Join Izzy Gesell for an in-depth discussion in this video Roles of humor in society, part of Humor in the Workplace.
- A recurring function of humor throughout history and across cultures, has been to help people in transition maintain mental, physical, emotional and spiritual balance. It helps identify allies, those who see things the way you do, and others, those who may have different perspectives. For example, historically, court jesters had license to tell the truth to the reigning powers because royalty needed to have a class of people that weren't going to just tell them what they were supposed to say.
Like in the fable "The Emperor's New Clothes", the adults were afraid to tell the king the truth, that he wasn't actually clothed. In the end, it was a child who had the courage to tell the truth to power, and that is the role of the court jester. Socially, it's the comedians, the satirists, and editorial cartoonists, who use humor to address social and political issues. Take a look at the editorial cartoons in your favorite newspaper. Notice what the topics are. Culturally, clowns, coyotes, tricksters, are examples of characters that serve a variety of purposes across cultures.
Very often, these purposes have an educational or a moral component to them. For instance, one function of a clown is to show that when life knocks you down, you can bounce back up and keep going. So this wide-angle view shows us that humor has a deeper meaning than just momentary fun. A variety of messages can be transmitted and accepted through humor. This is also true in the workplace. You can think of the workplace as a microcosm of society.
You have the characters, comedians, and truth-tellers. It's important to recognize that humor in the workplace is directly connected to the historical, social, and cultural uses throughout time.
- Understanding why we laugh
- Using humor as a weapon or connection
- Shifting perspectives through humor
- Releasing tension with humor
- Expanding your humor skill set