From the Publisher
According to the latest studies in adult learning theory, an environment that encourages spontaneity and a sense of humor can increase knowledge retention considerably. Successful trainers are beginning to realize that getting participants relaxed enough to become engaged in the subject matter--and even have a little fun with it--can produce serious results.
In Laugh and Learn, author Doni Tamblyn draws on her experience working with Fortune 500 clients such as Chevron Corp and Wells Fargo Bank to show how teachers and training professionals can inject elements of emotion, humor, and creativity into their programs in order to spark engagement and understanding in their classes and training sessions.
If anyone should know about the use of comedy in a classroom setting, its Tamblyn. Having started as a professional stand-up comedienne, she first came into the world of training when hired by the State of California to teach traffic school. Surprisingly, she and her staff of 48 professional comics did not tell jokes! Instead, they facilitated fun games that let their learners wrestle and play with the curriculum, think creatively about it--and get laughs from each other. The response to the program was overwhelming--one student even asked if he needed to get another ticket in order to come back--and it was from that experience that Tamblyn realized just how much an intelligent use of humor could facilitate adult learning.
Since then, Tamblyn has made a name for herself working with major organizations, becoming a frequently requested speaker at training conferences, and sharing a stunning revelation: that even trainers who dont consider themselves to be naturally funny can use humor to draw participants in, help them think fast on their feet, and problem solve creatively.
In Laugh and Learn, Tamblyn demonstrates with wit and keen insight how educators must foster a sense of intrinsic motivation among learners, getting them in on the act themselves and encouraging their own personal involvement in the material. The book is packed with 95 practical "rules," including:
· Dont try to be funny--just try to have fun
· Focus out, not in--and let participants get in on the act
· Use positive humor, and avoid sarcasm like the plague
· Always acknowledge the "Bomb" (when humor falls flat)
Laugh and Learn features dozens of exercises and thought-provoking games, as well as a special One-A-Day Plan on how trainers can boost their own Humor Quotient. Filled with ideas, tips, and valuable information, Laugh and Learn is a smart, one-of-a-kind book no trainer should be without.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Youve Got to Start Here: What Is Humor, Anyway?
In This Chapter
Why you dont have to be a stand-up comic to be an excellent humorist
How humor and creative thinking are the same thing, and how youre naturally expert at both
How perfectionism can keep you from doing your best
Why corporate America needs people to "noodle around" more
A wealthy businessman was vacationing on the Riviera, when one day he got a call from home. It was his butler.
"I am very sorry to inform you of this, Sir," he said, "but I thought you should know right away. Your beloved cat somehow got onto the roof and fell. I am afraid the animal is deceased."
Expecting grief at this news, the butler was startled at his employers response: "Hey! Hey! Dont they teach you anything in butler school?" Before his servant could reply the man went on: "You dont just spring stuff like that on people. You always give bad news by degrees. What you should have done is send me a series of telegrams. The first one says, Your cat is on the roof. Then the next one: Cat fallen off roof. Then another one: Cat in critical condition; prognosis poor. Then, when Im prepared, you understand, I get: Cat deceased. See? Thats how you give someone bad news. Jeez."
The butler, of course, could only apologize profusely and assure his employer this gaffe would never occur again. The businessman tried to put the whole thing out of his mind and enjoy the rest of his holiday as best he could. A week later, just as he was starting to relax once more, he received a telegram. It said:
"Your mother is on the roof."
The reason I share the above joke with you (besides the fact that its my all-time favorite) is that it illustrates the fundamental fact on which this whole book is based: It doesnt work to know the letter of the law and not the spirit. In other words, you can learn all the right moves, but, like the business mans butler, you can still get it wrong. Take humor, for instance. People have trouble pinning it down. Indeed, humor seems to be like artits hard to define, but you know what you like. Ever hear someone tell a joke, and then hear a listener say, "Thats not funny, thats sick"? You just witnessed a clash in definitions. So lets take an important moment to define our terms: What is humor?
The case against teaching through stand-up comedy
In presenting this topic to thousands of people, I have always started by asking attendees to raise their hands if they think they tell great jokes. In virtually every group (worldwide, by the way), at least 95% of the audience sits in resolute stillness. I then ask them to raise their hands if they like to laugh, like people who dont take themselves too seriously, sometimes wish the whole world would lighten up a little, and so on. Not surprisingly, virtually every hand goes up. While this hardly constitutes a scientific study, to me it suggests that people instinctively see a difference between humor and joke telling. And there is a difference. Humor is a state or quality. Joke telling is an actiononly one of many actions by which you might express humor. In other words (take a deep breath, now):
You can use humor beautifully and expertly without telling a single joke.
Thats right. Joke telling is fine if you like doing it; it is emphatically not necessary for bringing humor into your learning environment or anywhere else. Never tell a joke in your life, and you will still be able to use humor effectively, appropriately, and without fear.