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lunes, 29 de agosto de 2016

Comedy: a Professional’s Guide to Laughter in the Workplace

By Manuel-Angel-Oracle on Jul 15, 2016

I love making people laugh! There’s a certain joy in seeing someone smile or just let out a hearty belly laugh. That fact has led me to study comedy, to try and figure out what makes something funny, what engages people and results in laughter. There’s no answer to that question, but in my quest to discover how comedy and comedians work, I discovered some valuable lessons that have helped me succeed in my career.

Stand up is a Complicated Business

It’s one person against the entire room. When you’re in that position, you have to make sure that you have quality jokes, otherwise you’re going to get booed off the stage. From the anonymous amateurs to well-known celebrities like Louis C.K. or Jerry Seinfeld, they all workshop their material. That means testing it out on people, seeing their reaction, and asking them how they think you can improve. How can you leverage this in the business world? Before moving forward with a project or before making a big decision, you need an extra set of eyes, a second and maybe even a third opinion. And it’s not just asking for opinions, but it’s about asking for feedback and applying that feedback. Otherwise you could end up with a project that’s going to flop worse than a bad joke.

Know the Audience

The reason why there’s not a universal answer to the question: “What’s funny?” is because people have different experiences and different tastes. I love Rick & Morty, but I can see how someone that doesn’t have a fascination with sci-fi would find it boring. For a comic, the audience are they clients, and they are looking for a solution that makes them laugh. 

In the world of business, you have clients and stakeholders and before you can offer a solution you need to understand them. You don’t have to please everyone, just your audience and you can’t do that if you don’t know them. Yoga Hosers, the latest movie from Kevin Smith is getting some really bad reviews. When confronted, he said that the movie was not for critics, it was for the fans and they were laughing at screenings and that’s what mattered. Maybe someone thinks your solution for a client is not the best, but if the client is happy, you’ve done the right thing.

 Times Change

I Love Lucy is a classic in the world of television comedy. When I was trying to learn about comedy, I watched a couple of episodes and found it incredibly dull. This is probably because the show started airing in 1951 and comedic sensibilities have changed a lot since then. In business and in comedy, you have to learn to adapt and change with the times, otherwise you’ll be left behind. George Carlin was a standup comic for more than 40 years and its incredible how much his material changed from his debut in the 60s to his last shows in 2008. His adaptability allowed him to stay relevant for decades. In the world of business, we’ll get new technologies, new ways to work, new coworkers and a lot of innovation. Adapting will lead to success and resisting change can lead to becoming irrelevant.

Exceed Expectations

“Why did the chicken cross the road?” That joke is so old, everybody knows the punchline, and because of this, it doesn’t get laughs. Part of making people laugh is delivering something they did not see coming, something that exceeds their expectations. So, why did the chicken cross the road? Because there is power in movement. Not any particular movement. Not dance, although, also dance. Not athletics, although, also athletics. But, movement. That’s how Joseph Fink answered the question and it has a better chance of getting a chuckle than the same old tired answered. A client always expects to get what he or she asked for. You know what they don’t expect? You going the “Extra Mile”. Delivering something extra and going above the call of duty will make people remember you. It will get you a place in their hearts and minds. Always aim to exceed expectations, that’s the way to a good punchline and to business success.

In the end, I think the best comedy comes from the heart, from a place of passion and understanding. The same can be said about your career; if you’re passionate and love what you’re doing - you’re on the right track! Your professional success is going to bring a lot of smiles, most importantly to you and those you impact daily.

About the Author.

Manuel Angel is the Latin America Employer Branding Lead for Oracle. He loves tech, watching stand up on Netflix, and should finish his stand up set already. You can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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