Comedian Chris Gethard: “This idea that failure wrecks you is a fallacy”


Chris Gethard is, by any metric, a success. He's had his own HBO special called "Career Suicide," he's hosted a popular television show, and his "Beautiful/Anonymous" podcast gets over 100,000 downloads a week. That's exactly why he's uniquely qualified to write a book about failure.

In "Lose Well," Gethard traces his circuitous, often disappointment-laded trajectory from Jersey school kid to in demand comic. And he offers his hard-won life lessons on how getting used to falling down can be the best thing.

Failing, Gerhard told Mary Elizabeth Williams on “Salon Talks,” is "not that scary." He recalls, "I've had a lot of things work out. I've had some successes. But I promise you that underneath of all that, the other 90 percent has been nothing but dismal failure. You get used to it. This idea that failure wrecks you is a fallacy, and it keeps us locked up. You just have to go out and learn how to do it. We've convinced ourselves it's a bogeyman. It's not. It can be an ally."

Gerhard advocates for taking a step back and redefining our notions of achievement and failure. "The idea of success and failure is presented as such a black and white issue," he says. "It's never a black and white issue. You land somewhere in these grey areas where maybe things go in a different direction than you expected. I think I just don't believe in 'winning.' I believe in the idea of going to make things happen and buck expectations. But I don't get why it's wrong to live a smaller, gentler, more vulnerable life. I think it's pretty beautiful."


Photography by Jill Greenberg. Watch Jill's TedxTalk on the Female Lens and the problem with only seeing the world from a man's perspective. And find out more about Jill's initiative Alreadymade., a mission to hire more female photographers and content creators.


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