I interviewed actor/writer/producer/magician/professor/tax accountant/humorist Jeffrey Thompson about how he manages to balance it all during quarantine, and here is what he had to say!
Cat Doss: Tell us about yourself and your career.
Jeffrey Thompson: Oh, boy! This is always a fun and easy question. Okay … so I’m a multi-hyphenate: Actor-Writer-Producer-Magician-Professor-Tax Accountant. I enjoyed acting from a young age and I fell into writing because it was fun creating characters and worlds that were interesting to me. I fell into producing because I wanted to be able to share those characters and worlds with other people. I fell into magic because … honestly, I just wanted to learn how to make coins disappear and then I fell in love with the art afterwards.
The other stuff is a little random, ‘’ll admit. I had always wanted to be a psychologist, so I studied it in undergrad and eventually got into a masters program, where I started to realize that I didn’’t love being a therapist, so I got my masters and started teaching psychology at a local community college. I applied to an MBA program for fun because I wanted to learn about business, and I got in and then graduated with an MBA a few years later. And I had learned accounting, fell in love with taxes, and started helping people do their taxes. And now I have a roster of over 200 clients.
Cat: A lot of your humor is topical or political. What sparked your interest in politics?
Jeffrey: Well, in college I decided I would one day run for President of the United States, and then after Obama got it, I was like “Ah, he beat me to it!” But then Trump got it and I was like “Oh man, now I have to be President!” I kind of feel like armchair Presidenting is fine, but I want to figure out a way to help lots of people and push the country towards positive change.
It’s weird, because I’m not very interested in politics, per se. My background is in psychology, so I’m very interested in the people behind the politics and how to fix our sometimes very broken system.
As far as my humor is concerned, I kind of learned over time from the response I got to my jokes, that people enjoyed my relatively positive take on very dark issues. I like jokes that you can miss if you’re not paying attention, and when I perform I like to play to the room but also throw in jokes that only a few members of the audience will get. I think humor is a powerful way to communicate a message.
Cat: Can you tell us about some of the projects you’ve been working on?
Jeffrey: I’ve made five short films with my group Great Hair Productions, learned card magic, was named advisor of the year at my college a couple years ago, have a thriving tax preparation and accounting firm, and have watched more TV than is probably healthy (but you gotta’ watch to learn how to write better). I definitely keep busy because I’m constantly learning how I can strengthen my strengths and be a better Jeff.
Cat: Wow! How do you balance it all?
Jeffrey: My secret is partially that I love what I do. Even during the midst of tax season when I’m the most stressed, I really enjoy the process and the people who I get to work with (most of my clients are comedians, so we have fun). I also (usually) know when I’ve pushed myself too hard and need to take a break. Self-care is super important, and I know that sometimes I need to put my computer down and just hang with a friend (or I guess… Zoom call them).
Cat: Any advice for young artists/creators/performers/comedians just starting out as well as professionals who want to expand their career into different creative venues?
Jeffrey: Two pieces of advice: (1) Don’t wait to try things! There is literally nothing stopping you from honing your craft. Want to write better? Google “Writing Scripts” and read every article you can and just try writing and getting feedback. Want to work on your characters? Film yourself in the mirror doing your characters and watch them. You can only get better by doing! (2) Know your strengths and weaknesses. This will constantly change over time, but knowing your strengths means you know what makes you unique and marketable. Knowing your weaknesses means that you can either avoid wasting your time and just focus on your strengths and determine where you need to grow and give attention to those areas.
Cat: Any big projects in the works?
Jeffrey: Haha, well my goals for this year (as many peoples’ were) have been affected by COVID-19, so that’s … a fun question. My two big goals for the year were to either join WGA or become a magician member at The Magic Castle, but the castle is currently closed and Hollywood is semi-shut down, so that’s pretty lame.
But I’ve been improving my skills so that once the world has reopened, I’ll be in a better shape creatively to achieve my goals! I’ve been taking voice lessons (for singing), doing one-on-one magic training (which is delightful), and also studying the Chinese martial art Ba Gua. So my recent project, has just been making me a better Jeff! (Next year will DEFINITELY be my year).
Photos by Matt Misisco
Cat Doss is an artist/writer/filmmaker/performer living in the Los Angeles area. She was born in Huntington, West Virginia. A classically trained painter and a winner of multiple awards in various disciplines, Cat refuses to confine herself to one medium preferring to experiment with her work and investigate the workings behind the creative process. Her art can currently be found at Facebook.com/someassemblyrequired