HUMOUR

DEFINITION

Humour

  1. A message whose ingenuity or verbal skill or incongruity has the power to evoke laughter
  2. The quality of being funny
  3. Put into a good mood


I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty funny guy – often the life and soul of the party, never dull, always entertaining, that’s me! I just love humour. It has almost got me into trouble so many times I have lost count, but still I keep on.

I’m not a joke teller, I can never remember them; I am more of a situational comedy sort of person, in that I listen to, or observe someone and make a funny quip about them, or the situation. I just see a lot of humour in what people do and say, but I wouldn’t do it if I thought it would upset them. In fact that would upset me more. How about you? Do you have a good sense of humour or are you more of a serious type? Maybe you don’t know any good jokes, maybe you don’t think you have a sense of humour? Let’s explore this together.

I don’t know how I became funny, but people laugh when I am humorous and I like it, because it means I can laugh as well. I don’t know if people take me less seriously than I would like because I never really thought about it until now. I like to mix deep humour with deep thinking! It keeps me grounded, and a little laughter goes a long way to making the world a happier place, don’t you think?

As someone who has spent most of their life in offices, I have to say that I think there isn’t enough humour in the world. People see their job as something they should be serious at, and only humorous outside work; or even worse, not humorous at all.

My father is one such good example. He spent his whole life being serious, even though, cloaked under all that seriousness was a keen glasgow sense of humour. He regularly chided me for being the office joker. “How do you expect to get on in life, if you can never be serious?” he used to demand; but there was one thing he missed, and it was that I was serious about my work. I always liked it, and always concentrated hard on it, but I could never understand what everyone else was doing! They spent their days moping around (sorry, being serious) never laughing, never sharing a joke, or if they did, it would always be restrained.

You see, we have this crazy system which seems to dictate that the higher up an organisation you go, the less humorous you become. My dad tells me that the reason is because people expect you to be serious; they don’t expect the leader of an organisation to be telling jokes.
“If I was always joking,” he told me, “they would never respect me.”
That struck a chord with me.

It’s all about appearances

“So if I want to get on in the world, I should start to look more serious and be less funny,” I asked him.
“Precisely.”
“How am I going to do this,” I thought? “I want to be taken more seriously at work, but because I am good at what I do, not because of the way I hold my lips together, never smiling, save for a slight nod to acknowledge anyone in an inferior position.” I wasn’t prepared to play this game.

I thought by just being my cheerful happy humorous self I could get on in the world, but it didn’t work like that. People saw it as a sign of weakness, a lack of sincerity, a lack of commitment, and exploited it at every opportunity. But I was committed to my job; I always put one hundred percent into everything I did. But whether they found my humour and joviality unsettling and wished they could be more laid back and still good at their job; or whether they just found it annoying, I will never know. But I started to notice more and more that I didn’t fit in.

I was doing fairly senior jobs and my colleagues were all “serious.” I think they wondered how I got the job if I was such a joker (on reflection, maybe I should have just kept my mouth shut, but I didn’t). Everyone else just got on with their job without a word. I couldn’t bear it. It was all so clinical. If we were going to spend nine or ten hours a day together, I sure as hell wasn’t going to sit around with my face tripping me all day.

“If you want to joke around go and be a comedian, but don’t do it here,” my boss said to me once. I looked around at all the office personnel and realised that not one of them looked like they were having a good time. 

Some of you may be thinking, “you’re not at work to have a good time, you are there for work.” But the way I see it, if you are going to be spending on average 45 years, 5 to 6 days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day (including travelling time) for 48 weeks of the year, you really should be having some fun. There should be laughter, there should be humour. After all, what is it we do as humans that is so serious we can’t take time for a bit of humour?

Bosses seem to forget we are spending nearly all our adult life working. The way I see it, if they want robots, they should employ them. Do not make a human behave like a machine just because you pay them a few pounds for their labour. Let them express themselves.

I do understand the need to maintain some level of composure when at work, just in case you think I was running around all the firms I worked for telling everyone jokes all the time, and making silly quips – I may like a laugh, but I’m not stupid.

I think my dad thought that being humorous meant being seen to be less intellectual, something that would never do if you wanted to climb the high echelons of business, something I never wanted to do. I was happy earning good money, enjoying myself at work and then moving onto my next contract. Very content, I would say. Although the people I worked for probably weren’t quite as content with my happy disposition.

So let’s talk about you now shall we? I think I’ve talked enough about myself, as usual! Let’s talk about the sort of person you are, the job you do, and the image you want to project to the world. Do you want to be taken seriously? Do you want people to listen to you? Do you want to get on in the world? Do you want to have a nice life? Then please stop pretending to be so serious.

Teachers, judges, lawyers, politicians, policemen, all have this seriousness about them that you know is a put on. You know that in reality they cannot be that serious. It is part of the costume. The same way people at work in an office are forced by their bosses to wear the “serious” costume. Please, if that’s you, take it off! What’s the worst thing that can happen to you? As they say: “lighten up,” you cannot be that serious all the time (although as we know, there are times when it is appropriate).

Life is all about enjoying living, and humour helps us to release tension by laughter. It also helps shine a light on the falsity of serious people through the clever use of wit and satire. It is good for people to laugh at themselves, and it helps with awareness. No, honestly! It does. If someone makes a witty remark about your “bossy” personality, you are more likely to pay attention to the message than if they shout it across the room and insult you. One thing I have learnt is that if a serious message needs saying, it can sometimes help to dress it up in humour, it lessens the blow and can conveys the message a lot more clearly and easily.

Stop pretending to be serious

I have met so many different people from all walks of life over the years, and I have to say that there is humour in everyone I have met. No matter what type of personality they had, each of them had the capacity for humour inside them – even my dad, who has been pretending to be serious his whole life.

We are born, we go to school, we work, we contribute to the world, we have children, we retire, we die. The end. We can make the decision to walk through life with a solemn face, or we could light it up with a smile and some humour, it really is a great characteristic we have developed over the years.

Remember, I am talking about inclusive humour here, where everybody laughs, even the person who may be on the receiving end; and above all, we need to learn to laugh at ourselves. We need to see how ridiculous we look sometimes. The things we say and even the clothes we wear.

If the animal kingdom has developed humour I’m sure they find us funny as well especially when we pretend we aren’t anything like them.

Let go of seriousness. Bring more humour to your life. If your place of work wants you to be a machine, tell them to find a machine who is as attractive as you, and walk out. Do your own thing. Do not let yourself be led by others, especially those that want you to conform to their idea of what work should be. Let’s bring comedy back to mainstream life instead of saving it for the professional comedians and the comedy festivals; and although some of you may not be as funny as others, it is better than spending your time pretending to be serious; trying to impress people with your “serious” facial expressions.

Just because you are a scientist, a chief executive, a politician or other “serious” person, doesn’t mean you have to behave like a robot who has a line of code that states:

  1. Keep face straight no moving of mouth or eyes.
  2. Goto 1

You never know, people may even start respecting you for actually being human. It’s really easy. Give it a go. You’ve got nothing to lose except that frown line across your forehead.


By alan Macmillan Orr

“The natural mind – waking up”

2009

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