Michele Balan doesn´t miss wearing skirt suits to work. Before this critically acclaimed comic´s big break, she was a highly paid software sales executive, but found the work unfulfilling-and pumps just weren´t her thing. Told she had a natural gift for humor, Balan launched her comedy career by impersonating Bette Midler, and then honing her stand-up skills. The highs and lows of scratching out a living in the competitive comedy scene formed the nucleus of her material. And her years of hard work paid off. Balan was a finalist on NBC´s Last Comic Standing and has performed on hundreds of TV series, late-night shows, comedy club stages, cruise ships (including Olivia cruises) and summer festivals. Her favorite gig so far? Performing stand-up for a roomful of A-list celebs at actor Camryn Manheim´s 50th birthday party. But the best part of her job, she says, is ″when someone says ´thanks for making me laugh, I really needed it.´ Another best is the openness in the comedy industry today. I´m so happy the world is changing and that I´m still young enough to see it!″ Catch one of Balan´s upcoming gigs on board a Celebrity Summit cruise. -KL
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