Business Degree Helped His Comedy Career –

Dan Nainan still remembers the advice Jerry Seinfeld gave to him early in his career: keep the comedy clean and you’ll work anywhere.

Turns out Jerry was right. In his eight years of doing standup comedy, Nainan, 31, has performed for audiences all over the world, including President Barack Obama.

“The people I perform for don’t want to hear dirty jokes; that doesn’t really fit my personality,” Nainan said. “Besides, if my parents knew I was doing dirty comedy, they would kill me!”

Nainan’s career didn’t begin in comedy. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in general business and management from The University of Maryland and worked as a senior engineer with Intel, where he often had to present demonstrations in front of large audiences.

“Presenting in front of thousands of people was really terrifying for me,” he said. “So I decided to take a comedy class to get over my fear of public speaking, and standup seemed like the best way to do that.”

Turns out Nainan had a knack for standup, and he’s been traveling the globe and performing ever since.

“I don’t know that anyone goes to school thinking ‘I want to be a comedian.’ It’s usually something they fall into after being in the workforce for a while,” he said. “Comedy is something I’ve always had an interest in, though. When I was younger, I was really good at doing impressions.”

Nainan said many of the business courses he took in college are useful in his comedic career. His business law course, for which he earned the highest grade in his entire class, taught him about contracts and negotiation.

“It’s so critical to be able to negotiate in my job, as well as being able to look my client in the eye and say ‘my fee is xyz’ and that’s not negotiable,” Nainan said. “I also get a lot of contracts and if they do not include consideration – basically providing nothing in return for my services – then I don’t sign them. I wouldn’t have known about any of these things if it had not been for that business law class.”

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Having begun his career at Intel and transitioning into comedy, Nainan said he’s often asked advice from others.

“They’ll be doing A, but they really want to do B. So many people think it has to be ‘either, or’ but it could be ‘and,'” he said. “Some people say they don’t have the time to pursue their real passion, but I tell them there is time. It just might require reprioritizing and better utilization of your time. If you find your talent and are earning money doing it, then you can quit your job.”

As with any career, there will be days when you’re great and days when your confidence is shaken.

“A comedian can do five or 10 great shows, and then do one where you just bomb. It’s absolutely devastating,” Nainan said. “You begin to question your talent. This has happened to every comedian. But I think it kind of separates the men from the boys, or the women from the girls, to be able to pick yourself up and say ‘I failed this time, but I’m not a failure.'”

Nainan said marketing his comedy has not been difficult, thanks to the Internet.

“The Internet has enabled me – someone who wasn’t famous – to be able to gain a bit of notoriety because of viral marketing,” he said. “I love touring, I love comedy, and I love the crowds and traveling. Eventually, my goal is to have a sitcom or a television show.”

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