6 November 2022

Book Review: “Humor, Seriously”

Authors: Jennifer Acker and Naomi Bagdonas

This is a book that I am totally schizophrenic about. I have no recollection about how I found this book. But I know it was not available at iBooks – so I had to read it on Kindle. Ostensibly, the book is about how to use humor as a secret weapon at office.

The initial part was fairly boring to me. It was the part that tried to explain humor in workplace. A lot of it felt theoretical. But also very true. As an example, how you need to be careful about using humor as you go up the hierarchy. Somebody two levels down can make fun of you (especially not in front of you. (The authors call it “punch up”). If you “punch down”, that would be devastating.

Where the book gets a little more interesting to me – somebody who is not funny but unfortunately tries to be is when it dissects what creates humor – (*) Truth (*) Surprise and Misdirection (*) Exaggerate (*) Create Contrast (*) Use Specifics (*) Make Analogies (*) The Rule of Three (*) Build out the world (*) Your signature stories (*) The here and now and my all time favorite (*) Use Callbacks.

Overall, unless you are really serious about understanding how to use humor in leading organizations, I would skip this book.

But whether you read this book or not, I would like to tell you that the way the book ends is outstanding and certainly worth a reminder every single day.

Levity at work and a life well lived share five basic precepts:

1. Boldness: “I wish I had lived more fearlessly.” (To quote Lucille Ball – I am not funny; What I am is brave”
2. Authenticity: “I wish I had loved a life true to myself.” (To quote Tine Fey – Don’t waste your time trying to change opinions. Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.)
3. Presence: “I wish I’d stopped to appreciate the moment more.” (To quote Bill Murray – The last time doesn’t exist. It’s only this time … There’s only now.)
4. Joy: “I wish I had laughed more – and not taken myself so seriously.” (To quote Ellen Degeneres – Do things that make you happy within the confines of the legal system.)
5. Love: “I wish I had the chance to say ‘I love you’ one more time.” (To quote Stephen Colbert – In my experience, you will truly serve only what you love. If you love friends, you will serve your friends. If you love community, you will serve your community. If you love money, you will serve money. And if you love only yourself, you will serve only yourself, and you will have only yourself.)


Posted November 6, 2022 by Rajib Roy in category "Books


  1. By Cristy Thornton on

    Rajib, thank you for sharing! I’ve tried to live the last 14 years (since Jackson) but especially the last 11 (being orphaned at 40) in much this same way…living invincible and having the best life, today.


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