Make Them Laugh
“If you’re going to tell people the truth, you had better make them laugh or they will kill you.”— George Bernard Shaw
It’s almost Valentine’s Day. If you haven’t gotten that special someone a box of Sweethearts®, you still have time. If you have an ex who just won’t bug off, you also have options. The San Antonio Zoo’s annual Cry Me a Cockroach Fundraiser is here to help. You can have a cockroach named after them and fed to a pack of hungry meerkats. For a bit extra, zookeepers will capture a video that you can email your old flame. The program has proved both clever and lucrative. For the past four years, the San Antonio Zoo has raised tens of thousands of dollars and generated a mountain of free publicity. Why? Because it’s funny and everyone needs a good laugh. Humor can pay off.
In 2021, I read Humor, Seriously by Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas. The authors made a strong case for humor in the workplace. “Remember,” they wrote. “The goal is not necessarily to tell jokes or even be funny—it’s to make more human connections during everyday moments, and to be more productive and effective (not to mention less bored) in the process.” Levity defuses tension and increases connection. Both lead to happier, more productive people. And humor makes for great marketing, too.
After reading this book, I made a commitment to bring more dad jokes to my work. Hard at work finalizing the second edition of Your First Home , we unleashed the puns. We even hired two local comedians to sprinkle jokes throughout for a few hundred bucks. Reviewers noticed.
Some things we learned along the way: You don’t have to be a comedian. And, you needn’t tell jokes. Just be playful. When it comes to humor, somewhere between a laugh and a groan is a grin. A grin is a win. Look to wordplay, puns, and a little self-deprecation as safe places to start.
Humor is subjective. What’s funny to me, may be offensive to you. As professionals, avoid jibes that poke fun at anyone’s identity. You can joke about politics without partisanship, parenting without gender tropes, and religion without Popes. Realtors® are fair game 100% of the time.
So try adding some wit to your work. Drag out a dad joke or two. Place a pun into your next thank-you note. Announce a funny anecdote. I realize it’s tough to inject levity into an inspection report that noted carcinogens in a property’s siding, but give yourself a break—you’re trying asbestos you can.
One question to ponder in your thinking time: How can I inject a little humor into my work?
Make an Impact!