Making Humor a Safe BET

humor is power laughter Jun 22, 2012

One of my best friends sent me a hysterical joke via email this morning. I read it very first thing this morning. I laughed so hard I almost woke all of the sleeping people in my home up!

What is this joke?

Well, here’s the thing. I’m not going to tell you it. It just wouldn’t be a good idea.  If we were together in person, and I had a better sense of who you are and what might make you laugh, I might share it with you.

But right now, in the cold, vast anonymity of the internet, it’s not a good idea.

Understanding Humor: The Power of Bond

There are some types of humor that – if they’re going to work – depend upon the person telling the joke having a common experience or worldview with the person hearing the joke. This shared set of experiences or perspective provides a type of bond which makes it more likely that the two of you will find the same sort of thing funny.

Other people who don’t have the same experiences or worldview as you may not find your humor funny at all. They may find it upsetting, or even offensive.  My background is in nursing, and over the course of my career, I’ve laughed with my colleagues countless times over things most people don’t find funny at all – including snot, vomit, and lots of bodily fluids!

If you’re worried about whether your humor will be well received in a given situation, make sure to check your bond with the person or people you’re about to tell the joke or funny story to. Do you know them well enough to be sure they’ll find this humor hysterical (and not upsetting!)? Do they have the same experiences or worldview that you do? Then go ahead and give the humor a shot.  There’s no guarantee they’re going to laugh – but the odds are in your favor.

What happens if you don’t know your audience? It’s always better to err on the side of caution in this case.  Luckily, there’s lots of humor you can use that has more universal appeal. Using this humor can help you strengthen and build your relationship with your listener. As you get to know them better, you’ll gain a better sense of who they are and what makes them laugh. Your bond will be stronger!

Here’s a joke to get you started:

Why shouldn’t you write with a broken pencil?

Because it’s pointless!

Have a great day, everybody!


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