“they either like it or they don’t If they don’t, I’ll go somewhere else and they’ll like it. I
don’t care.”
The Takeaway: The Comedy Kvetch; Why Having A Sense of Humor Is
Sheryl is still working nonstop and humorously comments, “the clients still act like
everything is a fire drill and then they sit on the work for a month.” She then chuckles
about another client, “she rewrites everything and then says she hates something that she
originally changed -- she just can’t remember she rewrote it.” This is the insanity of the
business that I recognize. The speed of the hurry up and wait phenomenon is just
accelerated in the advertising world. Humor, mixed with a good-natured ‘kvetch’ (Yiddish
word for complaining), is how Sheryl bridges the contradictions, laughs and moves on. Her
humorous commentary is a way of mentally shrugging the shoulders and expressing that
life can be hard, sometimes unfair, and there’s the add-on humor of voicing the paradox
that allows for its release. In Sheryl’s case, she constructs the enigmatic imagery of the fire
drill and sitting still. Humor is relational because it works best if others have had a similar
experience. Somebody tripping up the stairs isn’t all that amusing if there isn’t a witness.
The hit series The Office is more entertaining to individuals who have experienced the
messiness of corporate politics. It is the recognition of the reality in the comedy that ignites
the laughter. A sense of humor coupled with an innate understanding of the needs of the
consumer audience is essential in the field of advertising. Although laughter has been
shown in medicine to boost immunity, it may also be the antidote to survive in the
corporate world.
Sheryl talks about some crazy rules posted outside a bathroom at one of the advertising
agencies. “They were serious, dead serious it was a list of 20 things to do when you go
to the bathroom.” I wanted one example besides washing your hands. Sheryl acquiesces,
“One is that if you see someone in a stall and you don’t hear anything coming from the stall
leave the bathroom maybe they are embarrassed.” We’re both laughing because the
edict was definitely beyond a courtesy flush and I thought they must have been kidding?
Sheryl replies, “NO, they were serious. They got to be the laugh of the industry. Then they
backpedaled to make it funny as a joke. Too late!”
Workplace humor serves multiple functions in organizations, “According to Morreall (1991),
there are three specific function for humor within organizations: combating stress,
improving mental flexibility, and developing social relations” (Ojha & Holmes, 2010, p. 282).
Humor is also essential in an industry that relies on comic relief in the creation of
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