Tuesday, May 31, 2016

How to tell jokes: Politically Correct Jokes

This is an excerpt from Humor 101: How to Tell Jokes for Power, Prestige, Profit, and Personal Fulfillment

“For every ten jokes, thou hast got an hundred enemies.” Laurence Sterne (Howard’s great, great, great, great grandfather.)
Politically correct jokes are jokes that are tailored not to offend certain people. The problem is that anytime anyone tries to be funny, there’s a chance he or she will offend somebody. You don’t have to tell very many jokes to find that out. And some of the people who get offended aren’t shy about saying so. Complaints about jokes can be very off the wall but it will rarely do any good to try to explain a joke to someone who feels offended. For example, there’s just no way to explain irony to someone who does not get it.
In business settings it’s a good idea not to offend people if you can avoid it. Tell jokes that have a broad appeal, that don’t play on stereotypes, and that don’t take jabs at groups of people. Unlike pitching in baseball, in comedy it’s usually better to aim for the middle of the plate than it is to try to get strikes on the corners. You want to pitch jokes that are obvious strikes. You don’t want to leave people wondering whether they got it or not. 
I recently saw a bumper sticker that said, “Meat is Murder.” Well I guess that makes me a sociopath! I love the feeling of my incisors ripping through a nice juicy steak.
As a rule, I don’t laugh very hard at my own jokes, but that one used to kill me. I really loved telling that joke. Even after I had been telling it for a while, it still made me smile inside. It’s a funny joke, but not for everybody. I’m sure I alienated many vegetarians with that joke. If I had known then what I know now, I would have dumped that joke.
Another bit I should have stopped using took pokes at balding TV personalities, especially the ones who do the comb-over. I’m sure that whenever I did that bit, I alienated many men who were, shall we say, folically challenged. Try to be aware of who might be offended by a joke and ask yourself if the joke is worth it. Sometimes it is. In business situations, it usually isn’t. 

Further reading.


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