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Adam Conover Speaks to Your Concerns

Funny people asking serious questions
by Adam Conover
Illustration by Tony Millionaire

Adam Conover Speaks to Your Concerns

Adam Conover
15 Snaps

Dear Adam,

I laugh a lot during sex. I find it funny, but everyone else seems to take it so seriously. I don’t get it. Isn’t sex funny?

Amber Q.
Sonoma, CA

Adam responds:

Sex is better when it’s funny. So much of the time we’re stuck in our heads, arguing with our own internal monologues—Am I doing this right? Was that sexy or do they think I’m an idiot? Should I tell them I’d like it if they pinched me and called me a dirty milkman or would that make them jump through a closed window?—instead of being present and here with the person we’re fucking. A joke is a wonderful way to cut the tension, bring you both back to reality, and, most important, share an honest and genuine moment of pure communication with your grind-partner.

Here are some ideas for some sex jokes you can use:

  • “I learned that trick from [Dame Maggie Smith/Rip Torn/other elderly character actor].”
  • “My mother said that to me just yesterday!”
  • And the ever-popular surprise zerbert.

My partner and I are so committed to sex jokes that sometimes we end up laughing so hard we completely forget to finish having sex. And you know what? It’s just as satisfying, with only half to two-thirds the mess.


 

Dear Adam,

I love your show. It’s fun and informative and feels like a hot shower at the end of a long day. Only it’s better, because it’s a hot moment of truth after a long life of bullshit narratives being thrust upon us. I work in the media. I used to draw, and now I work in animation, mostly advertising and documentaries. My question is this: how do you make the jump from working gig to gig to gig to gig and barely making ends meet, to finding the time to develop meaningful work? How wayward was your path toward your true north? Were there a lot of pit stops? 

I want to join you in the fight against bullshit but, sadly, drawing another ad for a mattress company pays better, and I’m afraid I’ll spend my whole life churning out the narratives I’m against if I don’t start using my powers for good. How did you manage?

David P.
Brooklyn, NY

Adam responds:

I am only a part-time advice columnist, so let me reply honestly: I’m not sure how to answer this question.

I could tell you what I did. During my ten years of making ends meet by doing freelance web design, video editing, and graphic design work, I spent my nights and weekends doing as much comedy as I possibly could. When I had a full-time job, I’d leave work at the end of a long day and hit three open mics before heading home to bed. When I was freelancing, I’d get back from a show at 11 p.m. and put in four hours on my computer before turning in. Eventually, I began to get gigs that were closer to what I wanted to be doing, like teaching sketch comedy at a local improv theater, or doing editing and visual effects for CollegeHumor’s video sketches. All of these helped contribute to the moment when I finally landed my first professional comedy writing job.

 But as easy as it would be to turn that account into advice and admonish you to cram your nights and weekends with the work you want to be doing until it finally becomes your career, I don’t feel that doing so would be fair or helpful. The truth is that I was fortunate and privileged to be able to work that way. I had the benefit of a healthy body, little debt burden, well-paid freelance skills, and a supportive network. Not everyone does, and I don’t believe in giving advice that your advisee may not be able to take.

So what to say? My first thought is that we are often too quick to denigrate our work. I’d encourage you to consider the ways in which the work you are doing today does have value. If it’s keeping you alive, not harming others, and giving you any measure of satisfaction, that is reason enough to be proud of it. 

 But what if it isn’t doing those things? If that’s the case, I certainly encourage you to do everything in your power to make a change. But at the end of the day, we all work with what we have, and I can’t tell you what you have. My advice, as best as I can give it, is to ask yourself: What resources do I have that I can make use of to create a working life that I find more fulfilling?

And if that works out for you, may I propose a follow-up question: How can I change the conditions of the world so that every person, regardless of resources and background, has the same opportunities that I did?


 

Dear Adam,

I worry that I use too many clichés in my vocabulary and am concerned that I sound like a refrigerator magnet. Sometimes there’s a good reason to use clichés, especially when trying to convey general, commonly held beliefs about the world, but on the other hand, I want to push myself to be more creative when I speak to other people. Any advice on this matter?

Sterling K.
Chicago, IL 

Adam responds:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: practice, practice, practice! After all, the pen is mightier than the sword, so put your nose to the grindstone, get your hands dirty, and if at first you don’t succeed… well, you get the picture! At the end of the day, just be yourself, and they’ll soon be shouting from the rooftops: “I’m lovin’ it.”


 

Hi, Adam,

I am a huge country music fan, so I already have a lot of songs saved on Spotify from artists like Waylon Jennings, his son Shooter Jennings, Terri Clark, William Clark Green, et cetera. I also have a song or two on my list from a couple more-mainstream country artists, and ones from other genres, too, like Walk the Moon and Owl City, but my list is mostly country.

What artist or band would you recommend?

Lauren W.
Seattle, WA

Adam responds:

I am a huge country fan as well, and if I started making recommendations, I’d never stop. So I’ll limit myself to one: Spirit Family Reunion is a young, soulful, completely legit country-bluegrass band that plays with more genuine spirit and heart than any other outfit. Check them out.


 

Hello,

Here’s where I am stuck. Currently, my profession involves helping adults with various disabilities find meaningful employment. I believe this is a hidden social justice movement that needs more attention. My problem right now is that I am new to this industry and I feel like my company is unsupportive of me and others in my department. I have been in my position only one year, yet my job description has changed several times. At the risk of sounding like a wide-eyed romantic, I feel like my company is placing too much value on how much funding it can get out of us rather than the actual service we provide for our clients. Despite the progress I have made with my individuals, I have become depressed and apathetic, and it is affecting my work. I have actually started therapy because of it. I am looking for other work, but I feel guilty leaving.

I guess my question is: how do I find the strength to keep going when things get hard at work?

 I want to thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this.

Lacie H.
Baltimore, MD

P.S. My favorite episode of Adam Ruins Everything is the hygiene episode. I now live in fear of fatbergs.

Adam responds:

You have identified a systemic problem in your workplace. The company you work for has improperly prioritized its goals and responsibilities; as a result, you can’t do your work effectively, and the company’s mission is not being fulfilled.

 It’s very natural to feel disempowered and ground down by such circumstances. But I’d encourage you to see it as an opportunity instead. Most people do their jobs without any cognizance of the bigger picture that’s at stake. They show up, do what they’re told to do, react in the moment to any pressing disasters or other hot stimuli, and then go home. Rarely do they look up and ask themselves if the system they’re a part of is truly working. But you’re different. You’ve looked thoughtfully and critically at what’s before you, and by doing so have identified a problem with how the company is run that no one else has. Congratulations: you now have the burden of fixing it.

 One thing I have learned in my years is that if you wait for the people “above you” to solve a problem for you, it’ll never be solved. Because the brutal truth is that they are not smarter, abler, or better than you. 

Instead, do it yourself. Go to your supervisor with a clear, empathetic, and respectful assessment of the problem, and your pitch for a solution. Best-case scenario, you’ll have fixed the problem and shown them that you’re “management material,” because being able to identify and solve higher-order problems like this is literally the only job management has. Worst-case scenario? You’ll have tried.


 

Dear Adam,

How do you know you’re giving good advice? For a long time, I have been someone that people rely on, and often I feel like I’m talking in circles and not actually giving any good, thoughtful advice. Is there a metric I can use or a way to quantify this? How can I do better by the people I love?

Katherine L.
Lowell, MA

Adam responds:

This is a very good question, and one I wish more advice columnists were asked. In the end, all advice is futile. We each live our own lives, infinitely specific and varied in their details. No one’s case is the same as anyone else’s. All we can do—all we can do—is to gather the few crumbs of experience we’ve found on our own paths, hold them up, and say, “Here’s what I found.” Maybe others will find them useful; maybe they won’t. But the effort of communication—that little paper airplane thrown over the high fence of our differences—is worth it, even if we fail to hit the mark.

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