In-house Issues: Laugh It Off

“Humor can alter any situation and help us cope at the very instant we are laughing.”

-Allen Klein

I recently gave a presentation on how to turbocharge a creative team and I want to apologize to the audience for a critical omission. In speaking about what attitudes and behaviors are needed to succeed as an in-house creative, I left out the most important attribute of all – a sense of humor.


Maybe, at least for me, it was so obvious that I took it for granted. It is so important, that I’d say if you don’t have it you should find another profession immediately. It’s also a bellwether for staying at or leaving a job. If you had it when you started and then you lose it then leave.

It’s no understatement to say that working in a corporation, with all the inanity, insanity, nastiness, pettiness and politics that goes with it, can break down even the most positive and optimistic spirit. The best defense is to be able to find the humor in it all. There are some fine lines that it’s best not to cross though. Humor as a rationale for resignation is a big no-no as is nasty humor employed at the expense of others.

At it’s best and most valuable, humor will help you accept and even embrace the foibles of others without denigrating them. It will help you not take things so seriously even while everyone around you is chickenlittling themselves to death. It’s also the lubricant that greases a team’s collaborative wheels.

The most effective use of humor that I’ve found, though, is when I apply it liberally to myself. There sure is plenty of material there and I always end up feeling a little less self-important and a lot lighter when I laugh with myself rather than at others.

As designers, we’re wired to be problem solvers. With that in mind, I believe the last quote is particularly appropriate. BTW – The irony that this is one of the least funny posts I’ve written is not lost on me. 😉

“I think the next best thing to solving a problem is finding some humor in it.”

-Frank Howard Clark


4 thoughts on “In-house Issues: Laugh It Off

  1. Kevin


    Good advice, as usual. Once a year, our department produces an April Fool’s version of our corporate in-house newsletter. It is by far the most popular edition of the year, and also helps in building relationships with other departments.

    By the way, I’ve found a good sense of humor to be just as helpful outside of the workplace.


  2. edr3

    Working alongside engineers and accountants all day requires me to have a good sense of humor. I’d take a humorist over a curmudgeon every day of the week.

  3. Bob Calvano

    Hey Andy,

    Laughter is one of the greatest gifts in the world. Just this weekend I was laughing hysterically as a friend compared the attire of Bela Lugosi and Lenny Kravitz – don’t ask. When I hear laughter at work I say to myself “thank God we are at least having fun.” Corporate America doesn’t intend to be funny (but it is) and could care less about a sense of humor. As creatives, we tend find the humor in all of the inhibiting non-sense we are confronted with every day and use it as a coping mechanism.

    When I stop laughing please do one of two things: shoot me or fire me.

    – Bob Calvano

  4. Brooke

    Good advice! I often can be seen at my desk laughing to myself. If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at! (I also laugh with other people, jeez I’m not that crazy…)