On my last job search I came across the following position: Court Jester. You read that right. This particular company was hiring someone to liven up the office through his or her antics. At the time it was the only company I saw that had a position like that.

How times have changed... Just when you thought you had seen everything, here comes the humor consultant. We now seek advice from folks who claim to know how to keep workplaces fun and frivolous.

If I sound cynical, I'm not. Honest. I just sound that way when I write.

But, yes, we now have humor consultants. According to Portfolio.com, these professionals are not teaching employees and management how to tell jokes or put on a comedy show. Instead, they are showing them to see the bright side of all situations. Finding some sunshine in what some would say are dark times is the ultimate goal.

The value of this could be great. After all, many of us spend long periods of time each day at the workplace. Why not make it enjoyable? Laughter and the endorphins that come with it just may make you like your job in the end.

Results, however, have been mixed thus far. Some snippets from the article:

- 'Patricia Clerico-Parham of Cisco Systems says [ New Yorker cartoon editor Bob] Mankoff's presentation there last year helped "defuse tension in a competitive environment where there's not much downtime." His talk was "an important reminder that it's okay to have fun, and brainstorming is not about blaming," she adds.

- One client, Tim Warneke, senior director of King Pharmaceuticals in Cary, North Carolina, says these sessions not only help employees learn how to "bring fun to work" but also coaches them on what is appropriate humor. "She gives feedback on what is and isn't going to fly," he says.

- Take the humor consultant who wore a red rubber clown nose while speaking to a regional gathering of State Farm employees. Spokeswoman Carolyn Fujioka says he was "pretty lame and he provided no revelations."

- A consultant who served up platitudes like "humor is a life-giving liquid" and "humor occurs at the speed of trust" to management trainees at McDonald's also was not well received. The company official who booked the guy angrily hung up on this reporter when asked about the experience.

Like with all consultants, do the due diligence. Determine if the consultant did improve the workplace and help contribute to better bottom lines for his or her clients. Bringing in a humor consultant is risky; the returns must merit that risk.

If you teach a person to laugh, then he shall laugh for a lifetime. Or something like that.

Do you see upsides in hiring humor consultants? Should we just seek out employees and managers with positive orientations instead? Can an optimistic outlook on worklife be taught?

Views: 4

Tags: consultants, ha, humor


You need to be a member of FohBoh to add comments!

Join FohBoh

Comment by Jason Lane on October 8, 2008 at 2:27pm
Amanda - Great comment, couldn't agree more. One of my favorite books ever was 'Kitchen Confidential' by the now famous Anthony Bourdain. In it he says basically the same thing - he'd rather hire someone who has the character and drive and wants to be there than someone who is more qualified but less passionate about the job. "You can teach cooking, but you can't teach character" is his quote from the book - truer words could not be spoken.

By the way just an LOL, buddy of mine had a gig for awhile as Captain Morgan - Literally, he would go to bars dressed as the Capt, with a team of shot girls, and promote their product. Said it was the best job he ever had.

Comment by Paul Paz on October 7, 2008 at 10:50pm

I have been managed on many occasions with this repeated phrase from superiors,

"Smile... Be happy... damn it!"

It usually makes me smile internally!

Comment by Heather Stewart on October 7, 2008 at 8:41am
I think it is not only important to hire for personality and positivity, but to coach it as well. As leaders of a company, we should all lead by example. I cannot force my team to have fun just because some "humor consultant" is around, especially if I am walking around with a cynical attitude.
That being said, where do I sign up to be the court jester? I do that already on top of my normal responsibilities, maybe this is a step up! :)
Comment by Amanda Vroom on October 2, 2008 at 12:15pm
You should always hire for personality. You teach anyone a task!

Comment by Keith Bernhardt on October 2, 2008 at 9:31am
I remember several years ago, Continental Airlines hired "stand up comics"
for some of their flights.

For a long time, work was considered "serious". there was a time and place for "humor" and "relaxation" Work wasn't a vacation was always the venecular.

We need to escape from time to time and relax, even from work.

This is a good topic, I enjoyed this immensely.




Social Wine Club for Craft Wineries


Ice cream makes a comeback with unusual new flavors

Ice cream shops saw their sales dip 4% from 2008 through 2013, as health-conscious consumers switched to frozen yogurt, but n -More

Grand Cru® Pistachio Crisps with Spicy Red Pepper Jelly
Pistachios pair perfectly with Grand Cru® in this unique, on-trend application. Grand Cru is an award-winning Alpine-style cheese that's crafted to achieve memorable menu items, and this one is no exception. Plus, it is now available in a convenient, slice-on-slice format. Find this and other inventive recipe ideas that will help you create a masterful menu.

Panda Express aims to stay trendy with new store concept

Panda Express opened a new eatery in a Pasadena, Calif., strip mall last month, which doubles as a test kitchen for new menu  -More

3 reasons why "charitable giving" law is good for business

Many restaurateurs already participate in food-donation programs because it's the right thing to do, but may not realize the  -More


Posting a job or finding a job starts here at FohBoh. Call us about special $50 posting packages to syndicate across all major jobs boards.

National News

National Restaurant Association Commends House Passage of Charitable Giving, Anti-Hunger Measures

The National Restaurant Association today applauded members of the House of Representatives for passing H.R. 4719, 'America Gives More Act of 2014.'

NRA Releases Sustainability Report Offering Expert Advice and Money-Saving Tips

The National Restaurant Association has issued a new report focused on sustainability best practices for the foodservice industry.

Meritage Reports Second Quarter 2014 Results

Sales increased 15.4% to $40.5 million from $35.1 million for the same period last year.

Kaiser’s Pizza Increases Their Dough With Future POS

Kaiser’s Pizza in Gurnee, IL and Kenosha, WI upgrades to POS Partners, Inc. for higher profits and better service

Carrols Restaurant Group, Inc. Signs Agreement to Purchase 21 Burger King® Restaurants in Upstate New York

Carrols Restaurant Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:TAST) today announced that on July 11, 2014 it signed a definitive agreement to purchase 21 BURGER KING® restaurants from Kessler Group, Inc.


If you are looking for capital to start or grow your restaurant, create the next 501c3, develop and launch the next app for the restaurant industry,or want to help your peers in some meaningful way, we want to know about it.


TED: Ze Frank: Are you human? - Ze Frank (2014)

Have you ever wondered: Am I a human being? Ze Frank suggests a series of simple questions that will determine this. Please relax and follow the prompts. Let's begin …

TED: Heather Barnett: What humans can learn from semi-intelligent slime - Heather Barnett (2014)

Inspired by biological design and self-organizing systems, artist Heather Barnett co-creates with physarum polycephalum, a eukaryotic microorganism that lives in cool, moist areas. What can people learn from the semi-intelligent slime mold? Watch this talk to find out.

TED: Shih Chieh Huang: Sculptures that’d be at home in the deep sea - Shih Chieh Huang (2014)

When he was young, artist Shih Chieh Huang loved taking toys apart and perusing the aisles of night markets in Taiwan for unexpected objects. Today, this TED Fellow creates madcap sculptures that seem to have a life of their own—with eyes that blink, tentacles that unfurl and parts that light up like bioluminescent sea creatures.

TED: Nikolai Begg: A tool to fix one of the most dangerous moments in surgery - Nikolai Begg (2013)

Surgeons are required every day to puncture human skin before procedures — with the risk of damaging what's on the other side. In a fascinating talk, find out how mechanical engineer Nikolai Begg is using physics to update an important medical device, called the trocar, and improve one of the most dangerous moments in many common surgeries.

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service