People are always shocked at conventions to discover that I'm a standup comedian when I just had an intelligent conversation about a certain aspect of wastewater treatment or a structural design I've been working on. People are even more shocked when talking to me after a show to find out I'm an engineer, because all comedians are out of work stoners or servers or bartenders, right? No, we aren't. And here's something else, there's a lot of things that overlap that people probably aren't aware.
Being an engineer doesn't do a whole lot for my standup career, and yes, I call it a career. It's a lot more than a hobby to me. However, when you are a young engineer, you don't get a lot of experience that comes later in the profession. Most young engineers are stuck behind a desk, first getting a minor grasp on drafting and design calculations. Then we move on to design calculations and decision making in projects. Then, eventually, we work our way into project management and actually meeting with clients and landing jobs for us to actually design and do all the other things.
Being a standup comedian has taught me more about business practices and what's needed to land work. Getting a project through a bid process in engineering is much easier than trying to convince a bar owner to give me a few hundred dollars to do a show and bring people to their bar. They assume I don't understand how numbers work because I'm a comedian. This couldn't be further from the truth.
However, moving over to the engineering side, who do you think is going to be better at handling a room; the guy who has created hundreds of excel spreadsheets, or the guy who has created hundreds of excel spreadsheets and spends weekends literally reacting to the room and judging what people are thinking. I have to study what I can say and what I can get away with and what I can't. Obviously, jokes I tell in a bar on a Friday night aren't going to go over in a project meeting. At the same time, my ability to look at the room and tell I'm winning over the leaders for the public service district, except for that one guy who keeps checking his phone and is bored out of his mind. What can I do to get that guy on board with using me as an engineer. I ask him directly, do you have concerns with what I'm talking about, or at the least, ask if anybody has anything they are curious about.
Nothing is worse to leave an impression than a boring speaker talking about engineering numbers and facts. If you're well educated and entertaining, if nothing else, you'll have their attention. I'll be writing more on this topic as time goes by, but I wanted to get this off of my chest. Being a comedian doesn't take away from my job, it enhances my ability to do my job. If I get a little feedback in people wanting to hear more about combining passions and careers and lives to make their primary career better, I'll go into more details about specifics in future posts. Lastly, I'm not a stoner, although a lot of comedians smoke weed, it's not my thing.