Worth It! My Long Journey to Being Mildly Funny


No, this is not me.

I vividly remember when I realized that I have a hard time being funny.  A colleague and I were presenting to our sales team about the latest details of an application programming interface–not your typical humorous topic.

Fred had them rolling in the aisles with his witty comments. Feeling like I needed to follow suit, I also tried to be funny.  Not one of my lines got even a smirk. I am pretty sure the audience felt empathy for me, but all I felt was embarrassed and frustrated.

Then I got it… I am not Fred. I am never going to be funny like Fred. I have a chance at being funny like Lisa, if I stop worrying about being funny like other people. It’s life’s usual conundrum that the more we stress over something, the worse we do.

Fun is important in our work: to enhance communication, to ease a tense situation, or to create connection and camaraderie. So I have put a little effort into being able to be more humorous in my work.

Years later, I am still not the jokester in the group, but more often than not when I relax my inputs get a laugh, and I can actually tell a joke that gets a joyful response.  In addition, when I am not trying to be funny, but others laugh anyway, I can relax into the moment and enjoy it.

A few Reminders to help us feel the the funny in our workplace:

  • Everyone is different and I believe it really shows up in our sense of humor. Even as a kid I thought the Three Stooges were ridiculous, but just mentioning Steve Martin’s name brings a smile to my face. I am sure there are folks out there who think I nuts for not laughing at the Three Stooges–the joy of life is how different we all are. It doesn’t mean I’m bad when every person doesn’t smile at my funny lines, just different.
  • We can learn to be funny.  I have focused on telling jokes more effectively–like pausing before the punch line. It seems to be working.
  • Know that when we receive unintended laughter, it’s usually not meant to hurt us, it’s just the difference of styles mentioned above. I believe that we gain lots of points by being able to smile and relax into these situations.

What about you? Are you the natural humorist? Any tips for the rest of us? If not, is it important to you to be able to be funny? What have you done to come out of your shell?

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