Thursday, May 1, 2014

How humor and software development are related.

I've been putting out a few resumes and getting back to an HR person with my status. Part of my response describes how having a funny bone has affected me as a developer.


Hope your talent search is going well for XXX. We had a short but good talk last week and went over my qualifications and past work experience. I enjoyed listening to what you and XXX were looking for in prospective employees. I did my best to be as cool as possible, but having our call dropped and me running around the all corners of my building trying to find a good connection, might have made me sound a little nervous :)

My three main takeaways from our call was that culture, personality and technology skills were equally valued by XXX.

Coming from a small town, I feel that I was able to grow up in an environment where being good to your neighbours and having great friends were an important part of life. People still left their doors unlocked and when you drive by in a car you wave your hand. I think I certainly have brought this attitude with me as a Vancouverite, and will wave to my neighbours when I bike or walk around my part of town. I stopped doing this downtown as people looked at me strange (except in downtown east side where they tried to hug me...ewww)

Having not a lot to do in a small town also made you grow your personality and one aspect is that I think I have a great sense of humour and wit. All you have are your friends and when there wasn't much to do we would sit around and make jokes. It was a game of one upmanship, when someone said something funny, you tried your best to build on it or say something even funnier. It's important to note that humour can sometimes hurt people, and being careful not to cross that line is part of the fun. I tend to respect Stephen Colbert's type of humour, and know I'll never be as good. People have told me that I'm funny, but I always tell them, "Really? I'm the least funny person among my funny group of friends".

This trait has helped me make friends and interact with people, but I think it also has helped my career. Rule of comedy - funny comes in threes. You tend to look at a situation or a phrase and think of three things that you can add to it. It really helps with improving your lateral thinking and I find that I apply this to all aspects of my every day work. During a conversation or a question, I come up a set of options, and try to mentally travel down each path and drop the ones that don't work. Then express the good ones. Keep repeating until the best solution is found. This is what developers do all day I feel that it is one of my strongest attributes that one would expect from someone who was more artsy.


A large part of software development is analyzing a situation and choosing an option and testing the results. Comedy is analyzing a situation, finding the absurdity and testing among your peers. Nothing is funnier than seeing your TDD tests pasts, am I right? Is it no wonder that some great comedians had STEM backgrounds?

Jimmy Fallon - CPSC (yes he dropped out for SNL)
Mike Judge - Physics
Rowan Atkinson - EEng
Ray Romano - Accounting

1 comment:

Matt Wynan said...

Very good analogy! Bugs are the bane of every developer, and the only way you can avoid encountering the same bug is to test out the code over and over, and learn from the results. It's really the same with stand-up comedy, isn't it? Telling your joke and learning from the feedback of the audience is somehow the same as testing out a code and analyzing its errors. Many thanks for sharing that interesting observation! All the best to you! :)

Matt Wynan @ Innovative Defense Technologies