Notes from Q3 discussion on "Funny Business: Using Humor To Thrive In The Professional World"

http://google.com/

Combined notes:

  • Humor in action in the workplace :Run photos of executives of firm through celebrity lookalike generator
  • Humor in advertising -- is it effective? more or less effective than negative ads? Negative advertising can work. Depends on the constituency.
  • Humor taps into things that already exist.
  • Best jokes show the unexpected or a reversal
  • Humor's effectiveness is highly contextual
  • Humor AT someone is much different than humor WITH someone
  • "Taking" jokes pointed at you. Are you cool or are you a tool? Often new employees are "put to the test" to see if they can take some light hearted rubbing when first on the job.
  • Why is it OK to make fun of your own group? E.g. Jews can tell Jewish jokes.
  • Why is it okay for everyone to make fun of "the man"? People don't get charged with hate speech for attaching rich white men.
  • Long, drawn-out jokes are most prone to bomb. Quick witty humor is best.
  • Humor that bombs creates some of the most excruciating and embarassing moments in our lives.
  • How transferrable are jokes and stories from one context to another, from one culture to another?
  • Are most good CEOs funny? Not that many. Better to be feared or loved?
  • Humor means Well-rounded; Well-rounded is usually not assciated with CEO
  • Perhaps the funniest people think enjoying life is most important, and perhaps the most successful CEOs don't enjoy life as much.
  • Humor is only secondarily correlated with sucess.
  • Korea has a pre-school for humor. Laughing clubs in India where people gather in park and start laughing at nothing.
  • It takes few muscles to smile than to scorn. Even fewer muscles to bitchslap someone!
  • Big companies are less funny than startups. More PC.
  • Kids laugh more and find more things funny, because humor is driven by the unexpected. They're encountering new things all the time.
  • "It's funny because it's true"
  • Locker-room humor still exists but in small groups
  • Making jokes in a meeting is taking a risk. Funny people are more likely to be risk takers.
  • Laughing is the only time when you are totally present.
  • In UK, a self-deprecating joke when first meeting someone can make the other person feel uncomfortable. Why is he trying to get so close to me, they make ask.
  • Europeans sometimes say Americans joke with everyone, so it's not all genuine.
  • French presentations never use humor.
  • 5 Minute Mogul
  • Funny people use good intuition -- can quickly size up a room or environment
  • If you have a resume and credibility it's easier to make jokes, because you're an accomplished person
  • Random jokes: what do you call a lesbian dinosaur? A lickalotapuss. This isn't making fun of lesbians as much as language.
  • How to be more funny? Be more real, more honest. Foster respect in the workplace. Set the tone from the top: humor is encouraged. Spend time around funny people.
  • Mean-spirited humor can work, especially if it taps into resentment (a la Valleywag). But it doesn't work if there isn't some feeling to tap (e.g. "Mother Theresa is an ignorant slut!")
  • Some people are safe targets for humor...often this is a sign of power
  • Humor has to be familiar, yet different
  • Humor is a gatekeeping device employed by many groups
  • Humor makes the workplace more interesting and fun
  • Humor can be an expression of power (E.g. the boss making people laugh at his jokes)
  • Transgression and taboo-breaking can be very funny
  • Equal opportunity offenders can get away with a lot that others cannot
  • Telling jokes and having a good sense of humor are not necessarily the same thing
  • Tim Taylor blog post


Thinking Questions Distributed Beforehand:
  • Why is humor important? In practical terms, what does it achieve?
  • Can we create a taxonomy of humor (slapstick, self-deprecation, irony, etc)?
  • Is someone funny or not, or can you "learn" humor?
  • The Delivery -- best practices for telling jokes
  • Situational humor -- when is humor appropriate and when can it cross the line?
  • How does the role of humor differ in different organizations?
  • How does the use of humor differ on the technical side vs. the sales/marketing side?
  • Why is business humor so underrepresented? Until Dilbert, there was not business humor comic strip, and even today, the only true business comedy is "The Office"
  • When do you use humor to defuse a tense situation?
  • Is being funny correlated with business success?
  • How can you be humorous and deal with political correctness?

The Taxonomy of Humor:
  • Slapstick
  • Self-deprecation
  • Irony
  • Wordplay
  • Parody
  • Satire
  • Absurdity
  • Surprise
  • Jokes
    • Knock-knock
    • Man walks into a bar
    • A priest, a rabbi, and an iman walk into a bar
    • Jokes that make fun of a particular group (blondes, the Polish, marketers, engineers, lawyers, accountants, etc.)

Ben Casnocha's blog post on Humor for the Businessperson

NPR Piece on humor in politics

Humor Power Blog


Menlo Park participants @ Trinity Ventures office Participant Biographies
Name
Email
URL
Ben Casnocha
ben (at) casnocha (dot) com
http://ben.casnocha.com
Chris Yeh
chris (at) chrisyeh (dot) com
http://www.chrisyeh.com
Olivier Marchand
olivier (at) comcate (dot) com
http://khoeaz.com/
Christopher Carfi
ccarfi (at) cerado (dot) com
http://haystack.cerado.com/profile/2
Justin Kromelow
justin (at) kromelow (dot) com
http://kiemtientrenmang123.com/
Dave Asprey
dave-pub (a t) asprey (dot) net
http://www.hotdave.com
Tom Cole
tom@trinityventures.com
http://consumingambitions.com
Jayne Lange
jayne.lange (at) gmail (dot) com
http://www.gamevui.biz
Justin Khoo
justin (at) advenix (dot) com
http://www.inoxphongson.vn
Scott Ennis
scott (dot) ennis (at) cushwake (dot) com
http://www.vinagames.net
Jackie Danicki
dynamist (at) gmail (dot) com
http://www.jackiedanicki.com


Bernard Moon
bernard.moon (at) gmail (dot) com
http://www.goingon.com/user/Bernard



Dale Edmondson
dedmondson (at) omm (dot) com
http://www.omm.com



Ben Choi
vuigame (at) gmail (dot) com




San Francisco @ 44 Montgomery Street in San Francisco Participant Biographies
Name
Email
URL
Ben Casnocha
ben (at) casnocha (dot) com
http://ben.casnocha.com
Kevin Barenblat
kb (at) spotdj (dot) com
http://spotdj.com
Tim Taylor
timothy.taylor (at) sbcglobal (dot) net
http://ttblogs.typepad.com
David Hecht
david (at) servepath (dot) com
http://www.ServePath.com
Catherine Hutton
catherine.hutton (at) bizworld (dot) org
http://www.bizworld.org
Jeff Kutash
kutash (at) sbcglobal (dot) net
http://seedfoundation.com
Jackie Danicki

http://www.jackiedanikci.com
Chris Heuer
chris (at) brainjams (dot) org
http://www.socialmediaclub.org
Kristie Wells
kristie (at) brainjams (dot) org
http://www.brainjams.org
Anne-Marie Fowler
anne-marie (at) seakay (dot) org

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