A Guy Walks Into a Preschool

by Josh Gondelman in Boston, Massachusetts

When I was a kid, I never dreamed of being a preschool teacher. I was sure I would grow up to be a firefighter/astronaut/dragon. But then I grew up. And went to college. And by the time I finished, I had lost interest in firefighting and astronauting. And I wasn’t qualified for work as a dragon.

Applying for jobs as my senior year was an aimless and frustrating pursuit. While my friends and classmates shipped off to grad school, leapt headlong into the (since decimated) world of finance, or followed their hearts to non-profit work, I found myself adrift. I applied to several positions, each less appealing than the last: Junior Financial Analyst, Textbook Editor, Ear Wax Taste Tester (okay, I made up the last one). My requirements for any potential job were simple: They had to provide me with the financial means to move out of my parents’ house, and they had to keep my nights free for standup comedy.

Several people close to me (parents, friends, parents’ friends, friends’ parents) advised me to consider a career as an educator. I had experience as a preschool and toddler assistant, and kids are not in school while comedy clubs are typically open. I applied to several centers, and I have worked as a head teacher at the Arlington Infant Toddler Center for the past year and a half.

My day job and night job feed into each other nicely. From my preschool experiences I glean plenty of comedy material. From stories about magic tricks the kids have taught me, to my position as the only male employee on a staff of twenty. And from my standup experience I get practice communicating with a diverse array of people, which comes in handy in the classroom and during meetings with parents.

Right now I am planning my first national comedy tour. I am leaving my post as an educator for a month to travel the country and perform standup. I am excited to go, but I’m also looking forward to my return, when I can continue working with the firefighter/astronaut/dragons and princess/ballerina/attorneys of tomorrow.