Career advice from a stand up comedian

hannah - Career advice from a stand up comedian


I’m a fan of stand up comedy. In fact I’ve tried doing it myself and appreciate how difficult it is*. That’s why I was so interested to read a piece by journalist Marina Khidekel from Thrive Global reviewing Hannah Gadsby’s latest show “Nanette”. The most important quote for me was:


“While Gadsby is certainly turning the idea of a stand-up comedy on its head, she is also doing something bigger, something many of us may not believe we have the luxury of doing — that is, to put our emotional well-being first, and then layer our career around it in a way that supports rather than destroys us. Gadsby could have continued on telling lighthearted coming out jokes, but she couldn’t anymore. And her pivot to a more honest place ended up being what propelled her to international stardom.”


If you haven’t seen the 90 minute feature playing on Netflix I highly recommend you do but don’t expect it to be all funny, there is a lot of serious stuff discussed. Hannah wrote it as a goodbye to comedy and had decided to retire after this tour but now she’s not so sure.

“Nanette” is not just about being a gay comedian, it’s actually about being “other”. It’s about not feeling as though you fit in and the steps you take to try to not stand out in case you create strong reactions in the people around you.


Does that sound anything like what happens to a lot of us in our careers?


Without giving away any of Hannah’s most powerful stories, the risk for the average person in being authentic may not be as great as it is for her but it still exists. Tall Poppy syndrome anyone?

Instead of pursuing the career we really want, we settle for fitting in but that doesn’t always work out. Like Hannah we find that placing our career above our emotional well being comes at a price … maybe it’s a socially acceptable but unhealthy addiction, maybe it’s a relationship breakdown or something worse.


As Hannah proves when you get honest about what’s really going on great things can happen.


So if you know your current career is destroying your emotional well-being what are you going to do about it? Don’t wait until it’s too late to take action because not all these stories end like Hannah’s. If you’re ready to do a pivot in your career I can help.


* FYI, a few years ago I made it to the Wild Card round of my local tryouts for the Melbourne Comedy Festival’s Raw Talent Contest. I still remember a few of the jokes I used … message me if you want to hear them.

#careerpivot #dreamcareer #authenticity