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


Kids LiveWell atwitter over Twitter party

In its continuing effort to promote more nutritious and flavorful children's menu options, the NRA will hold a Twitter party  -More

Starbucks could become top on-premise wine seller in U.S.

Starbucks is planning to slowly expand its evening sales of wine, beer and small plates to thousands of selected stores throu -More

The evolving nature of snacks

Snacks have shifted from an after-school treat to a meal alternative as meal times become more fragmented.  -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

Wahlburgers Announces Expansion Plans Including Franchise Agreement in Philadelphia

Wahlburgers has signed a franchise agreement with Hingham Associates, LLC that will bring five Wahlburgers to the metropolitan Philadelphia area over the next several years. The franchise group is actively looking at sites and is targeting a late 2014-early 2015 opening for its first restaurant.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. First Quarter 2014 Revenue Up 24.4%

Comparable restaurant sales increased 13.4% - Restaurant level operating margin was 25.9%, a decrease of 40 basis points

Jamba Juice Announces Grand Opening of New St. Louis, MO Location

Jamba Juice Company announced the brand’s continued expansion in the St. Louis market with the opening of a Jamba Juice® store at 11477 Olive Blvd. on April 16, 2014.

Expert in Real Estate Analytics Joins Luna Grill

Luna Grill, the San Diego-based Mediterranean restaurant chain, is welcoming retail real estate industry veteran Greg Thorburn to its leadership team. Thorburn has been brought on board to fill the newly created position of Vice-President of Real Estate.

Rita's Italian Ice Awards Area Development Agreement for Kansas

Rita's Italian Ice has awarded franchise and area development agreements for Kansas and the Kansas City area, which extends to the Missouri side of the city, to franchisees and local residents Jay Miller, Jeff Miller and Pat Reilly.


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: 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.

TED: Jeremy Kasdin: The flower-shaped starshade that might help us detect Earth-like planets - Jeremy Kasdin (2014)

Astronomers believe that every star in the galaxy has a planet, one fifth of which might harbor life. Only we haven't seen any of them -- yet. Jeremy Kasdin and his team are looking to change that with the design and engineering of an extraordinary piece of equipment: a flower petal-shaped "starshade" that allows a telescope to photograph planets from 50,000 kilometers away. It is, he says, the "coolest possible science."

TED: Norman Spack: How I help transgender teens become who they want to be - Norman Spack (2013)

Puberty is an awkward time for just about everybody, but for transgender teens it can be a nightmare, as they grow overnight into bodies they aren't comfortable with. In a heartfelt talk, endocrinologist Norman Spack tells a personal story of how he became one of the few doctors in the US to treat minors with hormone replacement therapy. By staving off the effects of puberty, Spack gives trans teens the time they need. (Filmed at TEDxBeaconStreet.)

TED: Jennifer Senior: For parents, happiness is a very high bar - Jennifer Senior (2014)

The parenting section of the bookstore is overwhelming—it's "a giant, candy-colored monument to our collective panic," as writer Jennifer Senior puts it. Why is parenthood filled with so much anxiety? Because the goal of modern, middle-class parents—to raise happy children—is so elusive. In this honest talk, she offers some kinder and more achievable aims.

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service