Unorthodox Careers: Claudia Estrada


Photo by Marissa Both.

Rylee Dang, Former Features Editor

This previously ran in our April 2022 print issue.

Navigating the multitude of different career choices during her time in college proved to be a difficult task for former Emmaus student Claudia Estrada, yet among the chaos of college classes she was able to find one passion she could turn into a career: stand-up comedy. 

During her six years in college, Estrada switched her major twice, trying to search for a path that captured her heart. Estrada turned to writing and graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 2020. In the meantime, she was writing for the Temple News, the college’s own publication, but still took the time to explore other classes and careers in Philadelphia. While Estrada enjoyed journalism, she found ways to break into the comedy scene in Philadelphia through her cousin, with whom she lived, who was also active in the stand-up community. 

After taking a writing for comedy class in college, Estrada found that while writing journalistically required countless restrictions and rules, comedic writing was “freeing,” and she ran with the liberty that the new style offered her. When she finally began performing on her own, Estrada fell further in love with stand-up comedy. 

“The first time I did comedy I actually didn’t do that bad because I’ve been watching it for so long,” Estrada said. “I’ve seen so many people bomb really bad, so I knew to not go up and bomb like that. But I think it was just an adrenaline rush, like going on a roller coaster when you’re up there for that five minutes.” 

After diving deeper into the comedy scene, Estrada became comfortable with getting on stage for an audience and became accustomed to the rush that stand-up provides her with. Now, after all of the effort that Estrada has put in, she describes stand- up as an addictive activity, one that keeps her coming back. 

“It’s like a high that you just want to keep getting more of, and then the first moment when you do really good and people start standing up for you and applauding, it’s the best feeling in the world because I worked really hard,” Estrada said. 

To support her love for stand-up, Estrada works as a writer for her day-to-day job. While she enjoys performing, each show does not pay much — or at least enough to make a living off of yet. Estrada claims that sometimes she only walks away with $25 for a night, and many times the pay fluxuates. Despite this, she feels that it is all worth it to get onto the stage for a night. 

In the future, Estrada wants to use her experience to become a writer for sitcoms, citing different shows she grew up watching such as Golden Girls and Fresh Prince of Bel Air as inspirations for her dream. 

Since she started two years ago, Estrada has grown her abilities on the stage from her first set. Now, Estrada has worked her way into different comedy venues, including the Philly’s Phunniest comedy competition and Broadway Comedy Club in NYC, which will be her first headlining gig. 

“What happened is that I did a short set there a couple months ago — just five or seven minute set. The people who put on Broadway Comedy Club videotaped it and those people saw my set then they asked me specifically to come back and headline a show,” Estrada said. “That was probably the biggest thing that’s happened to me so far because you never know who could be there. It could be your big 15 minutes — probably not — but you never know.” 

Although it took some time for Estrada to find what she loves, she wishes that she could have been able to pursue stand-up sooner and forgo the years of just watching and waiting to go up to the mic. 

“Don’t wait like I did. I always wanted to get up on that stage and I waited all this time, [so] if you have something that you feel like you want to do, who cares what anybody else thinks,” Estrada said. “People are going to judge me… everybody has an opinion on the internet. You just gotta roll with the punches.”