There is an ancient cult of acidic porcupine herders inhabiting the icy peaks of the Brixton Tower, whose religion prohibits them from believing in the benefits of humour. After taking ‘The Oath Of Ceremonial Seriousness’, they are not allowed to believe that humour:
- is a beneficial condition for creativity,
- facilitates breaking fixed patterns,
- aids creative learning,
- promotes health and happiness,
- captivates employees, and customers,
- and adds appeal to communication.
So successful have their anti-amusement practices been that the cult, after losing many of its members to an unsympathetic outside world, is sadly on the brink of stand up comedy.
Dr Edward de Bono, who has never embraced or even shaken hands with an anti-amusement practice in his life, allegedly said: “Reason can only sort out perceptions, but the humour process is involved in changing them.” As the grand-daddy of creative thinking, with higher degrees from Oxford and Cambridge (yes, that Oxford and that Cambridge), and more best-sellers to his name than there are quills in a porcupine herder (PH-er), I believe his allegations might have some substance. Please don’t misquote me on this – the association between the word ‘substance’ and the words ‘urine test’ exist purely in your somewhat twisted but highly creative imagination.
Seth Godin, whose Purple Cow disease has infected a generation of entrepreneurs like some kind of unleashed ‘Ideavirus meme’, had something to say about “being remarkable” and it’s corollary, “not being boring”. Need I digress any further?
Do the unexpected
So how does an ardent opponent of acidic PH-ism, embrace, or shake hands with, the benefits of humour?
First, remember that it’s okay to have fun. Can you hear the orchestra? Can you feel those winged supermodels – who shall remain unnamed for fear of offending passing PH-ists with an axe to grind – plummeting from Venus? And here’s the tip: Use familiar popular-culture references. It’s sometimes okay to be slightly silly, but most of the time it is better to err on the side of being completely bizarre. Except when it’s not.
Timing is crucial. Put the funny words at the end of your sentences or paragraphs. A pause in the right place can make even the staunchest PH-ist snort his tomato cocktail through his nose.
Cleverness can make your humour sparkle like Sunlight Liquid, but a little goes a long way, and the best kind makes your audience appreciate their own intelligence for getting your obscure references and correcting your idiotic eras. Another way of connecting with your audience’s intelligence is to identify with their pain. Unfortunately I cannot say more about this – there is that small matter of the Secrecy Bill
Repetition can be funny. Clarity is everything. Choose your words carefully, and consult a thesaurus for the most congruous lexeme to applicator
Humour is a two-way street. Look both ways before crossing into the dark realm of extended metaphor. It’s not just about being funny. It’s also about appreciating the fun in your world, however prickly that world may be. And speaking about the prickles of life and porcupine herders, a bit of naughtiness can spice up your humour. But I believe out-and-out toilet humour is on the out-and-out – call me a prude.
Now go forth and be remarkably funny. Live, laugh, and love your life as a creative entrepreneur. And don’t let the porcupine herders get you down.