Chapter 7 | How To Joke With People
It would seem that somewhere after the popularizing of Zubaz (Zoo-buh) pants in the 1990’s but before the trend of the Snuggie in 2010… that ‘Merica and the rest of the world had a new approach to comedy: Sue the shit out of the people with a sense of humor, and try to cripple them from future job opportunities if at all possible. I’m not saying lines aren’t crossed that never should be by people every day, but the opportunity to have a well-intentioned comical thought run through your mind and flow out of your mouth is gone. There’s no defending someone who willingly and consistently bashes a minority or women or people that live a lifestyle different than their own. But it is sad that you have to second guess whether the pieces of comic genius that run around in your head are worth getting fired for if they aren’t well received.
Comedy is one of the quickest ways to endear yourself to others, make lasting friendships, and give people one of the least expensive, most important things they need on a daily basis. Smiles. Now we have a paradox though. Which is academic speak for “Well isn’t that some bull shit.” Essentially I’m telling you that you need to tell jokes and get smiles, even though it could cause waves. But that is why this chapter exists. It’s to discuss the guidelines and approaches to comedy that can still exist in this “Everyone’s got a racist, sexist, biased agenda and they are targeting everyone else and just picking on them” society. You’ll notice how quickly I pick on myself, but how few jokes I’ve made about groups of people that I don’t fit the mold for.
Evaluating the field ~
My father was the 3rd son of a farmer. He attended college and got his degree in Agriculture since it looked like he would be the 3rd in the line to get an option to run the family farm. He then became the Ag Science Tech teacher in my hometown, and led high schoolers in many disciplines and competitions, one of which was “Land Judging.” This is where you literally use nothing but your eyes and hands after walking onto a land site you’ve never seen before, and in a set amount of time have to evaluate it for multiple uses. Something I once placed 2nd at nationals for and could have easily attended college for via scholarships.
A room of people, a person you just met, or a phone call with someone whose name you’ve already forgotten are no different. It’s a landscape that needs to be understood before certain actions are taken. And better yet, it’s conversing with people we are talking about here–no one has to go dig a 6-foot deep trench in the land before we can start evaluating things.
If you are in a business setting you start by getting to meetings early, spending the 5 minutes it takes for the stragglers to roll in as 5 minutes to ask where everyone’s from, how long they’ve been with the company and what all departments they might have spent time in, talk about local sports teams, etc. Along the way the stories of everyone’s weekends come up, how various people have kids and the stories that come along with them, and the people’s personalities start to show through. You aren’t cracking jokes every other sentence–you are smiling and asking harmless questions and gathering info about everyone. Hints that might add up to the directions to the treasure box that is still locked and prevent you from being able to tell jokes with them yet.
A first date, a party where you only know one person, or meeting a friends parents isn’t so different. Courtesy, open ended questions, and a lot of smiles go a long way. Before you know it they’ve mentioned some past time you know something about, an interest you’ve always followed, etc. Story sharing back and forth occurs, and they’ve gone from not knowing or caring who you are to giving you the benefit of the doubt.