By Raju Mandhyan
I bet you have more than once struggled and wrestled with humor.
You know it is important. You know as a trainer, speaker or a business leader it breaks ice, increases engagement and many a times earns you trust. Yet, at times it can pin you down and have you tapping on the floor to surrender and give up.
I know this. I have been there. There are times I’ve had the crowds rolling on the floor with laughter and then there are times that I have wanted to lie down on the floor and die.
Humor and pain like comedy and tragedy have subtle similarities. At the root level, these are both essentially the same. A person who has suffered great pain and tragedy in life also has the ability to transcend from it and convert it to comedy.
If you look through the history of those who have made the world laugh, you will note that they did, indeed, suffer great sorrow and pain before discovering laughter.
The bard, Shakespeare, created immortal masterpieces of drama but lived a personal life wrought in longing and loneliness. His every work is a constant dance between the tragic and the comic.
Charlie Chaplin, the lovable tramp, grew up in a world surrounded by poverty and Dickensian angst; almost all of his movies depict scenes of glee and sadness sublimely mixed and exaggerated for theatrical effect.
The legendary Doctor Patch Adams, who proved to the world that, indeed, laughter is the best medicine, lived a life of hardship and struggle, until and even after he acquired a medical degree. His patients loved his clowning and humor because they knew that behind the facade, he deeply understood, felt and also shared their pain.
Now, as a business leader, when it comes to generating laughter if you have been to where I have and want to be more careful and funny at the same time here are some humble tips from my book, the HeART of HUMOR;
* Know your pain, understand your pain and then recognize the human in you and let go of the pain through laughter and play. Transcend it.
* Know the possible pains of your audiences and, gently, help them see a different and a lighter perspective of life. Do not play down their suffering but poke fun at your own and they will heal and laugh.
* Have love and compassion for your audiences and your people. Love will lighten your spirits and hold you in a joyful state. Your audience will read and mirror your attitude and behavior. Laughter and lightness will become a natural by product.
* Stay rooted to the ground by choosing your stories and words with care and caution. The world has becoming increasingly sensitive and demands political correctness. Stay away from making fun of caste, color, and creed. Stay away from gender-related humor. If there is anyone that you need to make fun of, then make fun of yourself.
* Humor is about timing and absolute precision. The same joke that was great at meeting one may be a total flop at meeting two. The best humor is situational, quick, and clean.
* Lastly, yes, do try all your stuff at home. Good and funny stories after a few rounds of practice mature and ripen over time. You do notice that the previous tip, somehow, contradicts this tip. When you are able to strike a balance between then you can call yourself a professional humor wrestler.
So those are a few insights and tips on wrestling with humor. If you’d like to get some coaching into being funny then come join me for a session of “the HeART of HUMOR,” in Singapore at the end of April. Together, we will peel apart the wraps of humor in speaking. We will dig deep into the sciences behind stand-up comedy; we will look into improvisation, stage acting, and storytelling and then practice methods that will become more than relevant to generating laughter, engagement and rapport in business scenarios.
Remember, when you wrestle with humor and lose, you still win because they will laugh at your attempts and you will have still accomplished your goal.
Raju Mandhyan is an author, coach and speaker.