Al Madrigal Interview: From HR to Stand-up Comedy
What kind of comedian starts out in HR? The best kind, it turns out!
We knew CAHR19 Comedian Al Madrigal was a cool guy, but when we heard he had over 10 years of HR experience — it was fate; we had to interview him.
If you’re not familiar with Al Madrigal, you definitely know his work. You may have seen his regular correspondence on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Night School with Kevin Hart & Tiffany Haddish, his 2013 stand-up special “Why Is the Rabbit Crying,” his 2017 stand-up special “Shrimpin’ Ain’t Easy,” or his award winning and critically acclaimed docu-comedy “Half Like Me.” He has been seen on Conan, The Tonight Show, The Late, Late Show, @Midnight and Jimmy Kimmel Live. He’s a standup legend and an L.A. local with the kind of stories that will leave you in stitches.
CAHR19 Entertainer Al Madrigal
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With such a heavy hitting comedy resume as that, we can’t wait for him to grace the CAHR19 California Stage this Sunday night, August 25.
We’ll see you upstairs in the Grand Ballroom at 7pm when doors open for DJ Noble’s Pre-Show, right? You are registered… right?
If not, you can still register now to attend the conference or register onsite during our Sunday Registration Desk Hours, 12pm – 6pm at the Long Beach Convention Center.
Without further ado, here’s our interview with ex-HR practitioner & comedy genius Al Madrigal.
CAHR19: What was your first HR position?
Al Madrigal: I actually started working in HR at a very young age because my mother worked at PEO in San Francisco when was growing up. I was filing personnel folders and stapling new employee paperwork at the age of 8! Eventually my mom cobbled enough money to buy the company when I was in high school and I began working there regularly during college. I fired my first employee at the age of 19 and became the go-to person for terminations and progressive discipline until I was 32.
Did you ever incorporate comedy/humor in your role as an HR Professional?
Al Madrigal: I tried here and there to use humor to lighten the mood during difficult situations but for the most part as everyone in HR is well aware, there’s little room for jokes in our job unless we’re trading war stories with fellow HR pros – it’s best to play it straight.
Do you ever use your HR experience as material for your comedy shows?
Al Madrigal: I’ve fired over one thousand individuals, I’ve been choked and had to chase people down, I have great HR stories – whenever I’ve tried to tell those stories on stage people in the audience always clam up and see me as the bad guy. Eventually I just stopped trying – I have written several scripts that have been sold to networks over the years that are HR-centric.
How has being an HR professional helped your comedy career?
Al Madrigal: I feel very comfortable in front of a variety of people and like I said, I have amazing stories. I also feel extremely calm in high pressure situations. There’s a lot of pressure in standup comedy and acting but, after firing a ton of people and having many awkward conversations from aggressive body odor to teaching a group of people how to properly use an American restroom, it’s easy to just stand there and tell jokes or memorize lines while standing in the right spot..
What is your most memorable experience as an HR professional? (non-identifying, just a general experience)
Al Madrigal: I went to fire a buff physical therapist guy masquerading as a physician; he grabbed me by the throat and pushed me up against the wall. At that point I had fired about 800 people. I calmly said, “You have two choices, either take the check in my jacket pocket or hit me and I call the cops. I suggest you take the check.” He took the check, walked away and then I peed my pants a little.
What do you miss most about being an HR professional?
Al Madrigal: No offense. But zero. You guys are way too under-appreciated and have a ton of stress. I’m an actor in TV and movies, I get over-appreciated.
What advice would you give current HR professionals?
Al Madrigal: Ooooph, I’ve been out of the game for a very long time. But, I would say trust your instincts when hiring. You develop a sixth sense when it comes to people – trust yourself.
Thanks so much for your time, Al! See you on Sunday!
Well folks, there you have it. Not everyone is cut out to be an HR practitioner. And isn’t it nice to know you have Al Madrigal’s eternal respect and gratitude?
Whether it’s over a CAHR19 lunch, at a Meet to Eat, or before Al’s show, be sure to take the opportunity to exchange stories and laughs just like he described. There’s nothing like connecting with others who truly understand the highs and lows of your daily life – and no better place to connect with like-minded folks than the 2019 California HR Conference.
CAHR19 Keynote Speakers
Learn from World-Class Experts
Bestselling Author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, To Sell is Human and Drive
Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School & Bestselling Author of Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation
Countdown to Al Madrigal's Set at CAHR19