Humor at Work: What Works, What Doesn't, and What Will Get You Fired

Humor at Work: What Works, What Doesn't, and What Will Get You Fired

“People get more done when they enjoy their work. So, humor in the workplace isn’t about making work funny, or being the funniest person in the office. It’s about making work fun, and getting better results.” 

That’s according to my podcast guest this week, Drew Tarvin. Drew is a comedian and former corporate IT manager for Procter & Gamble. But today he describes himself as a humor engineer because what he does is help people be more effective at work through the art and science of humor. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, FastCompany, and Inc. Magazine. And he’s the author of several books, including his most recent one, Humor That Works: The Missing Skill for Success and Happiness at Work.

Drew’s so much fun to talk to I’ve actually had him on the show several times. I’ve outlined below some of the questions I asked and where you’ll find them in our discussion. But, honestly, just click the play button above and listen to the whole thing. It’s a lot of fun, and you’ll learn plenty that will make your work more fun along the way.

  • 1:52 – Why did you write this book?
  • 3:00 – Exactly what is humor and what is it not? 
  • 4:30 – What are some of the 30 benefits of using humor at work? 
  • 7:45 – What are the 4 types of humor we should avoid at work?

“Nobody ever got fired for telling a bad joke at the office. But they get fired all the time for telling inappropriate jokes.” 

  • 15:00 – Why is the advice to “start with a joke” usually misguided?
  • 17:15 – What are the types of humor we should use at work?
  • 18:05 – 5 skills needed at work and 2 humor strategies that work for each one
  • 18:55 – Drew’s favorite humor strategies

You can learn more about Drew at

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Paul Smith is one of the world’s leading experts on business storytelling. He’s a keynote speaker, storytelling coach, and bestselling author.

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