Humor is a Contact Sport!
Funny Stories for Coaching, Counseling and Therapy
A sense of humor is an asset of happy people, yet
humor is more than making people laugh. Humor can help you welcome
and bond to people, put problems into perspective, improve performance,
promote creativity and energize communications.
Humor can also achieve the opposite of all of these.
"Didn't we meet in
Does humor seem easy? Being funny is a delicate balancing
act. Humor can both attract and alienate people. How many
times have you heard people say, "But I was only joking!"
My humor lost me my job. I made fun
of our working situation
but none of my co-workers thought it was funny, and
they told my boss who was definitely not amused.
Joking can be hazardous to your wealth!
Most (certainly not all) people believe that a sense of
humor is an asset, but they may forget a key word ... appropriate.
Only appropriate humor allows you to interact and bond with people,
to address sensitive ideas or topics without causing offense
and to encourage people to express themselves.
Martyn, your humor made the
difference. You helped me laugh at my problems,
and you never laughed at me. You helped me kick myself out of my
Humor can take many forms. I don't remember many jokes
but I enjoy telling funny observations, puns (people groan, not laugh)
and metaphors. An awareness of humor helps me recognize and enjoy Freudian
slips (multi-level unconscious communication) during coaching and counseling
The trouble with having an open mind is that
people try to put things in it.
People seem more inclined to express humor in an
atmosphere of trust and familiarity. Humor and laughter can be a
social glue with friends, and help build trust and
familiarity with clients and students.
Origins of Humor
Studies of humor date back to Plato and Aristotle,
who subscribed to a theory of superiority. Charles Darwin wrote about
humor in The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872).
Freud wrote that humor is relief and some philosophers say
that humor is a leftover of childish play.
The discussion of humor by biologists,
psychologists and psychiatrists has not seen humor explained. Although
theories about humor are abundant, real research into humor seems to be
complicated by a conflict with serious scientific investigation.
I have coached professional comedians
as well as particularly funny adults, and explored the origins of their
humor. These people often seemed to have developed being funny as a way
to cope with home or school problems as a child, often as a way to gain
I would prefer a free bottle in
front of me than a pre-frontal lobotomy.
Are men funnier
than women; or is humor more important to men.
"Who can tell the best joke / make more people
Many funny people seem to drink excessive alcohol.
What's the connection?
Who MUST be Funny?
Occasionally, someone asks for coaching or
therapy and then tries to entertain us. Maybe they don't know how to stop
being funny, or perhaps humor is the only way they can communicate. Or maybe
they perceive our provocative-humorous philosophy as a challenge.
> Your humor article is almost funny :)
I should warn you, that if you coach all people
> around you to be healthy, wealthy and happy, you might get bored to
death ... You
> might be more mature, but I believe that I am a funnier writer. Email
Such people can be hilarious, with clever responses
for every question, although they also seem to have abstract,
complex goals with many conflicts. My attempts to manage this
type of humor by ignoring or rejecting it always fails - such people are
usually funnier, faster and more flexible than me.
I tend to enjoy their wit and guess out loud
some consequences of their inappropriate humor. I may mention
that I enjoy people who are mature enough to choose the
right time and place for humor.
My therapy style often helps people access,
mature and integrate split-off parts.
Yet with increased emotional maturity,
these funny people often lose the compulsion to be funny. They
can still cause me and others to laugh out loud, but they become better
at choosing the right times and places for fun.
Humor for Coaches, Therapists & Trainers
In spite of many compelling reasons for
using humor, few helping professionals seem to integrate it into their work.
Some tell me that they are professionals, that they do not
want to be perceived as funny, or that they lack confidence in
their ability to make people laugh. Yet these same people probably create
and regularly share humor with family members, friends and colleagues.
Years ago I attended a training with Dr Patch
Adams (the real one, not Robin Williams). Perhaps Patch Adams'
gave me permission to be funny with clients.
Patch Adams: If you treat
a disease, you win or you lose.
If you treat a person, I guarantee that you'll win, no matter the outcome.
You can get some comedy audios and videos and learn
some patterns, and how to set up humor for a good effect. Once
I had a rental car for a month, and a Robin Williams' cassette
"Live at the Met", and I played it endlessly. On return
home I entertained my friends; and later one said, "Last night
I watched a Robin Williams show on TV ... he stole your jokes but you
told them better!"
If you give presentations or trainings, perhaps chat
with some members of the audience before you start. This can help build
a sense of familiarity and ease with them, with a bonus that the
conversations may give you some ideas that you can safely
share with the audience later.
We can coach you to
discover, build and express your sense of humor.
People who Laugh Together Stay Together
Even if you can tell jokes well, there may be some stories
and types of humor that you may be wise to avoid. Used well, your humor
can distract people from stress and offer solutions for problems.
Humor is valuable in relationships ... couples and families who are
happy together usually stay together.
Even if you think that you have no sense of humor, you
can still develop it. If you want to improve your joy of life - get
our coaching! We can help you find your funny side and feel more comfortable
letting it show. We can coach you to exercise your humor muscles and strengthen
your funny bones.
Perhaps you can already amuse your friends
and relatives ... why not ask them for feedback? And maybe you
can benefit from some improvement. You can:
- Get our humor coaching
- Expand your repertoire of stories
- Lighten up and notice life's funny moments
- Collect personal stories for future presentations
- Be willing to laugh at yourself and at your
- Ask funny friends for tips and tricks on how
they improved their humor
- Talk to more people. Compliments are a good
way to start conversations.
- Use gestures or facial expressions that
express the opposite of your words
- Watch comedies and read funny articles.
Note how professionals tell stories.
- If you smile and laugh more often, you may
see humor that you didn't see before
If people like you -
they will usually laugh with you!
During a job interview, I was asked
by the panel what I thought was my best asset.
I replied "No matter how bad
things get, I can usually see the funny side".
The panel seemed to like that. Later they asked what I thought
was my greatest liability,
and I gave the same answer. There was general hilarity ...
and I got the job. Martyn
Which Type of Humor to Use?
Your clients or audience decide what is funny - not you!
As you build a repertoire of funny stories, perhaps build a repertoire
of funny styles. If you learn to use different styles of humor ...
you will create more funny stories ... and have more fun. Develop
your flexibility! Here are some ways to be funny:
Dark humor (black comedy) is about
violent, gross or depressing topics. (Emergency workers often have great dark
humor. If a victim is the source of the laughter it may be called
Dry humor is deadpan, e.g.
not-very-funny stories that customs inspectors may tell.
Jokes are short stories ending with funny
twists (punch lines).
Misunderstandings are often about
relationships and may involve mistaken identities, sex, etc.
Parodies (spoofs) mock original
works, e.g. movies, TV shows, scientific theories etc.
Physical humor is all about body movements
and non-verbal communication. (E.g. Saying "YES! DEFINITELY!"
with a deep tonality while shaking your head slowly and hugely from side to side).
Puns are word plays which exploit multiple
meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words, for humorous
effects. (E.g. We are a non-prophet organization!)
Sarcasm isn't a style of humor, it is
usually condescending covert criticism. Avoid it.
Satire ridicules human follies and
shortcomings with irony or parody. Satire may be funny, but
usually its primary aim is to judge behavior or motivate improvement.
Being funny appropriately is not
as easy as it might seem. Appropriate humor requires sensitivity, effort
and practice. You don't need to be a stand-up comedian - and you do need
to connect with your audiences or clients. We can help you relax
with your creativity and enjoy improving your sense of humor.
Sometimes only non-sense makes sense!
See our Funny Page
Online Humor Coaching
& Soulwork Training
I thought you were just
another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.
Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 2008-2017
All rights reserved.