The Marketing Word | Differentiation Marketing

Funny vs. Mean

My friend Bob Burg has a post on his blog (burg.com)that got me thinking (as he usually does) on using foul language and mean humor in speaking, blog posts, on social media sites, etc. My language is not pure so I can't comment on that....  (my mother did teach me better, I just didn't listen). I did have some thoughts on using humor.  I worked (briefly) as a stand up comic and I can tell you a lot of stuff that DOESN'T work when it comes to humor.  But I'll save that for a longer post.  These are just some quick thoughts:

Humor is very tricky -- it's not only extremely subjective but if your timing is off, it just doesn't work.  What makes something funny is the revealed truth within the statement -- that's why the half-apology "just kidding" after a stinging remark doesn't begin to mitigate what was said.  You can poke fun at yourself, but as a speaker you have to be careful not to undermine your standing as an expert.
You can also poke fun at a situation.  This is about the safest way to go, since the revealed truth doesn't "hurt" anyone.  The beautiful thing about humor is that it can reveal a shared experience (we all know what it's like to ALWAYS choose the slowest checkout line) that helps the audience bond with you as the speaker and with each other.

Humor is very tricky -- it's not only extremely subjective but if your timing is off, it just doesn't work.  What makes something funny is the revealed truth within the statement -- that's why the half-apology "just kidding" after a stinging remark doesn't begin to mitigate what was said.

You can poke fun at yourself, but as a speaker you have to be careful not to undermine your standing as an expert.  You can also poke fun at a situation.  This is about the safest way to go, since the revealed truth doesn't "hurt" anyone.  The beautiful thing about humor is that it can reveal a shared experience (we all know what it's like to ALWAYS choose the slowest checkout line) that helps the audience bond with you as the speaker and with each other.

There's a huge difference between club humor and humor intended for general audiences.  There's also a matter of how you want to be known or your "brand".   I don't work with people if I need to walk on eggshells around them.  Part of my "brand" is that I tell it like it is.  (I had to make it part of my brand -- I don't have enough filters between my brain and my mouth.)  Can you use strong language and weird humor?  Yes.  Just know that it will affect who you work with and therefore your earning power.

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1 comment

  • Tara Jacobsen · 01/28/2011 at 4:12 am

    It seems that I may be a speaker like you! I have on my marketing page and my materials that I go 100 miles an hour and have a “tell it like it is style”. I figure that covers me, if someone is hiring me they SHOULD know that it I am not a Madison Avenue, three piece suit kind of gal.

    That having been said, I can always tell the people who I can pick on without hurting feelings and try to stay away from anyone who seems like they could get a little bent from me talking to them…:)

    Great post!

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