WEST PALM BEACH – Sean Finnerty turned a rather what could have been a disastrous vehicle breakdown into a positive life-altering event.
Already looking to leave New York City after living there for less than two years, the Ireland native and his buddy were vacationing in Florida when their van broke down in Vero Beach.
“This might be a sign,” Finnerty recalls thinking. “We were like, Where’s the nearest place that seems like civilization? We went to Orlando, got a job two days later working in a bar.”
The move proved to be the catalyst for a new career.
“Three weeks later I started stand-up comedy in Orlando, Florida,” Finnerty said.
A 2014 Florida’s Funniest finalist, Finnerty moved back to New York about five years ago before heading west to Los Angeles – a move that ultimately resulted in a 2019 appearance on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Now, he’s back where it all started
“I like LA,” Finnerty said. “I liked it just fine. I’m 32 now. I’ve been with my girl for five-and-a-half years. I’m kind of coming to a point in my life where I know I can make the money. I know the money is there. So now it’s like, What do you want to do in terms of looking to the future – family and all that stuff?”
Realizing that he’d reached a level that allows him to live in places that are not New York or LA, Finnerty recently purchased a condo in Orlando.
On Wednesday he headlined Jackie Sanchez’s Jacked Up comedy show at the Palm Beach Improv, during which he successfully drew on some local Florida knowledge for the first few minutes of his set. In the next couple months Finnerty is booked for numerous dates throughout the Sunshine State.
“This is the comeback tour,” Finnerty proclaimed with a laugh.
The COVID pandemic didn’t afford Finnerty much time to capitalize on that Tonight Show appearance, but he still recognized a noticeable boost.
And unlike many LA-based comics, Finnerty did manage to tour despite the pandemic. Last August he returned to Europe, performing in upwards of nine different countries over five months, while also spending time with his family in Ireland.
During his pandemic-induced downtime Finnerty estimates he added 25 minutes of new material.
But after performing as much as a he could over the previous decade, Finnerty saw the benefits of a little down time.
“I think I came back with a renewed enthusiasm,” he said. “When you take time off in comedy, you kind of feel guilty, but when it’s a forced time off you have no choice, so when you come back you’re just excited because you get to do the thing you do again.”