When profiled in the “Adventures of” series in the Washington Post Magazine in 2005, Greg Estrada had a clear mission. “I’ve got to make my mark on the world,” he said. “I’ve got to do that thing I’ve always wanted.”
At the time, the 41-year-old thought that meant becoming a hilarious D.C.-area comedian, so he divided his time between managing his family’s carpet business and producing amateur comedy shows. Estrada also met Lia Felker — a mental health therapist with an 8-year-old son, Jackson — on Match.com and the pair quickly became a part of his whirlwind life.
Still, it wasn’t exactly happily ever after. Scared by the commitment, Estrada says he broke things off and that he and Felker presumably began to move on with their lives. Only he couldn’t. “I missed Lia. I felt like this Neanderthal cave man who was experiencing emotion for the first time,” he says. “ ‘What is this feeling? … This is new. I guess this must be love.’ ”
In April 2007, Estrada resolved to win her back. Not with flowers or candy but with bags of Trader Joe’s groceries. “Here’s a single mom. She doesn’t have a lot of time on her hands,” he explains. “She hated my guts, but she needs those groceries.” For two months, he dropped groceries off weekly at Felker’s house, which eventually led to his being allowed inside to put them away. They resumed dating, and about a year later the pair married.
Today, the family lives in Rockville and teams up for Estrada’s comedy shows. On Saturdays, Felker and Jackson help Estrada with the set at the weekly show he hosts at the Hyatt Regency in Bethesda. It’s a gig he has run for five years, in addition to the weekly open-mike nights he organizes at Ri-Ra in Arlington and the Topaz Bar near Dupont Circle.
“It’s turned into a grind,” Estrada says.
The job of setting up events while rehearsing one-liners is one reason Estrada has stopped doing stand-up. Besides, he says, “some of my contemporaries are off-the-charts hilarious. I knew I could never be what they were.”
As for the future, Estrada will take over the reins of the family business when his 72-year-old mother, Joan, decides to retire. He’s not relishing the prospect. “I might have to stop doing the comedy; I don’t know,” he says.
For now, Estrada is a content man with a much simpler definition of success: “Stay married. Don’t screw it up. Raise a kid who believes in himself,” he says. “My goal is to keep it together.”