How Can Humor Keep you Going in Business? Hear from a Former Stand-up Comedian!
We sat down with Sarah Konishi today to talk about one of her strongest qualities that has ーmaybe even singlehandedlyー enabled her to find comfort in all areas of her life, including her professional surroundings. By helping her become more adaptable, open minded and comfortable, Sarah’s sense of humor has helped her at every stage of her career (especially since joining our temporary recruitment team where no two days are alike)! The key to success? Try not to take yourself too seriously, Sarah says, and trust that your hard work is going to pay off. If most of your waking hours are going to be spent building your career, it’s essential to have a good time while doing it, no matter your place of work. In the following Q&A, Sarah provides her tips to for keeping it light in the office without losing focus of your goals, and how humor ーwhen used appropriatelyー can even help them come to fruition!
Communications Team: So tell us, how did you first develop your sense of humor?
Sarah: Some of my earliest memories as a child are of my Grandpa Joe playing pranks on all the kids in our family or telling us jokes. Picture a Slovenian version of Don Rickles… that’s my Grandfather. From making us believe he had taken our nose to making it seem like there was a bird in the house, there was always something to laugh about. I learned a lot from my Grandpa starting at a young age about the impact a well-timed joke can have, and how it can bring joy and levity to life in a beneficial way.
As we grew older, I noticed my Grandpa had this “super power”. It didn’t matter the who he was talking to, what their age or background was, he would somehow find an effortless way to slip in one of his famous jokes or catch phrases. Something about his delivery never failed to result in a chuckle or a smile at the very least (ex. “How are ya Joe?” “Older than I was yesterday”). I learned from him that everyone has the power to choose how they walk through life, and quite frankly, it’s a lot more fun if you can do so with a sense of humor. From that realization, my own was born! His ability to relate to people and make them laugh was so influential on my whole family, who all carry that with us everywhere we go. He is the main reason I got into stand-up comedy! More on that later…
Communications Team: At what point in your life did you decide to take your sense of humor, and desire to perform, to the stage?
Sarah: I started doing musical theatre at the age of 7. My first audition sort of fell into my lap –the girl I carpooled to school with had an audition after school one day, and since her family was driving me home I tagged along. I ended up taking the audition myself (because, why not!), and I actually landed the role. From then on, I was hooked. I’m a driven individual, and when I put my mind to something I get it done! This first role opened up many doors for me because it made me recognize performing was a big part of who I wanted to be. So, I planned all my auditions, reminded my parents when I had rehearsal, and would seek out new opportunities throughout my whole childhood. No one could stop me!
When the time came for college there was no question that I was going into theatre. The audition process was rigorous, and I eventually seized the opportunity to attend Point Park University’s Acting Program (one of the top performance schools in the world). During my time there I loved what I was doing and learned so much, but it quickly became apparent that my future might be heading a new direction…
I began to take notes in class on performances and technique and realized that my passion for critiquing and analyzing performances and talent was nearly as strong — if not stronger thanー my passion for being on stage. I decided to discover the world of guidance and business in the entertainment industry. I eventually began interning at Talent and Modeling Agencies and for Casting Directors. I loved knowing that I could relate to the talent and help guide them on their careers. You might be able to guess what happened next…
Communications Team: You must have moved to New York City!? We’ve heard you dabbled in stand-up comedy, too! Tell us about that experience and how you ended up making the move…
Unfortunately, while I was at college my Grandpa Joe I mentioned earlier passed away. Through sharing his love of humor I decided to do something crazy to live out his legacy. I lived in Pittsburgh at the time, so I enrolled in a stand-up comedy class at the local comedy theatre! We were informed that at the end of the course we would participate in a final competition and the winner would get the opportunity to perform at the iconic Pittsburgh Improv. I started going to open mics around the city to try out some material and started building bonds with other comedians in the area. I ended up winning the competition and performed my set at the Pittsburgh Improv. I will never forget that night ー I know my grandpa was watching over me as he has always been my true inspiration! After the class was over I continued to do shows around the Pittsburgh area and attend open mic nights.
As for moving to New York, you got it! I considered L.A. too, but fate truly guided me to NYC since I was simultaneously pursuing a career in talent management and casting. I was asked to interview at a Casting company here in NYC, so I hopped on the Megabus and took the 7hr ride from Pittsburgh to interview. As soon as I got off the bus on my return trip post interview, I was invited back for a second-round interview. On my way back to Pittsburgh (yet again after round 2), the bus was stopped at a rest stop and I received a call offering me the position. The only catch was… They offered me the job on Friday and needed me to start that Monday ー in true form to many aspiring New Yorkers, I knew I had one choice, and that was to accept and begin my new life right away! It was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. So, I went home and packed two bags, performed my last standup show in Pittsburgh and hopped back on the bus to start my new life in NYC and I haven’t looked back since.
Communications Team: How did you discover Clarity and what attracted you to the field of recruiting?
I loved my time in entertainment and I am so proud of the work I did, but the time came for me to really focus on a search for a career that could provide me with a work life balance. I also knew I wanted to help people in a more impactful way that was related to guidance and coaching. A friend of mine recommended recruiting, and suddenly everything clicked in my head. Instead of searching for actors to cast in roles, I could search for candidates to match with a wide array of professional opportunities!
I ended up using Clarity for my personal job search and right away I could tell this was going to be an enjoyable experience. The Senior Recruiter I worked with was so personable and thoughtful, and she truly understood what I was looking for. She made it clear she was looking to find a place I’d feel welcomed and really fit in and contribute to in a meaningful way. She really made me feel like she was cheering me on and knew how to show her clients my strengths. During that process she recognized I might be a good fit internally and suggested that I speak with other members of the team to explore the opportunity ー seeing as recruitment was an area I was focused on already, it felt like it was all meant to be. I came in to meet with a couple members of the team and it was an instant connection with such genuine human beings. I am so thankful that they saw the potential in me and I couldn’t be happier to be here working with such amazing candidates and building teams at wonderful companies!
Communications Team: So tell us ー why is humor so important in the workplace? How can someone use humor effectively at work?
Remember, we all have tough days now and again ー or more often! Keeping a part of your personality looking on the bright side is so important. Having a midday laugh and commiserating over a funny video or story can act like a complete emotional reset when a big obstacle is bearing down on you. It sure helps me and I hope it can help you too!
There are however, some easy ways to show your sense of humor! IMH(humorous)Opinion, here are some easy wins for you to try:
- Share a relatable story with a humorous punchline, or share a well-timed GIF via Slack or email. Little things go a long way! Showing a sense of humor humanizes you and breaks down boundaries between your coworkers.
- Be self-aware and observant, and recognize there’s an appropriate time and place for humor. This step is important! Knowing how to read the room is key to delivering. Humor should be natural, and if you come across like you’re trying too hard to land the joke, you’ll have the opposite effect.
- Work hard and play hard! Reward your hard work in the office by making plans for having some fun ー even if it’s just going to a comedy show! Laughter is a great stress reliever and can help brighten and break up the day!
- Make time to share fun experiences with your coworkers. Whether it be a good happy hour, baseball game, or lunch, shifting up your routine and making room for fun can dramatically improve your outlook on life, and your relationships in the office!
Communications Team: One more quick question: Are you doing any standup in NYC?
I have done a couple of shows here in NYC but the Standup Comedy scene here is no joke! I have friends who wait until 2am at open mic nights waiting to be seen. When I was in casting, that schedule was impossible to keep up with on top of a demanding job in the entertainment industry. I have been thinking about coming out of retirement recently, but really need to get to work on on new material again!
Communications Team: PLEASE keep us posted if you get back out there! Thank you, Sarah!
What are your tips for keeping it light at work? We’d love to hear and give them a try!