Special People Podcast Ep. #13: J.R. Havlan

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J.R. Havlan (@jrhavlan) is an eight-time Emmy Award winner and an 16-year writing vet for The Daily Show on Comedy Central. He now writes for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and also hosts The Writer’s Bloc Podcast where he interviews the finest TV writers in the business. We talk about Jon Stewart, Bassem Youssef, and the high school guidance counselor who’s off-hand remark put his life on track to success.

Dull dreams

Recent nightmare: I’m driving down a long tunnel, when I notice the fuel light is on. Pretty boring. Even my subconscious is phoning it in.

Mother’s Day shout-out

Anyone who grew up in state, foster, or any less-than-ideal homes? Today can be tough. But you’re a hero. You made it. Buy yourself brunch.

(I had some flowers delivered to my mother’s house today. Failure to do this would have been unforgivable, since she lives across the street from a florist.)

Offices are unhelpful

Offices are terrible places to get work done. We’ve created these environments of such ease and leisure, it’s a miracle anything gets accomplished at all.

Think about the typical office. You’re allowed to distract yourself whenever you want. Bit of Facebook? Fine. Some light YouTubing? Knock yourself out. You’re allowed to go to the bathroom whenever you like. Remember allocated bathroom breaks? Those are gone. In fact, even the words “bathroom break” sound antique. Like “Conestoga wagon” or “leech therapy”.

You can head to the break room for coffee (or hot/cold beverage of your choice) whenever you want. Or you can just sit and zone out in your chair. Oh, and there’s good news about that chair: it’s a special, ergonomically designed chair that’s more comfortable than any piece of furniture you actually own. Sit back. Relax. Let it cradle you.

The heat and air-conditioning are constantly shifting and adjusting to protect your comfort. You can find a laugh or a thought-provoking moment whenever you want on the Internet. To be clear: using the internet, you can talk to anyone or consume anything that anyone has ever made, written, said or done in about five seconds.

Oh, and if you don’t like any of this stuff? Feel free to leave. Go stretch your legs. Offices are usually spaces where you can come and go as you please. Just leave the building for a spell. Clear your head. Free yourself of all that stress. Of not doing anything.

Who would choose to do any work in this scenario? Sure, you’re supposed to write that boring report. And you will. Eventually. But who would choose to do it quickly, when you can take the sweetest possible time doing it?

Offices are built in a way that ENCOURAGES procrastination. The amount of time I waste at work is mind-boggling. Cumulatively, I must have spent WEEKS of my life refreshing Reddit or watching movie trailers (mostly for terrible movies I have no intention of seeing).

My grandfather would not recognize my office as a place of work. He would call it what it is: a playground with photocopiers. He was a real man. He ran a printing press and killed Nazis. What the fuck are we?