My love of comedy started when I was a child and I first watched The Young Ones and Blackadder. I didn't always understand the more grownup jokes, but enjoyed what I could understand. My tastes branched out over the years to a variety of different comedy styles, and I now enjoy a range from some of the world's most well known comedians to rather niche and unusual acts.
A few years back I attended a training event in the UK called Comedy in NLP, at which I learned a great deal and experienced how fun it could be to play up comedically. After the course I started writing down anything I could think of that I considered funny. I quickly realised that humour was all around me, especially in business.
Lately I have decided to get involved in stand-up comedy and comedy writing. I have had a lot of encouragement from my friends and colleagues in business, but also a bit of confusion. Do comedy and business mix? Is trying to fit both of these things together akin to selling guns in a Christian book shop? After giving this some thought I concluded that business and comedy have a lot in common, and that the skills and attitudes in comedy are not only compatible but also very useful in business.
Comedians tend to have light hearted attitudes toward their subject manner, even if their persona is to show discontent. Most people in business who have high levels of stress have far too rigid attitudes, make things more important than they are, and have too serious a manner about them. They mistake "taking things seriously" for "being serious", and mistake "being professional" for "being boring." People who bring a light-hearted attitude to their work tend to have much less stress, reduce stress of those around them, and get a lot more done.
There are many artificial methods out there for building rapport, most of which are over-complicated and mechanical. I like to keep things simple. Think about situations where you see people who truly have rapport with each other, such as guys hanging about in the pub after work - almost inevitably such situations involve humourous banter and gentle ribbing. The same kind of humourous banter builds rapport in a business environment, albeit usually with a little less colourful language and beverages.
Flexibility of State
Comedians move between different states of mind and body depending on what they are portraying in their set. A comedian might intentionally play confused during one piece of material, angrily rant during another piece, and then have a jovial manner about a third. In business, the ability to move intentionally between states can help people adapt to situations around them, and in times of difficulty to move from being worried and unhappy, to resourceful and focused.
Attention to Language
A comedian pays attention to peculiarities in language, and plays with words in order to create humour. Communication is one of the most important skills in most areas of business, and being able to analyse and understand peoples' use of language can help in a big way. Models such as NLP and Metaphors of Business are testament to this.
Looking at Thing Differently
A comedian looks at things in different ways, and applies thought from one subject to other unrelated subjects. When these observations are portrayed, it causes laughter in those who hadn't yet made such connections. Being successful in the workplace also involves being able to look at things differently, which assists problem solving and the ability to formulate new ideas.
I welcome any thoughts, comments, observations.
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I have long been a fan of stand-up comedy and have always wondered what makes comedy funny. Lately I have noticed a number of metaphor that are used in the comedy industry, and in day to day conversation when people talk about comedy.
The main thing I have noticed that many metaphor in comedy are related to some kind of force. The force is created by the comedian, then applied to the audience. The force causes the audience to have an involuntary reaction, and does damage to them. The audience know this and volunteer to be broken. Let's look at this further.
Let's start with the comedian. If the comedy is funny, then metaphor used toward comedians tend to be around the delivery of the force.
When it comes to the audience, the metaphor tend to be around having force applied to them, causing involuntary reactions and having damage inflicted.
This got me thinking. If comedy is about audience members going in and voluntarily offering to be broken by the comedian, and the comedian applying a force to do the breaking, what actually is it that's going on? What is the force? And what is the force actually breaking?
My take on it is that the audience of a comedy show go along as an escape from the day to day reality of their lives. They take along their everyday sensibilities, beliefs, and perceptions, and in the safety of the comedy show they offer them up to be broken. The comedian has an understanding of the common perceptions that the audience want to have broken, and through their unique viewpoints and attitudes, they apply the appropriate force of words to challenge and break such perceptions.
If the comedian tries to break perceptions that the audience doesn't have, the comedy doesn't work. If the comedian chooses perceptions that the audience has, but doesn't apply the appropriate force to break them, the comedy doesn't work. When comedy doesn't work, the audience often get disappointed or angry that their perceptions are left intact. They say that the comedian "died out there". But if the comedian chooses appropriate perceptions, and applies the appropriate amount of force, the audience enjoy having their perceptions broken and have the involuntary reaction of laughing. The comedian "killed".
So it's no wonder people revere successful comedians, and that the thought of being a stand-up comedian scares the bejesus out of most people. Imagine it being your job to put yourself in a position where you either kill or get killed, all for the amusement of others! To most people that sounds crazy, but for the comedian it's part of the fun of it.
For more articles about comedy and metaphor, click here www.richardlindesay.com/home/category/metaphor.
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