Humor. What we won’t do to give or get a laugh. The recent passing of Robin and Joan gives us pause and makes us think about the value of humor. The absurd, bawdy, irreverent, disrespectful, stupid, ironic and self deprecating manner of emotional communication has a very steep price when misunderstood or perceived as sarcasm or disruption.
What we see from the really brilliant comics is not pratfalls, card tricks or goofy mannerisms. They have the ability to shove reality up your nose and make you like it. They pull the curtain off of life’s irony and moronic beliefs and bring us to consciousness for a side splitting second.
They bring out how we really feel about things but dare not think. That sudden jolt, gasp or breathless reaction to the truth, the real truth, about this hypnotic state we call existence, is both visceral and revealing. There are heads of state whose demise didn’t get as much attention as Williams and Rivers. It shows the value of comic relief and escape from the realities of everyday life, the horrors of war, the ineptitude of our leaders and the sad despair in third world countries.
My wit and humor has been both a blessing, a curse, sometimes a life saver or an ass whooping. Many times the punchline led to a punch. But resist? Nay! My sense of humor has gotten me everything but laid. Wait! Strike that! The fact that I see the humor in almost everything doesn’t make me a complete moron. (Well, not exactly)
When I worked as a sales rep for Dupont and a district manager position opened up in Chicago , I was told I should go for it by my then manager, Karen Randall. She thought I had what it took. I was at the top of my game. I had three states just about locked up, ran a district web site and was shooting patient education videos. I even wrote songs for the company and performed them at large venues. When the phone interview took place, the over riding concern was my sense of humor. Who would take a guy like me seriously? (Oh, I don’t know, maybe 500 satisfied customers?)
When the guy interviewing me ran out of excuses, he resorted to “What do you think George Jones would say if your name came up?” For once, I was speechless. That was it. Game over. The coup de grâce. When you wanted to kill the conversation with me you played the “George” card. George, vice president of sales, had no idea how a chef, musician, dock working comedian ever slithered under the door and into his beloved sales force. When he saw me he would just sigh. I was a bit too much for this quiet, introspective gentleman. And I was constantly told he had his eye on me.
Once, at a sales training meeting, Sully, whose idea it was to bring me in to sales in the first place, opened the meeting with “We’re going to step up product training so that reps don’t just walk into a doctor’s office, tell a few jokes and leave.” Everyone in the room knew who that harpoon was headed for. I thought I would expire. It took me weeks to recover. But recover I did.
In honesty, you could fill a state with what I didn’t know about those products. But I knew people. I could make them laugh. I could listen. I could care. All the rest is bullshit as far as I’m concerned. Humor is communication at it’s highest level. Communication is everything. I’ll leave you with this.
“The problem with communication is the illusion that is has occurred.”
George Bernard Shaw