Sharing Humor at Work

October 10, 2010

In the office, with people rushing to and from class, someone asked a question.

“I don’t know,” Todd said (names changed to protect the innocent), “Ask Barry. He’ll know.” He did, of course.

Todd continued: “See, anything you want to know, Barry knows.”

Frank: “In fact, Barry knows things you don’t want to know. No really, you don’t want to know!”

Laughter. Smiles, even Barry. And everyone was off to office and class.

Occasionally my friend Paul and I happen to meet in the office hall, trade a couple of bad puns, and suddenly fall into the roles of Jot and Tittle, the Bible Answer Persons, full of word play and misinformation. This mostly amuses the two of us, while others may be bewildered, even worried. But it affirms our friendship and sends us back to work with a grin.

Sometimes I’ll ask one of the terrific students who work in our office, “Do you have everything under control today?” or a question equally odd or preposterous. It’s usually good for a puzzled look, a smile, or, best of all, a funny comeback.

Sharing humor at work helps us get along, get work done, and get good ideas, among other values. We can use and enjoy it by observing simple guidelines. Humor at work should be:

1. Quick. We all have work to do.
2. Kind. Use only positive humor that encourages and shows appreciation.
3. Playful. Invite folks to share fun together. We all love to hear, “You wanna play?”
4. Creative. Part of humor’s fun is in the new and unexpected.
5. Team building. Think of humor not as a contest but a collaboration. Give others straight lines; laugh generously at humor attempts.

Some days you may just have to amuse yourself, but shared laughter is fun and very worth the effort.




  1. John Griffin says:

    I agree Howard, some of the best times I have had while working is when I am working with someone who knows how to laugh. It is hard these days to find a group of people that can work and yet still have fun, but it can turn out to be the most amazing thing.

Living in Fun

"Walking Cheerfully" is place to think out loud about how to use and enjoy humor in positive, life-giving ways. We’ll explore how following Christ in all of life can shape, not scuttle, laughter and creative play. What might it mean to laugh with others as you would have them laugh with you?

Probably the other most common posts will be "Finds in Fun." I first learned the phrase “being in fun” from Tom Mullen’s Laughing Out Loud and Other Religious Experiences. He points to the playfulness of children, who are readier to laugh and to see the silly than most adults. Living each day “in fun” often makes us laugh as we slog through a nearly endless supply of things odd, silly, klutzy, and preposterous. The stories here are mostly from my own ordinary, “in fun” days.

Fun Nooks and Crannies

There’s “Humor in the Bible,” and these posts explore where it is, how to find it, and what to do with it. It’s one way of thinking about how to read the Bible well.

Since a lot of us spend big chunks of time at work, the “Humor at Work” posts will suggest ways to stay sane and happy, to get along with cow-orkers, and to use humor to do good work.

I’m a book-pusher at heart, and some of my best friends push books, too. I even know some folks who read. So “Fun Books” posts will tell about books that are funny and help us think about humor.

Sometimes I’ll brag on some of the friends I’ve been given or share some photos I’ve enjoyed taking. Maybe you’ll laugh, maybe not, but they’ve brought joy in my journey.

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