PROVO, Utah – Jul 19, 2022 – Not everyone would take being called “funny guy” as a compliment, but Michael Gibbs isn’t everyone. He took the moniker given to him by a classmate and plastered it on his LinkedIn and résumé. His sense of humor has helped Gibbs, now a senior in the strategic management program at the BYU Marriott School of Business, find connections between the genres of comedy and strategy.
“A guy in one of my classes referred to me as ‘the funny guy’ because he couldn’t remember my name,” says Gibbs. “I don’t know if that title would be the best if I weren’t a self-professed comedian, but I am, so I was flattered.”
Gibbs, a native of Denver, has come a long way since high school when he was too nervous to audition for the school’s comedy club. Now he’s one of the leaders of BYU’s stand-up comedy group, Humor U. “I wanted to try comedy, so I went all in,” he says. Club members meet every week to write and rehearse their sketches.
As he now moves into unlikely territory as a comedian and strategist—a comedic strategist or a strategic comedian, he quips—Gibbs has noticed several connections between stand-up and strategy. “Comedy is all about observing things that most people don’t see and then connecting them,” he says. He explains that most verbal humor is the result of overlapping worlds, where two things that appear seemingly disconnected come together.
“I make associations that people can resonate with, and those links are what make everyday situations funny,” Gibbs says. “In that way, comedy helps me a lot as a strategist because I can observe and connect different situations to help companies find solutions to problems.”
One of Gibbs’ favorite parts of the strategy program is how much the people around him push him to think outside the box when searching for solutions. “Many of the classmates and professors whom I’ve interacted with have helped me see different problems and solutions I wouldn’t have considered,” he says. “That’s something I love about the program, and yes, I am biased.”
Those connections between strategy and stand-up are part of what drew Gibbs to strategic management. “Strategy just fits my style,” remarks Gibbs. “I’ve always loved communicating with people and being in front of a crowd. I love solving problems, and I love helping other people find solutions to difficult situations.” For Gibbs, strategy caters to his personal skill set.
Comedy shows up in more than just the skills he uses in his major; sometimes business-related jokes sneak into Gibbs’ stand-up sketches. “I’ve done a little bit of strategy humor,” he says. “I performed stand-up at the strategy Christmas banquet last year, and I think my jokes passed muster.”
Other audiences that Gibbs enjoys performing for include his wife, family, and friends. “Whenever I try out a joke on my wife, she smirks and says, ‘You think you’re so funny,’ so that’s the audience I have to work with on a daily basis,” he says. “But if you asked my wife straight up if I’m funny, she would say yes and blink twice so you know she’s telling the truth.”
As Gibbs completes his final year at BYU Marriott, he hopes to continue finding ways to use comedy throughout his education and future career. Even though his comedic endeavors are only a side hustle, Gibbs can rest easy knowing his classmates, his wife, and the top of his résumé consider him a “funny guy.”
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Liesel Allen