What Are You Laughing At?

Leadership HumorJim Gaffigan is one of the funniest people I know.

I first saw him perform in the fall of 2004. I had just moved to New York and it was my first time visiting the Haven, a community of about 200 Christian artists who met weekly in Times Square. Part of their weekly format included an “inspiration,” which consisted of someone getting up and “doing their art.” Okay, I thought, some dude with a guitar is gonna get up and sing.

When they announced that the week’s “inspiration” was going to be stand-up comedy, I thought, Uh oh, this could be bad. Few things in life are more painful than watching someone try to be funny. But Jim was no amateur act, and he blew me away – the best stand-up comedian I’d ever seen. He served up joke after joke – each one delivered with impeccable timing, each one frolicking on the edge of heresy.

Jim is a master. He has appeared on Letterman and Comedy Central, and will join Kiefer Sutherland and Chris Noth on Broadway this spring in That Championship Season. Check out his comedy about Cake, Hot Pockets, Holidays, and Religion. Better yet, see him live.

My abs hurt for a week after seeing Jim’s act, but it was worth it. Laughter heals. Laughter breaks down walls. Laughter makes life bearable.

And few things reveal more about a person’s interior life than what they laugh at (or what they don’t). Why? Simply because laughing is rarely something you choose to do. Therefore it ushers us past a person’s inhibitions and straight into their preferences, personality, and – depending on the joke – even their values. So as a leader, keep an eye on what your people are laughing at – or not laughing at. It’ll give you an insight into who they are.

So…what’s the funniest thing you’ve seen lately?

3 thoughts on “What Are You Laughing At?”

  1. “…few things reveal more about a person’s interior life than what they laugh at.” So very true. I teach/facilitate a “Comedy in Worship” seminar/workshop, and that’s always been one of my major tenants. That’s why well-executed, targeted humor can cut through facades much more quickly and effectively than other forms of communication.

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