Funny/Not Funny

Whatever your political leanings, I think it’s safe to say that this year’s campaign is bringing us humor where we don’t expect it and some truly un-funny moments when we’re primed to laugh.

When the people who want to be president start sounding more like insult comics, can we trust them to govern the nation or will they simply begin a four-year term as Roastmaster-in-Chief?

I can’t help but compare this year’s crop of political laugh lines to the most famous one to emerge from the 1988 contest—when George H.W. Bush wanted to upgrade from the Vice Presidency. (Spoiler alert: he did.) At the Democratic convention that summer, Texas Governor Ann Richards combined two charges against Bush—that he was elitist and a poor communicator—into one memorable zinger. (Watch it here.)

That, my friends, is great political comedy. While the line might be perfectly at home at a Roast (that is, essentially, one function political conventions serve), it also gets the listener to think about, and laugh about, serious qualities that matter in a president. We want our presidents to understand how the “little people” live. And we want them to be able to communicate in meaningful ways.

When you’re crafting a joke, especially in the business world, look at it from every angle. Make sure it’s substantive as well as funny. Shows the author or speaker in a good light, and is funny. And if it’s for a speech, rehearse the speaker to make sure the funny shines through.

I’ll talk more about humor and business in my next post.

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