Presentation Humour

It’s only a joke!

I am in the UK this week, and the papers today are rife with the story of Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand’s antics on national radio, making obscene prank calls to a 78 year old actor.

Apparently the BBC received 2 complaints on the day, but thanks to the wonder of podcasting they have now received 10,000 complaints, including from the British Prime Minister. Admittedly some of this is the typical British reaction to Ross’s Salary ($10 million a year), but it’s also quite clear that the calls were not seen as funny by a lot of people.

Despite the fact that Ross and Brand are entertainers and not business presenters there are, I think, some lessons to be learned about comedy in presentations:

  • Jokes can backfire
  • What I find funny you may not
  • There is always a butt to every joke
  • Podcasting compounds our errors, think before you speak and think carefully before you cast!

Presenters use humour to “break the ice” and warm up the audience. I tend to do this myself, particularly when delivering training courses, but you need to judge humour carefully, and be very sensitive to the audience. As Ross and Brand would probably agree, humour is a double edged sword.

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