Earning

Chris Gethard could have chosen Hollywood and been 'much more successful' — here's why he didn't

Chris Gethard during an interview with host Seth Meyers.
NBC/Getty Images

In 2017, comedian Chris Gethard was working out the details of a second batch of episodes of "The Chris Gethard Show" (TGS) for truTV, a project he'd created and worked on since 2009. The show began on the stage of Upright Citizens Brigade, an iconic improv theater. It got a slot on public access television in 2011 and its fan base grew, which helped land it a slot on truTV. 

Then he got a memorable call from his manager, who recommended Gethard quit "TGS" in search of more mainstream opportunities on television and in film, which could possibly have paid a lot more money. Gethard declined. 

"I believe in this thing, and I love this thing," he told his manager. Looking back, Gethard recognizes his professional and financial situations could look very different now had he heeded his manager's advice, but he stands by his decision. 

Here's why Gethard made that pivotal choice and some takeaways about how to make the decisions for you when you're at a crossroads in your career.

'I think his advice was spot on'

When Gethard's manager called that day, "he's like, 'Look, going back to "The Chris Gethard Show" is a bad idea for your career, long-term,'" says Gethard. "'We can be getting you on much bigger platforms right now.'"

Gethard elected to keep working on "The Chris Gethard Show" anyway because he felt a loyalty not just to the project he'd worked on for years but also to the people who'd been doing it with him. They felt like family, and in some cases, they actually were: His wife was the bandleader.

VIDEO2:5902:59
How Chris Gethard created a successful public access series

Video by Ian Wolsten

In 2018, after the third season of the show aired on truTV, the show was canceled. In a Facebook post announcing the show's end, Gethard called it a "mutual decision" between himself and the network.

Gethard says he's "always concerned [himself] more with integrity than with money," and has sometimes elected to stick to projects he's passionate about, instead of seeking out potentially better paying opportunities.

He admits that opting not to stick with 'TGS' could well have helped his career. Looking back, Gethard says, "I think [my manager's] advice was spot on," and if he had listened, "I'd be living a very different life now that in traditional terms would probably be much more successful." Still, he has no regrets.

I'd be living a very different life now that in traditional terms would probably be much more successful.
Chris Gethard
Comedian

'My obituary will be very cool'

As you figure out your career path, it's important to follow your gut and understand what drives you, including your passion and your values, in order to make the choices that are right for you. That can help you make sure you're able to look back on your key life decisions without guilt or regrets.

"You've gotta love what you do," says Junior's Cheesecake owner Alan Rosen about his passion for his industry. Rosen has managed to grow Junior's Cheesecake into the 11th highest-grossing restaurant in America with nearly $24 million in annual sales. "There's nothing better than going to work and it not feeling like work."

Gethard stands by having chosen to follow his passion, and he feels good about his life and accomplishments. "My obituary will be very cool," he says. "And I'm proud of that."

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