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Rob Becker: Financing the 'Caveman'

Rob BeckerRob Becker has been a live performer for more than 20 years, and his trajectory of success has been, for someone in a profession traditionally marked by the longest of odds, spectacular.

Becker started performing stand-up comedy in 1981 in San Francisco. He worked hard at his craft, and within seven years was a top headliner earning a very comfortable living.

While his career was going smoothly, though, his personal life was a bit rockier. He and his then-fiancée (now wife) Erin had been a very "modern" couple. Raised in Northern California, both held the view that gender differences were imposed by society, and that men and women, if stripped of societal roles, were inherently alike. They married under the impression that they would never fight because they were enlightened enough to understand the true nature of the relationship between men and women.

And then they started fighting.

After an elongated period of mutual blame-placing, they realized men and women were not inherently alike; that they were, in fact, quite different. They began to have in-depth conversations about the nature of gender. Over the course of these discussions, Becker began theorizing that men and women were so different they had separate cultures. Not only did their fighting subside, but Becker noticed he was making his wife laugh with greater frequency, causing her to be more affectionate.

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Becker and his wife began discussing their situation with friends who laughed and related so intensely that Becker decided to talk about it in his stand-up act. And as he did, the response -- and laughter -- he received from audiences was greater than ever.

Based on this and a period of intense research, Becker developed the one-man show "Defending the Caveman" about how differences between men and women evolved from our time as hunters and gatherers.

Becker has performed "Defending the Caveman" around the country for 12 years, including a 2.5-year stint on Broadway that made the show the longest-running solo show in Broadway history.

Bankrate.com spoke to Becker about his phenomenal success.

Bankrate: Back in your stand-up comedy days, were you making a living from stand-up?

Rob Becker: Yes. I was making about $100,000 a year. I was headlining and working at comedy clubs around the country, and I also did some corporate stuff, which was very lucrative. But most of it was from comedy clubs.

Bankrate: So what would you get as a headliner?

Rob Becker: I would get about $2,500 a week.

Bankrate: How long had you been doing stand-up until you got to that point?

Rob Becker: I started doing stand-up comedy in 1981 or '82, and by around 1987 or '88 I was making about $100,000 a year. Thinking about it now it's kind of phenomenal, but back in that time I thought it took me a long time. By 1989 I'd been on David Letterman, and I was headlining all these comedy clubs and making a good living.


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-- Posted: Feb. 18, 2003
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