“In today’s overworked, under-appreciated, stress-filled, sleep-deprived culture, humour is a necessity,” says the world’s first Humour Engineer Andrew Tarvin. After quitting his job as IT project manager at P&G, Andrew travelled the globe, trying to teach people the importance of humour in the workplace. He says, “People think of humour as a nice-to-have…The reality is that humour is a must-have. Because humour gets people to listen, it increases long-term memory retention, it improves understanding, aids in learning and helps communicate messages,” and so much more, he explains.
Tarvin says: “So many people have this perception as if the ability to make people laugh is somehow encoded in our DNA. But the reality is that humour is a skill, and if it’s a skill that means we can learn it.” He recounts his experience in being part of an improv group in college, and how it helped him learn major lessons in life.
“From stand-up”, he says, “we can learn about how to share your point of view…We can share a perspective as a way to connect. We can also share a perspective as a way to make a point.” “From improv, we can learn how we can explore and heighten a point of view. Because the fundamental mindset of improvisation is ‘yes, and…’,” he explains. “If we can use it to create humour, we can also use it as a way to connect with other people.” Lastly, he says we can “learn about the importance of commitment to performance.”
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Tarvin concludes saying: “The reality is that job satisfaction, your outlook, your way of managing stress is entirely your responsibility and is the choice that you make. And this is a skill of humour. It starts by sharing your point of view, and then we explore and heighten that point of view. And we ‘yes-and’ both our work and our life, and finally we practise, perform and repeat, because that’s how we get better.”
“Anyone can learn to be funnier. And it all starts with a choice, a choice to try to find ways to use humour,” he ends.
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