"Humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind."
It's also reminiscent of Louis Armstrong's
"Man, if you gotta ask you'll never know"
Is it really possible to develop a sense of humour by reading a list of bullet points, action plans and self-help advice? I'm not really convinced that this isn't a really brilliant, very subtle joke on a completely higher level.
I can't decide whether this is funnier if posted by someone in earnest, or if posted in total seriousness. I think that's the joke.
So structured learning of "un-learnable" fields can pay off, though your intent, desire, and actions all have to be aligned. Microsofts attempts to introduce humor to the workplace could legitimately be successful if they really really followed through, sponsoring weekly sitcom watching parties, making jokes in email signatures the internal norm, etc.
What makes this document so sad, is the perception that feelings and enjoyment can be delegated to a memo.
Can you summarize some of the lessons you learned?
That's what they do, after all. As much as people protest that you can't dissect a joke, comedians and humor writers pull on gloves and end up elbow-deep in the things to improve their craft.
It probably started out that way.
To some extent, of course. When you know enough about how frogs work, you can make a new frog. I don't think humour is any different to writing or music in this case. In particular,
>There are some basic humor tactics. Use exaggeration, use reversal, be brief. Cut out unnecessary words.
This is good advice. Someone who paid attention to it could improve their ability to tell jokes. It's neither necessary nor sufficient, but it's a start.
Sometimes the frog dies in amusing ways. See http://xkcdexplained.com/
EDIT: I remembered this a little incorrectly. The story is called "Jokester", from the book Earth Is Room Enough. Someone has it in a Word document online (on the first page of hits).
Odd: I just came across a similar analogy in Cory Doctorow's "Eastern Standard Tribe":
"The difference between reading a story and studying a story is the difference between living the story and killing the story and looking at its guts."
Can recognize the humor in Microsoft publishing strict guidelines documenting requirements for various "proficiency" levels in humor. Microsoft spent money doing this. Money that came ultimately from Windows license revenue. Can barely hold back tears at the thought of this.
All of us will find ourselves in bad situations from time to time. Good intentions gone bad. Impossible tasks and goals. Hopeless projects. Even though you probably can’t perform well, the key is to at least take away some lessons and insights. Was there anything ironic, odd, or downright funny in all of this?
Trapped on the thirty-second floor of Microsoft Documentation Complex 27B/6, Will Burnham shuddered, silently, and wept.
I must be an expert because this page is hilarious.
Particularly the fact that they suggest learning to shoot skeet.
The entire list of 'competencies' is here:
It probably started as your typical big-company CYA in case someone tries to sue them for HR-related stuff and grew into this monster as some middle manager began empire-building.
There's even a wheel, in case you felt like making a poster: (pdf) http://download.microsoft.com/download/3/4/7/3477e49d-315d-4...
I was about to post the same discovery, but you beat me to it. Bah! And +1!
So... it's edgy humor in the form of a terrifying practical joke? Maybe Andy Kaufman didn't die after all.
All other things being equal, wouldn’t you rather have a manager or co-worker with a good sense of humor than one without? Therefore, don’t employees with good senses of humor deserve to be paid more than the humorless ones? If Microsoft doesn’t recognize and reward how employee-led humor adds value to their stakeholders, then all the employees with good senses of humor will bolt the company, attracted by the free clown suits that Google offers.
However, in some circles this may be frowned up on as an insult on the readers intelligence.
Even if you make people laugh following these guidelines to the letter, would you have a sense of humor?
Bad things happen to everyone, sometimes because of what we do and sometimes with help from us. We all have bad bosses, bad staffs, impossible and hopeless situations, impossible tasks, and unintended consequences. Aside from the trouble these bad things cause for you, the key is how can you learn from each of them.
Learning From Bad Situations
All of us will find ourselves in bad situations from time to time. Good intentions gone bad. Impossible tasks and goals. Hopeless projects. Even though you probably can’t perform well, the key is to at least take away some lessons and insights. Was there anything ironic, odd, or downright funny in all of this?"
Hmm, the Internet Explorer team wrote this? At least they've proven their "Level 1: Basic" proficiency by being able to laugh at themselves and their hopeless predicament.
It's a weird day when you have to write such a comment :)
In a different row, level two, 'Intermediate,' includes: "Uses humor to boost morale or decrease tension."
Similarly, level one includes "Is conscientious about timing and setting for humor," and level three, 'Advanced,' includes "Realizes when and where humor will backfire, and withholds."
If this were a real skill being assessed, that kind of redundancy would be a problem. In fact, it probably wouldn't be there at all, because the person writing it would sense that something was a level-one trait or a level-three trait. But when you start down the path of bullshit like this, you find yourself in the land of arbitrariness, and pretty soon you're just desperate for some more words to fill up the boxes.
And it is, indeed, bullshit. A good sense of humor is important in the workplace, as it is everywhere, but it's not something that can be assessed in some abstract way like this, separate from the person's other qualities.
"In a seemingly serious situation, what nuggets of humor or irony can I find?"
How many points do I get for encouraging near party atmospheres because of my comfort with using alcohol?
I was ripping on the sterility and general uselessness of corporate so-called "humor" by describing a behavior that would be offensive and bizarre in normal interaction, but hilarious and awesome within a corporate context (because of its offensiveness and, therefore, its departure from what is expected).