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


Restaurants may feel the pinch of pricier coffee later this year

Prices for arabica coffee futures hit a 26-month high amid a drought in Brazil, which produces a third of the world's coffee  -More

McDonald's rules out all-day breakfast in push to simplify

McDonald's breakfast menu accounts for 25% of the chain's U.S.  -More

Easy ways to use 5 uncommon spring greens

As light, crisp greens arrive at farmers markets and grocery stores, chefs are finding creative ways to add them to spring me -More


Posting a job or finding a job starts here at FohBoh. Call us about special $25 posting packages to syndicate across all major jobs boards.

National News

National Restaurant Association Offers Training DVDs on Harassment Prevention, Social Media Use, and Customer Service

The National Restaurant Association has released three new DVDs that offer best practices in dealing with harassment and discrimination, customer service training, and the first of its kind video guide on the use of social media.

Yum! Brands Reports First-Quarter EPS Growth of 24% Excluding Special Items

China Division System Sales Increased 17% with Operating Profit Growth of 80%; Yum! Reaffirms Full-Year Guidance of at Lea

Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes Certified As Nation's Largest 'Green' Restaurant Chain

National Group Salutes Country's Only Large Restaurant Group to be 'Certified Green Restaurants®'

National Restaurant Association and EatStreet Release Online Ordering Guide

The National Restaurant Association and EatStreet have released a free educational guide focusing on online ordering and emerging restaurant technology trends.

Boyd's Coffee Launches Single-Cup Coffees For Retail And Foodservice

The coffees come in a variety of roast levels and include organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified™ options: French No. 6®, Red Wagon® Organic Coffee, Good Morning™, Hi-Rev® (delivers more caffeine), and Lost Lake™ Decaf Organic Coffee.


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: Hamish Jolly: A shark-deterrent wetsuit (and it's not what you think) - Hamish Jolly (2013)

Hamish Jolly, an ocean swimmer in Australia, wanted a wetsuit that would deter a curious shark from mistaking him for a potential source of nourishment. (Which, statistically, is rare, but certainly a fate worth avoiding.) Working with a team of scientists, he and his friends came up with a fresh approach — not a shark cage, not a suit of chain-mail, but a sleek suit that taps our growing understanding of shark vision.

TED: Michel Laberge: How synchronized hammer strikes could generate nuclear fusion - Michel Laberge (2014)

Our energy future depends on nuclear fusion, says Michel Laberge. The plasma physicist runs a small company with a big idea for a new type of nuclear reactor that could produce clean, cheap energy. His secret recipe? High speeds, scorching temperatures and crushing pressure. In this hopeful talk, he explains how nuclear fusion might be just around the corner.

TED: Sarah Lewis: Embrace the near win - Sarah Lewis (2014)

At her first museum job, art historian Sarah Lewis noticed something important about an artist she was studying: Not every artwork was a total masterpiece. She asks us to consider the role of the almost-failure, the near win, in our own lives. In our pursuit of success and mastery, is it actually our near wins that push us forward?

TED: Matthew Carter: My life in typefaces - Matthew Carter (2014)

Pick up a book, magazine or screen, and more than likely you'll come across some typography designed by Matthew Carter. In this charming talk, the man behind typefaces such as Verdana, Georgia and Bell Centennial (designed just for phone books -- remember them?), takes us on a spin through a career focused on the very last pixel of each letter of a font.

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service