by a relatively unknown actress named Allison Williams, who as the webseries cast bio says, also was shooting “THE UNTITLED LENA DUNHAM” pilot for HBO. Fun fact! Let’s learn more fun facts about Sean O’Connor.

Name: Sean O’Connor
Arrival date: Feb. 7, 2011
Arrived from: New York
When and where did you start performing comedy? Sept. 1, 2004 – New Jersey
What was your best credit before moving here? Public radio’s This American Life

Why did you pick LA over NYC or anywhere else?
I picked LA over NY because I had lived in NY and it continuously kept knocking me down. During the winter of 2010, I decided that NY would no longer have any power over me. It was very much like a Lifetime movie.

How long did it take to get your first paid gig in LA after moving here?
I got hired to write for Sports Show with Norm Macdonald two weeks into living in Los Angeles. That made me feel immortal.

How is this scene better/same/worse than the scene you started in?
It is better and worse. I would say New York allows you to go up a billion times a week while LA has a bunch of quality shows and not much else. I would also give a pro to LA because every show has someone there that can make you a star. But they never do, they were just at the show for themselves not to look for stars.

If you lived and performed in NYC, how would you compare working as a comedian in Hollywood to that previous experience? 
I would say my years in New York were invaluable. New York prepares you for all future failure. If I just moved to LA fresh out of NJ, I would probably be a waiter right now and not doing comedy. I needed the New York experience, it taught me how to make friends, it taught me that I am not good at drinking. It also taught me how to construct a joke. I’ve since forgotten that.

Was there a moment when you felt your life and career really had “gone Hollywood,” and how do you explain it to friends or family back home? 
When I wrote for Sports Show with Norm Macdonald. My parents would text me and ask what jokes are mine and I would explain that you don’t really count what jokes are yours… then they would continue to poke and prod and I would tell them which jokes were mine. It was a really cool experience that my family did not understand. I also didn’t really understand it because the last job I had was a dogwalker in the financial district.

What tip would you give to any comedian who moves here?
Come ready. Come with at least 20 minutes of material that works everywhere and a personality that people want to be around. Don’t blow this. You only get one shot.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Hopefully, not dead. I would like to write for a network show and have an amount of money saved up that someone in a bank commercial has in their bank account. Like a solid $7,233.65.

You can follow him on Twitter @seanoconnzYou also can call up Sean O’Connor’s second appearance on Conan from 2012 by clicking this video link here.

Profile photo of Sean O’Connor above by Tyler Ross, shot in 2012 at NerdMelt in Hollywood, Calif.

Is there a comedian in Los Angeles that you’d like to see me style and profile for another installment of Going Hollywood? Send your nominations to: thecomicscomic AT gmail DOT com

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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