Funny but true: Career advice from your favorite stand-up comedians

Some of the best stand-up comics performing today have really great advice on finding, keeping, and working a job built into their routines.

Career advice can be a little overwhelming, especially when you are searching for a job or unhappy with your work situation. It can be almost depressing to read about all the things you should be doing, or worse, the stuff you shouldn’t be doing but manage to do almost every day anyway.

Luckily, getting career advice doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience. Sometimes you’ll find really excellent advice in places you never expected – like in a stand-up comedy routine! Some of the best stand-up comics performing today have really great advice on finding, keeping, and working a job built into their routines, giving you some hearty laughs along with some really solid career advice.

Here are five of the best pieces of career advice in stand-up comedy today:

Pay attention to the red flags during the interview process

“You ever lie so much on a resume they give you the job, and you want to have a talk with the company to make sure they aren’t screwing with you, like, are you sure about this? Look at me, look at my resume … do I look like an astronaut?” – Cristela Alonzo

While you obviously wouldn’t want to lie on your resume, you definitely want to pay attention during the interview process for things that don’t seem quite right. Are you severely under qualified but they offered you the job anyway? Does everyone in the office seem really stressed or upset? Was your interview really poorly done by people who didn’t seem to know what they were hiring you for in the first place?

Just because you see a red flag or two during the interview doesn’t necessarily mean you should pass on the job, but remember that they aren’t just interviewing you, you are interviewing them too. If the company seems like a place where you would be miserable and you are in a position to be a little picky you might want to pass on the job, or at least negotiate a higher salary before accepting the position.

Do what is right for your career, no matter what anyone else thinks

“I might have messed up, because I was popular as a writer and director. As a comedian, I had to start from square one. I went from getting nominated for an Emmy for directing to signing up for open mics, which is not the way you’re supposed to do it. A buddy of mine calls me Benjamin Button. He says I’m doing my career backward. [But] that’s what my gut told me to do.” – Neal Brennan

Your work life may not always follow the most obvious path. You may decide that the career you’ve built up over the last decade or two isn’t working for you and switch to a new industry entirely. You may decide that your spouse earns enough money to provide for your family and take that opportunity to be a stay-at-home parent. You may find yourself sick, injured, or otherwise unable to continue in the career you loved, forcing you to choose something different.

Just because you aren’t climbing the most obvious ladder doesn’t mean you are going backwards. If the path you choose is helping you be healthier, happier person then there is nothing wrong with going against the grain and doing what is right for you.

Set realistic career goals

“I never have goals or dreams. My sister says it’s pathetic and lazy, but I had a goal, to tell jokes to pay bills and not have to live in a trailer. So, I think I’m living my fantasy.” – Kathleen Madigan

Reach high, aim for the stars, and do everything in your power to achieve your dreams. Nobody is saying you shouldn’t have career goals, but really think about what it will take to get you there and whether or not those goals are going to make you happy.

One person’s definition of success might be another person’s failure, but which of those people is going to be happier at the end of the day? Someone who gets caught on the hedonic treadmill will never be satisfied no matter how successful they become but if you can be happy with enough, the odds are good you’ll never be miserable another day in your life.

Weird stuff is going to happen at the office – You need to know how to roll with it

“Mr. Finch walked into the office, and … I’m quoting, “Ah! One feels like a duck splashing around in all this wet! And when one feels like a duck, one is happy!” And then Mary yelled, “Ooh, ducklings!” To which Mr. Finch replied, “Too old to be a duckling. Quack, quack.” and walked into his office. I think about that every [day].” – John Mulaney

While no two jobs are exactly alike, every job has at least one thing in common – you’re going to deal with some weird stuff at the office. Maybe a coworker is a little bit strange or your customers are crazy, but something about that job is going to give you a story worth telling at some point. If you can find a little bit of joy in the absurdity of office life, you’ll be immensely happier at the end of the day.

The difference between a job and a career

“If you’ve got a career, thank God. If you’ve got a job, I hope you get a career one day…Cos when you got a career, there ain’t enough time in the day. There ain’t enough time! You got a career, you look at your watch, time just flies … Cos there ain’t enough time when you got a career. When you got a job, there’s too much time.” – Chris Rock

If you have a career that you want to do for the rest of your life it should make you at least a little bit happy most of the time. Nothing is perfect, of course, and every job has moments that make you want to tear your hair out, but a career should give you a sense of satisfaction. If you are counting the minutes until you can get out of the office you don’t have a career, you have a job. It might be a really good job with excellent benefits, but it is still a job, not a career. Don’t hang onto a job you hate by convincing yourself it is actually a career or you might regret it someday.

Sometimes you can find excellent career advice in the places you least suspect, so pull up your Netflix queue and see what you can find!