Humor, Seriously | Jennifer Aaker

Summary of: Humor, Seriously: Why Humor Is a Secret Weapon in Business and Life (And how anyone can harness it. Even you.)
By: Jennifer Aaker


In ‘Humor, Seriously,’ author Jennifer Aaker explores the importance and impact of humor in our lives and workplaces. As people move through their 20s, laughter and humor tend to decrease significantly. This book reveals how humor can positively affect our physical and emotional health, improve our creativity and ability to connect with others, and even enhance our leadership skills. You’ll discover different styles of humor and learn how to become more approachable through it. Read on to explore the science behind laughter, understand comedy styles, and discover the tools and strategies to make humor a powerful force in your life and career.

Laugh More, Live Better

This book discusses the importance of humor in our lives and how we can learn to be funny even if we think we’re not. The lack of levity in our lives and workplaces is causing us to miss out on the benefits of laughter, which include improved physical and emotional health. Laughter is a skill that can be learned and developed over time and is like exercising, meditating, and having sex all at once. The book presents scientific evidence that supports the idea that laughter is the best medicine and encourages readers to bring more humor into their lives and their work.

Finding Your Sense of Humor

Discover Your Comedic Style and have Fun at Work

The journey to discovering your humor style begins with understanding the four types of humor – stand-ups, magnets, sweethearts, and snipers. Stand-ups use edgy humor and are thick-skinned, while magnets keep things positive and silly. Sweethearts use subtle teasing, and snipers are sarcastic and aggressive.

However, it’s crucial to know when to use these styles appropriately. Inappropriate humor can harm relationships, while using the right style can make people feel good and approachable. Thus, one should not stress out if they can’t figure out their comedic style.

The workplace can be a breeding ground for humor, leading to increased rapport and stress relief. Hence, exploring humor at work is essential, and it should stem naturally. Understanding how to infuse humor into the organization’s culture helps reduce workplace stress, encourage creativity, and create a welcoming environment.

Finding your comedic voice involves being authentic; humor in the workplace shouldn’t be forced. One can improve their sense of humor by finding the right people and community, being open, and being willing to learn and adapt.

Therefore, the bottom line is that everyone can leverage humor, but it begins with discovering their comedic style and knowing the appropriateness of its use.

The Art of Being Funny

The book reveals that humor is usually derived from the truth and absurdities of the world around us. The authors share insights from professionals who learned to tap into their own emotions to create moments of shared levity. They advise being cautious with anger and pain, but share what is contrasting or incongruent about oneself and life instead. By doing so, people can avoid being the unapproachable big boss and become a more relatable human being. With these tips, the book teaches readers how to master the art of being funny.

Mastering Humor

Discover how to enhance humor through exaggeration, specificity, analogies, and the rule of three with insights from professional improvisers and coaches from Second City and The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.

Humor is not just about telling a funny story. It requires a set of tools to make an audience laugh, such as exaggeration, specificity, analogies, and the rule of three. These tools were gathered from interviews with professional improvisers and coaches who offer insights on how to get from idea to punchline.

Exaggeration is the first tool to use, taking a life event and embellishing it to surprise the listener. Surprise comes from saying something unexpected, as exemplified by John Mulaney’s quip about wearing a sweater and corduroy pants to a massage. The listener may have expected Mulaney to say he undressed rather than put on more clothes, making the joke funnier.

The second tool is specificity, which uses precise and vivid language to create a relatable mental image for the listener. By describing Mulaney’s corduroy pants as thick, made-for-winter, and absurd attire during a massage, the audience creates a funny mental image.

Using analogies, the third tool, can be effective in highlighting how absurd something is by comparing it to something equally outrageous. Analogies require a solid base of personal observation and specificity to help the audience understand the connection. When Hasan Minhaj compares his conversations with his father to an M. Night Shyamalan movie, he’s pointing out how tedious and unfulfilling they can be, much like one of Shyamalan’s films. By creating a relatable connection, the analogy becomes funny.

The final tool is the rule of three, a simple but effective way to subvert expectations and create surprise. By listing two expected things and then adding an unexpected third element, a laugh line can be created. Amy Schumer’s joke about becoming rich, famous, and humble wouldn’t work without establishing the pattern first, making the audience anticipate something different before ending with “humble.”

To be humorous, one must have a solid base of personal observation, use specificity and vivid language to create a mental image, use analogies (when appropriate) to create relatable connections, and use the rule of three to subvert expectations. With these simple tools from professional improvisers and coaches at places like Second City and The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, humor can be more accessible and effectively used.

Spontaneous Humor: A Guide

Humor is a powerful tool for building connections and fostering creativity, but not everyone has the luxury of spending months and years honing their comedic skills. So how can you be funny on the spot? Start by knowing your go-to stories and being observant of your surroundings. Look for what’s funny right now, to this group only. Creating safe spaces for others to explore their funny sides is also a great way to build lasting connections while encouraging mental gymnastics. Whether you’re being strategic or spontaneous, humor can lead to innovative and visionary ideas. Learn how to appropriately use humor in the next part.

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