Comedian Luke McGregor On Success And How We’re Doing Failure Wrong

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re looking to get ahead in, it can often feel like the space between where you are and where you want to be is far too large to bridge. Making mistakes and learning is all part of the game, but what if you could bypass some of that with advice from people who are currently killing it in their respective field? We speak with goal-kicking young people to pass on their nuggets of knowledge around what success is and what they wish they knew earlier.

Luke McGregor doesn’t really fit the stereotype of a successful young comedian. He’s not particularly boisterous and he definitely isn’t the loudest person in the room. Since starting his career in comedy some years ago though, he’s quickly become a huge name in the Australian comedy scene, having won prestigious awards, sold out comedy festivals and starred in the ABC’s hit show Utopia (also starring comedy legends Kitty Flannagan and Rob Sitch).

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A lot of people probably recognise Luke from his docu-series Luke Warm Sexa show that took an embarrassingly honest, personal, and of course, humorous look at all things sexual. It was met with fantastic reviews and a garnered the comedian a big following outside the local comedy world. It showed Luke to be what he really is; an atypical comedian with a big smile, a lot of humility, and a unique warmth.

“I think the most important thing is to view failure as being something separate from your view of yourself.”

His new show Rosehaven, in which Luke writes and stars (with the incredibly talented Celia Pacquola), premieres tonight  on the ABC. It centres around best mates Daniel and Emma who, after their own personal and professional misgivings, return to their hometown in Tasmania to start again. It’s a show that deals with pitfalls and triumphs, so it seems fitting then to ask this accomplished comedian what he makes of his own success, and how he got there.

Tell us a little bit about who you are, and what you do

My name is Luke McGregor and I am a full time… comedian (still feels weird referring to myself like that). I’m in a TV show called Rosehaven that I co-wrote with the very brilliant Celia Pacquola. Rosehaven premieres October 12, 9pm on ABC. If you read this in the year 2020 it’s hopefully up to its fifth season.

What’s the one piece of career advice you wish you’d given yourself at a younger age?

 Pursue what you like, not what you think will make life ‘safe’. 

What is your definition of personal success?

I’m not really sure how to word this, but here goes: feeling like you’ve truly been able to express yourself – that something you’ve done has drawn upon your best self.

Can you clue us in to some of the things that drive your ambition? 

I like making people laugh, so everything I do is linked to that. When I go in search of bigger opportunities (e.g. writing a TV show that hopefully people like) it’s mostly about making more people laugh. I guess I just want to see how large a percentage of Earth’s population I can make laugh while I’m here – in between playing a lot of videogames.

How have you coped with professional setbacks?

I think failure is a necessary part of growing, so I’m becoming more and more OK with it (it still sucks). Testing new stand up material usually means bombing in front of multiple audiences before you get it right. Again, I’m not sure how to word this – but I think the most important thing is to view failure as being something separate from your view of yourself. So no matter how much you fail – you never see yourself as a failure, you see yourself as a winner who is currently failing but will eventually win – especially if you’re playing a game like Dark Souls (apologies that’s an obscure video game reference that not everyone is going to get, I play a lot of video games…).

Esther is a freelance writer, editor, publicist, content maker and dog patter. She has written for Interview Magazine, New York Press, The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, and local titles Broadsheet, Beat and Tone Deaf. Please tag her in photos of dogs @esthersaurus