Tech comedians are poking fun at their employers, drawing big followings


Alexis Gay quit her job in tech to pursue comedy full-time amid the Covid-10 pandemic.Images courtesy of Alexis Gay

When Alexis Gay had to present second quarter results to her team on a Zoom video call, she sat down and wondered how she could do it. She wanted be transparent but she also wanted to be encouraging to her teammates who had worked so hard through unprecedented circumstances.

The second quarter of 2020 was one of the worst in years for many tech companies, as the Covid-19 pandemic sent the economy into a tailspin. As a senior manager at San Francisco-based digital company Patreon, Gay knew colleagues were still learning how to work remotely while the country was in crisis.

While rehearsing what she’d said, she couldn’t help but laugh.

Gay grew up wanting to be an actor, but found herself seven years into a tech job where she fully leaned into the industry’s hustle culture. And now, she found herself trying to do it with a straight face during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.

Before her meeting, she made a satirical video depicting how she’d approach a team.

“This is a learning quarter,” she said as she looked to the side of camera as if trying to convince herself of what she was saying. “These are unprecedented times,” she said in another cut. “But the team really dug deep!” she said in another cut, as if trying to encourage her team.

Her video immediately got tens of thousands of likes across various social media platforms. “I was tapping into that idea of like, ‘what are we going to say about Q2?” She laughed. 

Gay is one of several tech workers leaning on comedy to poke fun at their workplaces, where the quirks and qualms of employers grew more pronounced amid the pandemic. It’s the latest spin on a recent trend, where employees offer first-person accounts chronicling the dystopian nature of Silicon Valley work-life.

Often using quick-take comedic videos, workers are poking fun at recruiting strategies, diversity pledges and the industry’s homogenous makeup. Some have even begun making money from their followings, many of whom are millennials facing high rates of