Free Essay

Humor in Management

In: Business and Management

Submitted By gogicha1
Words 4043
Pages 17
David Gogichaishvili
Graduate Student, School of Telecommunications, Ohio University
Independent Study with WILL HOYT on “Humor in Management”
Spring 2002


This literature review on humor in management explores the issues of effectiveness of humor in the workplace. The primary focus is in management processes. Humorous managers are more effective, so to say. But there are some techniques and tips for turning your humor into managerial success. Not every type of humor can be appropriate.

The “What” section of this study deals with a general background about humor. Questions like why we should use humor, whether we should use it at all, etc. will be answered in the “Why” section of this paper. And finally, the “How” section will explore some basic rules on how to use humor in the workplace appropriately. There will be some suggestions even for managers who lack a sense of humor.

So, enjoy and remember the most important aspect of humor in the workplace: Your employees should laugh with you, not at you!


Humor is a quintessentially social phenomenon, since every joke requires both a teller and an audience. A sense of humor is a different and positive perspective on events and things. It can be utilized as an instrument to develop an atmosphere that is conductive to motivation. Laughter itself has physical, emotional, and moral benefits. Humorous people tend to be more adaptive, more capable of handling stress, more intelligent and more analytical. They are also more open, articulate, and optimistic. A survey conducted among Fortune 500 Company executives revealed that a sense of humor is the third most important factor needed to succeed in business.

A sense of humor is nothing more than a different perspective, a more positive spin on things. This study will examine how humor can be a strong managerial tool. Does this mean that we all suddenly are to become stand-up comedians, starting every day with “Did’ja hear the one about?...” Certainly not. The goal is to turn into a manager we all would like to work for, the one that sees victory when everyone else sees only defeat; the one wise enough to know that we learn so much more from our human failures than from our public successes. The following is a perfect example: A newly hired sales representative lost a $5 million dollar account! The following morning he walked into his boss’ office with a plain white envelope. The boss looked at the envelope and said: “What’s this?” The young man said: “It’s my resignation; I wanted to save you the stress of having to fire me”. “Fire you?” said the boss, “we just spent $5 million training you!” This story, true by the way, clearly shows the attitude we’re going for here – a perfect example of a sense of humor.

A true sense of humor – that sense of irony, that wisdom to recognize the insane in the presence of apparent reason, that ability to really let go and laugh hysterically – is uniquely human. Man is the only animal who can laugh, perhaps because he is also the only animal that is aware of his mortality. Now, there might be many people arguing that other animals laugh too. I would reply that my dog, for example, has a wicked sense of humor; but to my knowledge, has never actually laughed, at least not out loud. Also, I would warn scientists, who insist that apes, chimps, and gorillas have been known to cut up when exposed to pleasant physical stimuli, that tickling a lowland gorilla to watch him chuckle is NOT advisable pending further research!

Let us all agree that the man is the only animal who can laugh. It is therefore imperative that encouraging frequent laughter, primarily at one’s own expense, can be the most humanizing thing any of us ever do in the workplace.

The expression “laughter is the best medicine” has a genuine basis. Medical experts tell us that hearty laughter can stimulate and intensify the activity of catecholamines -- hormones which cause the body’s own painkilling endorphins to be released into the bloodstream. Laughter lowers the blood pressure, relieves tension, improves blood flow, and eases ailments of the digestive and intestinal tracts.

Before we go to “why” and “how” sections, it would be beneficial if we know some more statistics about humor. Qualities of a good mother? 61% say a sense of humor; most important quality in a spouse or significant other? Sense of humor was listed second; 61% of men and 57% of women laugh at least once an hour at work; do we work with fun people? 81% say yes; in our homes, do we share jokes or make each other laugh? 81% say often or very often; And before the election a sample of 1303 adults were asked which presidential candidate they thought had a better sense of humor—34% said Al Gore, 48% said George W. Bush.

Also, talking about humor, it is interesting to know a standard dictionary definition of it: “that quality in a happening, an action, a situation, or an expression of ideas which appeals to a sense of the ludicrous or absurdly incongruous; comic or amusing quality”. It is also of a great interest to compare this one with some other definitions, such as: “Humor is the experience of incongruity”; “Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility”; “The joy of getting it, experiencing the forbidden, getting away with something”.

As it was mentioned above, humor can ease tension at work, stimulate creative thinking, promote fellowship among employees, and make a more pleasant workplace. Humor can also be a negotiation facilitator, a coping mechanism, a communication facilitator, a cognitive tool, a creative force, a survival device, a motivator and much more. And at this point we are ready to explore the issues related to why we should use humor in the workplace and how.

Experts agree that humor, when used in context, is more than just a morale-boosting gimmick to grab audience attention. It is a powerful communications and learning tool that effectively illustrates a salient point. Humor can effectively disarm the reader and break down emotional barriers for improved comprehension of your message. Plus, they won't forget it. Left brain messaging ensures both cognitive and emotional understanding.
Is humor effective in any work culture? Absolutely. People not only want to laugh, they need it. It's a natural and healthy human requirement. Humor is sought out, posted on bulletin boards, and sent to colleagues. And it helps alleviate stress, especially during change and transition.

The effect of humor in physiological, cognitive, and affective responses and on the communication process suggests that humor may shape the climate and informal social relations at work. Humor has also been cited as a possible source of psychic rewards, as well as a way to relieve frustration, alleviate boredom, and facilitate information transfer at work.

The significance of humor as a characteristic of the work environment appears to center on the positive role humor plays in affecting the mood at work and the communication channels within the organization. In addition to the numerous formal mechanisms for motivating behavior, leaders (managers) can rely on more subtle and informal mechanisms such as humor. Studies have shown that regardless of gender, positive humor would enhance leadership behavior and effectiveness.
So, the question is now, why in the workplace? Of course in the workplace. What is a better place to use humor? We have been conditioned by our teachers, parents, etc. that the workplace is the most serious place we can ever go. It’s a place where important, often serious, business is run. It’s a place where empires are built, etc. But at the same time, it’s a place where human beings – fallible ones – spend a good portion of their working hours. It is a place where much time is spent in tedium, in conflict, in challenge, in fear and in accomplishment. Now, can you think of a better place for a sense of humor?

No one is suggesting that everything in life is meant to be made light of on a regular basis. As mature adults we are expected to take our jobs, our relationships, and our value systems seriously. But perhaps the real reason man was blessed as the only creature who can laugh is because maybe we were never, ever intended to take ourselves seriously. Nobody ever said it better than Oscar Wilde: “Life is too important be taken seriously!” As managers, we should be broadening our perspectives, opening our minds, and lightening up our lives and lives of everyone we meet. Laughter is just our way of saying “thank you”.

Using an appropriate humor in the workplace will help create a positive environment, which in turn, will enhance productivity. We, as managers, should realize that a sense of humor is deeper than laughter and more satisfactory than comedy, and delivers greater rewards than merely being entertaining. A sense of humor sees the fun in every day experiences. It is more important to have fun rather than to be funny.
Humor in the workplace is NOT joke telling, inefficient use of time, disregard for respect or authority, disregard of the seriousness of the business you are in. It is rather the realization of the value of laughter to physical and mental health; it’s about being OK to laugh and allow laughter as the natural humor that occurs daily around us in our business; it’s about reduced tension and stress, increased efficiency, attendance and retention; and it’s about dangers of inappropriate humor, such as sexist or racist humor. Jimmy Buffet sings in his song:
“Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes;
Nothing remains the same,
With all of our running, and all of our cunning,
If we could not laugh, we would all go insane!”
Our professional lives are changing at an incredible rate of speed. We think we are out in front, only to seemingly fall hopelessly behind. Laughter is our life preserver!

You, as a manager, are not aware of humor when it’s part of the normal flow and internchange. But there are times, when you come to a situation or feel a situation begin to develop where you think, “I have to change this” and you consciously decide that the right way to diffuse it is to crack a joke.

Not only does humor help create a better working atmosphere, but it also establishes a constructive climate for negotiations. In meetings where tension is building up and the sense of opposition greater than the issue demands, then humor is often the best way to puncture that. It can allow both sides to realize they are getting overconcerned about something quite trivial. They can feel foolish. They can join in the laughter. And you can smother the situation that way. Comedian John Cleese explained the persuasive power of humor in negotiation: “If I can get you to laugh with me, you like me better, which makes you more open to my ideas. And if I can persuade you to laugh at a particular point I make, by laughing at it, you acknowledge its truth. It’s no coincidence that the man I know who always has the best stock of new jokes is not a comedian, but a salesman”.

Therefore, using humor in negotiations is good because it’s generally unexpected. If people are all set, considering their affairs and their PR-polished phrases, an injection of humor brings an element of surprise to the situation. And it certainly makes it more difficult for people to plod on with their rehearsed arguments.

Also, to answer the question “why humor in the workplace” it should be noted that humor has some other benefits as well. The skillful and appropriate use of humor demonstrates that:
--You have self-confidence
-- You feel in control of the situation
-- You are comfortable with yourself.
There are tons of other rewards that humor can bring you, as a manager. To mention some of them:
Humor bonds teams. It is effective in establishing the sense of group identity and togetherness that welds a collection of individuals into a team. It also helps break down the sense of distance that occurs naturally between managers and those they supervise, which in turn, enhances the trust. The bosses who don’t make the effort to put themselves into humor/trust circle are either arrogant/competent or benevolent/incompetent.
Humor conveys authority. The wise use of humor offers an excellent way to demonstrate self-confidence. When you laugh at your own weaknesses, it makes others feel that your shortcomings cannot really be very serious faults. Self-effacing humor defuses potential areas of criticism, making it harder for people to find fault with you and easier for them to agree with you.
Humor reduces stress. As we mentioned while speaking about some medical aspects of humor, it stimulates the release of endorphins, the painkilling chemicals in the brain similar to morphine. In his book “Anatomy of an Illness”, Norman Cousins wrote that ten minutes of laughter “has the same anesthetic effect of at least two hours of pain-free sleep”.
Humor helps us keep problems in perspective. Humor is a great way not only for looking at reality, but also of dealing with it. In short, laughter keeps you from moping, helps you start hoping, and leads you toward coping!

Among other benefits that humor can bring you, as a manager, are enhancing your image, increasing your “likability” factor, increasing your problem-solving/decision making skills, promoting your business and profession, defusing hostility and dealing with confrontation, sell your ideas/products more easily, enjoying your job more, raising your level of happiness and much, much more…

So, is the question “why should we encourage using humor in the workplace?” answered? Yes, it is!


Managers tend to think that engaging in humor at the risk of being perceived as “silly” is dangerous work behavior. These are typically the managers who lack the natural sense of humor. An alternative for such managers is to infuse the work environment with humor and levity by drawing it out of the group of employees. Before getting to discussion of how even managers who lack the natural ability to be humorous can employ humor for benefits, we will concentrate on some risks concerning humor in the workplace. So, the question now becomes “ok, humor’s good, but how should I use it?”

As anxious as we may be to add laughter and humor to our bag of managerial tricks, it is wise to take time to consider the “rules of the game”.

1.Rule number one is that in order to be really effective, you should direct jokes at yourself and your own shortcomings as a fallible human being. It’s a safer route!

2.Rule number two deals with trust and fairness. People respond best to humor when it is delivered by those they trust the most. Again, it’s critical who jokes, when and in what situation. Don’t joke if your audience has little or no trust in you!

3.Rule number three has something to do with humor as a teaching tool. You should use humor whenever it is appropriate in any presentations or training sessions. But the most important thing to remember here is that you should never throw a joke into the presentation “just for the heck of it” unless it is appropriate and relevant to the subject matter. Otherwise your audience will remember the joke but forget the point you were trying to make. The joke or anecdote should amplify the point, not obliterate it!

4.Rule four deals with the concept that humor is intensely personal and using it in certain situations and with certain people could backfire. Humor, if used inappropriately, can have the effect of insult, or abuse. The reason is because humor cuts through to the “human” in all of us. Still, as important as it is to understand the intimacy of humor in the human dynamic, it is also generally the best way to diffuse uncomfortable situations. Therefore, trying a little gentle humor first might be the best weapon.

5.Rule number five reminds us of the old saying about politics and religion and goes back to rule number two. Jokes about the other parties’ belief systems may be perceived by them as attacking. This is dangerous territory. Therefore, know your audience before you proceed! And that goes also for comments about race, sex, and lifestyle. Political correctness may be annoying, even ludicrous, to most of us, but simple courtesy, respect and sensitivity to the feelings of others is an essential requirement for claiming our humanity.

Also, taking into account that people differ greatly in the way they perceive what is funny and what is not, regional, geographical, racial, sexual, and other issues should be considered. Your speeches, presentations, and what is most important, your humor on the East Coast should be different from the ones on East and very different from the ones in the South!

6. Rule number six deals with an actual strategy of using humor. Before you tell a joke, know exactly where the humor in the joke is coming from by analyzing “punch line”.

It can be inferred from the six rules, that you, as a manager, should NOT employ sarcastic or sexual humor, should NOT use humor as a “power play”, should NOT use humor to exclude others, should NOT use humor to undermine, belittle, or humiliate. It is so tempting to do sometimes, but it will be harmful!

Speaking on a global basis, employing humor in the work environment also includes humorous programs at work such as humorous newsletters, cartoons, creative bulletin boards, and even a humorous web site for your staff. Some games and contests are also a great help.

But, being more specific, how exactly should we use humor and what can be done if it doesn’t work? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there are no guarantees that your humor will work. So, there is some risk in this.

Managers tend to have some fears and/or fallacies concerning using humor. We tend to think that:
1.Humor is not appropriate in business. (we’re too busy for humor) WRONG! Being humorous does not mean that we are not taking our jobs seriously, but rather means that we are not taking OURSELVES seriously. Lighthearted does not mean frivolous. Humor simply helps us to remember that the real bottom line of all out business endeavors should be that PEOPLE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THINGS! Business is not exclusively about selling the products or supplying services, it’s about people!
2.Being humorous will undermine my authority. (People will think that I don’t know how to “take charge”) WRONG AGAIN! Humor, as it was discussed in “Why” section, strengthens you authority and aura of confidence and control. If you are controlling the tone of situation, you are the leader of that situation regardless of your title or job description.
3. Some people just aren’t funny and they shouldn’t try. (People won’t think I’m funny, I’ll “bomb”) WRONG AGAIN! People who aren’t naturally humorous have even more reason to work on developing their technique. Being funny is an ability, and a valuable one, that can be learned.

There are certain principles and techniques that can make humor work. First among the basic forms and devices of humor are the set up and punch line. Set up in some cases may be a few words, but it can take several sentences to get the audience to the punch line. There is a rhythm in humor, just as there is in music and one of the best combinations is called triple – essentially a set up, another set up and punch line.

For example: “OK, here’s my agenda for this morning. First, I’ll stack the good letters on the left and the complaint letters on the right. Then I’ll read the one good letter. Then I’ll look at the stack of two hundred complaints and jump out of the nearest window.”

“Milking a joke”, another common technique, is essentially an add-on method for getting your listeners on a “laugh roll”. You can build on a punch line by adding a second or even a third punch line relating to the original idea. We can use this technique to add on the above mentioned example: “My desk will be clear and it won’t be coffee break time – this could get me a raise and a promotion”. But remember be careful not to push it too far!

Since a concentration of this study is not techniques and exercises for managers who lack the natural sense of humor, we would recommend examining them in the literature provided in the bibliography. The literature on humor explores specific exercises of seeing a humor in situations like television commercials, ads or PR materials, famous people’s names, well-known songs, etc. There are also some exercises that will get you to turn clichés into potent one-liners.


This literature review on humor in management can be an introduction to a further research on this topic. The issues such as what humor is, why it is uniquely human, how important a sense of humor is for people, medical and psychological aspects of humor were discussed in the first, so called “What” section of this paper. The second, “Why” part dealt with significance of using humor in the workplace, managerial fallacies and fears, humor and motivation, and why humor helps create positive environment in the workplace. Finally, the third, last section of the paper, called “How”, explored some specific techniques and rules of how to use an APPROPRIATE humor in the workplace and what to avoid. A further examination of this issue, and/or developing a questionnaire for a sample of managers would be of great interest for research in this field.


1.Bob Ross. “Funny Business Solutions and the Art of Using Humor Constructively”. Arrowhead Publishing, San Diego, California, 1998.
2.Jean-Louis Barsoux. “Funny Business – Humor, Management and Business Culture”. Cassel publ., London, Great Britain, 1993.
3.Robert McGraw. “Learning to Laugh at Work – The Power of Humor in the Workplace”. Skillpath Publ., Mission, Kansas. 1995.
4.Linda Farell. “You’ve got to be kidding: Humor as a fundamental management tool”. Records Management Quarterly, 32 (3): 3-4, 6-8, 43, July 1998.
5.Frank Boruch; Monica Boruch. “Your work can be child’s play”. Human Recourses Magazine, 40 (8): 60-64, August 1995.
6.John Sullivan. “Are we having fun yet?” Project Management Network, 12 (8): 15, August 1998.
7.Gregory Thomas Hill. “Sex and gender differences in humor, creativity, and their correlations”. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences. Vol 62 (2-A), August 2001.
8.Wayne H Decker; Denise M Rotondo. “Relationships among gender, type of humor, and perceived leader effectiveness”. Journal of Managerial Issues, Pittsburg; Winter 2001.
9.Dawn T Robinson; Lynn Smith-Lovin. “Getting to laugh: Gender, status, and humor in task discussions”. University of North Carolina Press. Vol. 80, issue 1, September 01, 2001. Pp.123-158.
10.Bruce J Avolio; Jane M Howell; John J Sosik. “A funny thing happened on the way to the bottom line: Humor as a moderator of leadership style effects”. Academy of Management Journal, 42 (2): 219-227, April 1999.
11.“Lighten up: survival skills for people under pressure”. AMI/ American Media Incorporated, 1994.
Web sites: 12. Denise Forro; Leah Black. “How many librarians does it take to change a lightbulb?” Retrieved at April 14, 2002.

13.Regina Berreca. “Humor in the Workplace”. Retrieved at April 14, 2002.
14.Work Maxim -- “The Power of Humor”. Retrieved at April 14, 2002.
15.Jeff Justice. “Get Serious…About Humor”. Retrieved at April 14, 2002.
16.Dick Kirtley. “Laugh to live: Humor in the workplace”. Retrieved at April 14, 2002.

Similar Documents

Free Essay

The Humor of Vegetarienism

...Dr. Faulkner AP Language (4) 22 October 2012 The Humor of Vegetarianism In Laura Fraser’s passage, “Why I Stopped Being a Vegetarian,” the author compiles her personal motives and detachments on the controversial topic of vegetarianism. To make the essay more compelling, Fraser adds a touch of humor that transforms the writing into a light and whimsical piece. The passage, in turn, is positively impacted as the humor in Fraser’s essay relays an informal, personal tone that captures readers with the vernacular casualness of the style as well as appeals to a plethora of differentiating personality groups. Fraser’s humor in the essay also highlights the human’s mindset including the issues in our thought process and decision making. Laura Fraser’s sense of humor completely changes the mood of the piece, and after all, when does humor not change the mood? Fraser’s comical style contradicts the seriousness of the topic to the point where the reader feels as though they are reading a personal entry rather than a dry, dull political document on the views of vegetarianism. In many occurrences, the author will ask rhetorical questions to offset what the conflict is. For example, when discussing how far utilitarianism can stretch to compensate for the negative effects, Fraser asks herself, “Wont free range do?” (548). The author fully knew that even buying and consuming free range chickens opposed her views as a vegetarian, yet she attempted to justify herself with a......

Words: 1153 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Humor Therapy (Thesis Proposal)

...on the positive effects of humor and laughter on health and disease. Humor involves the ability to discover, express, or appreciate the comical or absurdly incongruous, to be amused by one’s own imperfections or the whimsical aspects of life, and to see the funny side of an otherwise serious situation. Humor in nursing is defined as helping the client “to perceive, appreciate, and express what is funny, amusing, or ludicrous in order to establish relationships, relieve tension, release anger, facilitate learning, or cope with a painful feeling” (McCloskey 2000). Many health care settings are now interested in providing humor as a caring skill and have recognized that “laughter is the best medicine.” “Humor rooms” are being created for clients and staff that are supplied with games, funny audiotapes and videotapes, humorous books, collections of cartoons, and so on. This study utilizes experimental type of research. This led the researchers to conduct a study to know the effects of humor therapy to patients after undergoing an invasive procedure. We would also want to identify therapeutic benefits of humor therapy to further improve patient care management. Purpose of the Study The purpose of the study is to determine the effects of humor therapy in patients after an invasive procedure in a selected health care facility in Zamboanga City. Significance of the Study Physiological research in the field of humor and laughter has......

Words: 4396 - Pages: 18

Premium Essay

Political Humor

...severe reprimand and was forced to issue an apology. Ethnic humor is no longer considered acceptable in America, especially when it is told by public officials. We can see that even twenty years ago it was considered distasteful. It is still found in folklore, but it has been pretty well banished from the airwaves and media. Ronald Reagan's Bombing Russia Joke In 1984, President Ronald Reagan was preparing for his weekly radio broadcast and, according to CBS, said the following, presumably while he was testing his microphone: My fellow Americans, I am pleased to announce I just signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes. He was just joking and probably never thought his words would be recorded, but discovered that the rest of the world didn't consider this "joke" humorous at all. The Polish News Agency PAP commented that Reagan had called the Polish leadership "a bunch of no good lousy bums" a couple of years earlier, while testing his microphone. The agency said that while Reagan didn't say these words formally, he knew they would be spread by news agencies. The Standard, a London paper called the joke "a serious embarrassment and Le Monde suggested psychologists would have to decide whether the statement was "an expression of a repressed desire or the exorcism of a dreaded phantom." Members of the British Labor Party described Reagan's remarks as "sick humor." The point, then, is that it is dangerous for......

Words: 703 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Humor Is a Sign of Intelligence

...Humorous a Sign of Intelligence In order to produce exceptional humor, one must be highly creative and original. For example, if one creates a joke, they use both halves of their brain. The right brain is used for the creativity, the funniness of the joke. Their left brain is used to actually formulate the joke so it can be presented to someone in a sensible manner. The mind must be swift to make the connections between a set line of jokes or a play on words. Humor is a sign of creative innovation. This innovation aspect applies to people who can see and relate the world around them in a logical and sensible manner, but also in an unusual way. This brings up the saying “thinking outside of the box.” The general audience a joke is told to is “inside the box” while the joke teller is “outside the box.” This is the reason as to why some of the audience may laugh at someone’s joke, but a few others don’t. You can have a sense of humor and a source of humor. Having a sense of humor means that you can understand and laugh at a joke (e.g. “a man’s third leg”). If one has a source of humor, they could create a joke or a pun. You can have a sense of humor but be well off without a source of humor because you can laugh at any joke spoken to you. It is quite unlikely to only have a source of humor because one would not know whether a joke is funny or not. Someone with a sense of humor is able to strive in a social environment better than one without. For example, someone could......

Words: 577 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Humor in Workplace

...Final Project Proposal This paper aims to explore how humor, a site of construction of gender identity and power relation, is employed by both males and females to negotiate their power relations and either subvert or confirm their gender roles. I believe this topic is of particular interest because though a number of studies have been conducted to examine the relation between gender practice and occupational practice, and ways of constructing gender roles via humor. Concentration is rarely deployed on humor use by males and females at workplace. This review is important because there is a growing number of female practitioners participating in different sectors and industries. They are frequently confronted with paradoxical situations of their gender role of feminity and their professional competence and leadership, usually tagged with masculinity. This paper will offer some insights to professional females about how they can resolve such paradoxes at their workplace through the employment of humor. Besides, this topic is of particular interest because it can be seen through the review of the body of literature, that the meaning and effect of humor, as a linguistic means can never be captured nicely. It can have different functions in different context, which is in accordance with the “ambiguity” and “polysemy”put forward by Tannen (1993), so this paper will probes into the fluidity and ambivalency of this linguistic means. Moreover, one big context in this......

Words: 1195 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

The Effects of Humor on Depression

...stress. Humor, as well, has been investigated for its potential to moderate the negative effects of stress, as well as directly influence negative affect. In addition to receiving attention from the research community, the benefit of humor in dealing with stress or difficult life circumstances has long been recognized by many. How often do we hear that “laughter is the best medicine,” and how frequently do others try to make us laugh in an attempt to cheer us up? And for many, it is quite common to notice an uplifted mood after observing or creating a humorous situation, such as watching a funny movie or participating in humorous dialogue. In fact, there is an empirical basis for this common recognition, as various types of humor have been shown to play a role in dealing with the physical and psychological effects of stress and psychological state directly. Effects of Humor 3 Stress can result from an individual misinterpreting ordinary events as threatening. According to Gillis (1992), “just as flawed thinking can produce negative affective responses to ordinary or even benign events, so should realistic cognitions serve to minimize distress in the face of negative or stressful circumstances” (p. 79). Perhaps humor functions to put things back into perspective by helping to distance oneself from the situation. Additionally, Thorson and Powell (1993) developed the Multidimensional Sense of Humor Scale (MSHS), assessing the following categories of humor: humor......

Words: 2963 - Pages: 12

Free Essay

The Dynamics of Relational Humor in Sitcoms

...The Dynamics of Relational Humor in Sitcoms Situational Comedy is one of the most dominating show genres on broadcast television today. Situational comedies are also referred to as sitcoms. These shows endear audiences with relatable circumstances that are exaggerated for humorous purposes. Humor being one of the main focuses of sitcoms, they often times depict a main character’s experiences in life. The audience experiences the trials and tribulations of life with the character, which is partly what causes a regular watcher to develop a “parasocial” relationship with them (“Research Report,” 2013). Upon examination of the development of the television sitcom, many of the humorous moments throughout the years have stemmed from embellished situations in character-to-character relationships. An analysis of these relationships, with emphasis on those of an intimate relationship has shown that today sexuality is often the source of primary humor. This sexuality in sitcoms is currently the most repetitive type of humor and is considered the standard, but such was not always the case. Early sitcoms focused on more traditional problems of marriage, of family affairs, and other every day social inter-relationship problems, and even had a different method of presentation, but throughout time they evolved to depend on the provocative behavior of the characters. The sexual problems they experience took the role of their every day problems; vulgar topics such as this became the......

Words: 4767 - Pages: 20

Premium Essay

The Application of Humor Appeal

...The Application of Humor Appeal Humor—the most popular appeal in Super Bowl TV commercials According to the figures on New York Times website, a statistic chart of ads appeal in Super bowl can be drawn as below. Chart 1 [pic] Chart 1 illustrates humor is always the most prevailing advertising appeal in Super Bowl during the last 26 years. In 1980s, about 40%-50% of ads chose to use humor as the advertisement appeal, but the percentage had boomed up to more than 80% in 2010, as twice as before. Though Americans’ heart were badly hurt by 9-11 attacks in 2001, which had lead the percentage of humor fell back to 40%, it was still used more than animals and celebrity appeal. Advantages of using humorous appeal Humor—the perfect appeal used on TV Super bowl is supposed to provide a great chance for varied companies to broadcast high-profile ads because super bowel can attract approximately 90 millions viewers on TV. Undoubtedly, TV is considered as the most suitable media platform to earn eyeball economy profit. In the book Humor in advertising: A comprehensive analysis, Madden and Weinberger (1984) and Weinberger and Spotts (1989) conduct advertising research among the top 150 agencies in U.S and UK about their views on the use of humor. TV was thought to be overwhelmingly best suitable for the use of humor. To sum up, TV commercials with humor appeal can help companies stand out from crowded pool of advertisements and ultimately maximize the benefits of TV...

Words: 1497 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Humor at Work

...Andrea Dimofte Reaction Paper #3 Humor at Work I believe that success takes many different shapes and forms, depending on each individual and his goals. For some, success comes from wealth, for others, perhaps from family, while some may view success in terms of their jobs. I believe that we are all in search of happiness, yet that there is not set equation to achieve such happiness. If for example, a person obtains all his happiness from his job, then he may see himself as successful. I believe that both carpe diem and deferred gratification are very important skills to have in order to reach success and happiness, whatever that means for the individual person. In terms of working at a job where you are fully happy, both play an extremely important role, and I believe that have a balance of both is the key to success. Working hard, concentrating and putting effort into your work are scientifically proven to lead to improved results. Your boss may be more likely to promote you if you have been working extremely hard, rather than if you have been taking days off to do other activities you enjoy, for example traveling. Hence, deferred gratification, resisting the temptation for instant reward and waiting for long-term benefits, is important and can lead to greater success, and eventually happiness. Yet, carpe diem is also of extreme importance because, I believe, it helps you in the long run as well. Living for the moment can be manifested in many different ways for......

Words: 652 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Anthropology of Humor Assignment 1

...Bryce Dale U0846264 A Survey of Jewish and African American Humor Ethnic humor is a widely used social mechanism that can help ethnic groups, whether brought together by religion or skin color, come to terms with their identity as well as negotiate shifting relationships with other groups of varying backgrounds. Multifaceted in nature, ethnic humor can be used both internally to ridicule members of one’s own society as well as externally, ridiculing oppressing parties. Either way, ethnic humor allows for oppressed societies to advance in the face of adversity. The two most prevalent cases of this are in the Black and Jewish communities. I will go on to explain the similarities, such as ancient origins of Jewish and African American humor, and the differences, like the opposite routes the respective styles took as they modernized in American culture. Perhaps the reason for two largely oppressed groups to incorporate humor into their culture is best explained by T. Cohen when he says, “An absurdity can be and example, a symbol, or even, say, an emblem of incomprehensibility. To laugh at absurdity can be an acceptance of its incomprehensibility.” African American humor has even converged with Jewish humor on many occasions, such as the musical The Jazz Singer, where Jews portray black characters, and even more recently with Jewish comedian Larry David portraying ethnic differences between Blacks and Jews on Curb Your Enthusiasm. We will now examine how two ethnicities with...

Words: 2297 - Pages: 10

Free Essay

A Pragmatic Analysis of English Humor in Jokes

...A Pragmatic Analysis of English Humor in jokes Abstract Looking back at the history, humorous language and behaviour had been treated as frivolous, ludicrous, and even evil. However, with the development of social civilization, people have gradually realized that humour actually is indispensable for our monotonous and regular life. Humour is embodied in operas, movies, writings, conversations, etc. And the most common type is humorous conversations. In many pragmatics books, lots of humorous conversations can be found, which are employed to analyze pragmatics. So we can see that humour and pragmatics are closely connected. However, papers about humorous language with a pragmatic view are comparatively only a few. Besides, most of them only focus on certain aspects of pragmatics, for example, cooperative principle. Based on the main parts of pragmatics, this paper does a comparatively detailed research on the humorous language in English conversations. At the beginning of the thesis, some popular definitions of humour are compared and a conclusion is made. Then humour is classified into four types and its functions in the social interaction are specified. Key Words: English Humour; Conversational implicature; Violation; Humorous effects 摘 要 回望历史,幽默的语言和行为都被视为琐屑无聊,很可笑,和甚至邪恶。然而,随着社会文明的发展,人们逐渐认识幽默实际上是为我们的单调和定期生活不可或缺。幽默被体现在歌剧、 电影、 文字、 对话等。最常见的类型是幽默的交谈。 ......

Words: 5553 - Pages: 23

Premium Essay

Case Study-Humor

...Persuasion in Advertising: The Effects of Humor, Threat Intensity, and Issue Involvement Hye Jin Yoon Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, USA Spencer F. Tinkham University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA 2010) or ads that ridicule nonusers of the brand (Voss 2009), but these studies researched “humor types” and should be distinguished from humor effects studies in threat persuasion ads. By looking into both the humor and threat persuasion literature, we set out to understand how humorous threat persuasion works in advertising and for whom it may be most effective. Threat persuasion, otherwise known as fear appeal in advertising, deals with critical issues that might have negative consequences for the consumer or the public (e.g., health and environmental issues) (Freimuth et al. 1990). In the ad, threatening information presents the problem, and attitudinal or behavioral suggestions are given as solutions. Threat information is valuable in that it can help protect us from harm but is negative in valence and out of the ordinary in our daily lives. Such substantive yet negative and out-of-the-ordinary information is known to be unpleasant and cognitively arduous to process (e.g., Rozin and Royzman 2001; Schimmack 2005). When humor accompanies threat information, it can function as a buffer. By providing a positive surface cue that attenuates the negative thoughts and emotions and facilitates processing, humor can make a threat persuasion ad......

Words: 10093 - Pages: 41

Free Essay

Humor Outline sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide." Humor is a tool that makes people laugh. Humor describes the benefits of how humor helps people in situations or lifestyle. II. Thesis: Humor has interesting healing powers that enable us to reduce stress, to spread happiness, and to combat fear. Body I. Main Point: One benefit of humor is that humor reduces stress A. People who laughs enormously on a regular basis can have lower standing blood pressure than the average person. When people have a good laugh, the blood pressure increases but then returns back to normal. When watching TV, a movie, or even a comedian, there is comedy that excites people to burst out laughter. B. Health and wellness. Integral Research Center, from quotes “Laughter is the best medicine.” When laughter is shared, it brings people together and increases happiness. This free medicine is easy to use and uses excitement. II. Main Point: Another benefit of humor is that humor spreads happiness. A. Humor changes one’s perspective of happiness. Humor brings balance. Laughter creates distance, between what you fear. B. The key to being happy is by having happy people around you. When coping with people, they have a sense of humor, and they encourage other people to be happy. III. Main Point: The last benefit of humor is that humor combats......

Words: 450 - Pages: 2

Free Essay


...Though humor can often be a welcome addition to many situations, using humor at work can often lead to unwanted outcomes. With the introduction of different genders in the workforce we have to take into consideration that different types of people appreciate different types of humor. With that in mind men and women respond differently to humor. Using the wrong style with the wrong people can have less than productive results. While men seem to appreciate a self-enhancing style of humor and women finding an affiliative style more to their liking. Humor with sexual undertones can lead to conflict and division of groups. These types of humor can be offensive and should be avoided in the workplace. While the use of humor can be a good thing it often can be a double edged sword mainly for the way others perceive it causing a misinterpretation. Using the wrong type of humor can have adverse effects, with people having different views resulting in less than proactive results. Misunderstanding of humor can materialize feelings of discontent, alienation, inferiority, and anger. Most times it is better to avoid the use of aggressive humor as it can make others feel intimidated and cause competition between employees. To effectively use humor in the work place is possible but efforts must be taken to provide a comfortable platform. Using the correct types of humor and reading the situation and audience to select the proper humor style to use can be the largest challenge. The OHM......

Words: 366 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Humor and Dissent

...1.In the Us, and other democracies, it is typical for people to joke about different political issues, disagreements that they may have with another person. They may poke fun at friends and family, or themselves (by using disparagement humor) as well. In the Us, and other democracies, it is typical to use humor as a stress reliever and as an ice breaker to meet new people. In autocratic regimes, like Egypt, citizens tend to joke about political issues also.Egyptian citizens also use jokes as a form of tension relief. However, it does not appear that Egyptian citizens joke about people they like or about themselves. 2 .When citizens in Egypt joked about Mubarak through his regime, they did so to relieve tension.Some Egyptian citizens may have used jokes to show that they were not afraid of Mubarak, and by telling these jokes, they were showing that they (Egyptian citizens), were not afraid to make it known that they did not approve of Mubarak’s regime. 3. Disadvantages of using these types of jokes about Mubarak include the possibility of losing friends. If one Egyptian citizen was against Mubarak's regime, and joked about it to another friend who thought Mubarak was a wonderful person, there could be a problem. Also a second disadvantage could be the fact that they could be killed for what they believe in. 4.Jokes that were told about Mubarak portrayed him to be a violent individual (which he was). Also the jokes told presented Mubarak to......

Words: 493 - Pages: 2