I ran into Carolina Gonzaga at one of the many parties that happen at LeadingAge. She introduced herself as a part-time stand-up comic. (Check out the clip below.)
I grew up in British Columbia. My family immigrated from the Philippines. I grew up very religious and in a very close-knit family. I love my Filipino upbringing. It comes with a lot of values.
One of those values is to become a nurse, and so my family assumed I would be a nurse. But as I thought about it, I knew I didn’t want to be a nurse.
My mom convinced me to become a personal support worker. Her idea was to “trick” me into becoming a nurse. I did the program and loved it but didn’t become a nurse.
Somewhere along the line, I realized I needed to figure out what I was going to do with my life for real, and I found a sales and marketing job at a retirement community.
My nine years experience helping people at home [as a personal support worker] really helped me with selling senior living. I’m an extrovert to the extreme. So being allowed to meet new people every day is a perfect job for me.
I got promoted to be a regional manager for the company I was working for, and one day I heard someone say I was part of the “old guard.” It really hurt my feelings, and I felt like it was time to move on.
I quit my job before I had a new job because I wanted to focus on finding a job, which was pretty gutsy since I had a mortgage and a family, but I had the full support of my husband. I posted on LinkedIn that I was leaving this company and that I was looking. Cubigo, the company I work for today, saw the post and reached out to me.
They liked that I also do stand-up comedy, that I am a fitness instructor. They told me they liked the way I write and my voice.
I have so much energy. I teach Pilates a few times a week; I do comedy a few times a week. Throughout my life, people would tell me I should do comedy. But I was scared. It’s scary. It’s not easy. And it was my husband, who just got tired of seeing me in every situation — in an elevator or at the checkout or at a party — always making people laugh and never doing anything about it.
He bought me a course that helps you create your first five minutes. After I did my first five minutes, I never stopped.
So that was six years ago. Now I do corporate comedy for companies. I did it in my old job for hospitals, and I really, really, really love it, and I think that I’m in a way I’m glad that I did end up waiting, because I have so much more to talk about.
I have had two big failures doing comedy, but here is the thing: If you can get through a bombing set, you’re gonna get through anything. It’s made me very resilient.
This conversation has been edited for length.