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Humor vs. Terrorism

Three-and-a-half million people rallied throughout France on January 12, 2015 to show unity and to show support for freedom of expression in the face of fanaticism and terrorism. What triggered the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo office? Humor.

Humor?? Yes. Political satire. So are we now going to characterize humor as a weapon? Something to wield and fear? C’mon, we’re more mature than that. (Aren’t we??) (Perhaps we had better warn the editors of Mad Magazine to tread lightly. “What, me worry?”)

Humor, like any form of expression, has a huge range—from the silliness of Teletubbies for toddlers to the “dead seriousness” of sharp political satire. All forms of communication can be used for comfort and connection, and also for influence and intimidation. Yes, humor can be used as a weapon. But it’s not a weapon of mass destruction! It’s a weapon of mass embarrassment.

Satire is one of the more edgy—and often...

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Toys (Humor Challenge Day 22)

Toys aren't just for kids. De-stress! Play with your OWN toys!

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Catastrophize (Humor Challenge Day 21)

Exaggerate and catastrophize icky moments mirthfully until you can put your frustrations in their proper perspective.

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Fun with Siri (Humor Challenge Day 20)

Humor Challenge: You can use your phone for games and videos, but have you ever had a conversation WITH your phone? Hey, Siri!

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Visit a Comedy Club (Humor Challenge Day 19)

Visit a comedy club and experience psychological, physiological, and social benefits.

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Humor Attire (Humor Challenge Day 17)

Express your sense of humor through your attire and accessories!

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Become the Master of Your Remote! (Humor Challenge Day 18)

Numerous studies have been conducted where subjects watched humorous shows for a half hour or more and in study after study, researchers found, over periods of days or weeks (depending on the study) that the subjects experienced lower blood pressure, decreased cortisol, decreased blood sugar (in persons with diabetes), proteins angiotensin, and renin (high levels can lead to kidney disease), decreased muscle tension, and diminished pain.

So today’s humor challenge: become the master of your remote control! Watch 30 minutes of something funny on TV.

It’s enjoyable to watch funny shows when you happen to catch them by chance, but what we’re trying to create in this humor challenge is a habit. I want you to become strategic in the way you get your laughs. Humor by chance is entertaining and does have value. But humor by choice ramps up your benefits to a higher level.

I love Big Bang Theory and have watched the episodes so many times I know most of them by heart. I...

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Derailment (Humor Challenge Day 16)

One of the theories of humor is that it comes from incongruity or derailment. That moment of absurdity that occurs when your mind thinks your train of thought is heading one direction, and then suddenly goes another, triggers our brain to laugh.

Today’s humor challenge: Practice derailment by playing with aphorisms.

An aphorism is a short phrase that expresses a truth or wisdom. For instance, you’ve probably heard the following aphorisms:

  • The early bird catches the worm.
  • Crime doesn’t pay.
  • Too many cooks spoil the broth.
  • Fish and guests smell after 3 days.

One way to play with aphorisms is to take your list of phrases, cut them in half, and then mix them up to create new and funny phrases, like

  • The early bird doesn’t pay.
  • Crime catches the worm.
  • Fish and guests spoil the broth.
  • Too many cooks smell after 3 days.

Another way to play with derailment and incongruity is to take the first half of the aphorisms and then make up your own endings. A first grade...

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Moments of Mirth (Humor Challenge Day 15)

Here’s a great way to experience humor that doesn’t require you to go anywhere or do anything other than relax and… remember a past humorous memory or Moment of Mirth.

Today's humor challenge: Moments of Mirth.

We’ve all got stories that we share when we get together with friends or family—usually preceded by “Remember the time when…?” These stories usually grow and get even funnier over time.

I keep a journal and when I think of another Moment of Mirth (MOM) I jot it down. There’s an old Chinese proverb that says the palest of ink is better than the sharpest memory. (Especially MY memory!)

When feeling like I need a humor boost I pull out my MOM journal and laugh over an incident that might have otherwise been forgotten. Like when my son Adam, at 4-years old, hopped up into the barber chair and said to the barber, “Gimme a flat top.”

The barber saw the surprised look on my face and said to Adam, “Is that what...

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Voicemail (Humor Challenge Day 14)

I called my son, Adam, and I heard him respond, “Hello? Hello?”

“Adam, it’s mom,” I said.

“Hello? Your reception is terrible. Try moving to a better spot,” Adam said.

I walked to the other side of the room. “How’s that? Any better?”

“I can hardly hear you,” he said. “Try moving to a different spot.”

I walked to the other side of the room. “How’s that?” I said a little louder.

“I can barely hear you. Can you move around?”

I walked to a different spot. Now yelling, I said, “Can you hear me now?” And then I heard…

“This is Adam’s voicemail. Please leave your name and number and he’ll call you back.”


Today’s humor challenge: Leave something humorous on your outgoing voicemail message.

You can have fun AND give folks calling you a reason to smile. Over the years I’ve collected dozens and dozens of humorous outgoing...

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