Posts Tagged ‘humor’

I just glanced at my official NBC “The Office” calendar and learned that September is Humor in Business Month. Intrigued, I did my usual exhaustive research (first three Google hits) and found absolutely no background information on this fact. Three other bloggers asking “did you know September is Humor in Business Month?” doesn’t count.

So, I guess HIBM (no, I’m not going to keep typing it) is open to interpretation, not unlike humor itself. This is why humor in copywriting is used so sparingly in corporate web, print or video…everywhere outside of advertising. Frankly, I think it should be used MORE sparingly IN advertising, with that weird Seinfeld Windows commercial being prime evidence.

Workplace humor always has the smell of desperation to it. Cartoons like Dilbert have taken some heat over the years for being something of an opiate for the downtrodden office worker.  Some theorists say that laughing at Dilbert’s idiot boss takes the sting out of the fact that your own boss is an even bigger idiot. You let off steam and never gather the courage to actually change your circumstances.  Others say, “Lighten up, Francis. It’s a cartoon.”  Still others say, “As a member of the county road crew shoveling hot asphalt in the middle of August in South Carolina, I do SO identify with the miseries of the modern office worker.”

Sociology moment over.

I grew up on George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, early SNL, SCTV, MAD Magazine and National Lampoon.  I was the weird kid with no friends writing monologues and sketches, performing them into my tape recorder for absolutely no one to hear. I always knew that copywriting was in my future.

Naturally, I pursued a career path where I get to express that talent almost never. Business copywriting is often pretty straightforward. This is a business where the new, 20-percent-more-absorbent paper towel is treated like the cure for cancer… so lose the laughs, funnyman!

Despite this, I have had more than my share of fun, funny projects. In the course of getting to know people, clients, future clients, etc., my offbeat sensibility peeks out. Eventually, every client needs a funny script…usually something internal like a merchandising, promotional or motivational video script.  And I usually get the call. Check out some samples on my Video page.

Humor in business communication has its place. It’s a rarity, but that’s not a bad thing. Not being able to automatically utilize my strong suit has forced me to develop my more serious side. When I do get to use humor, it’s refreshing.

So, if you get the opportunity, try a little levity in your corporate communications. But you’d better get busy…Humor in Business Month is half over!

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