The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries is not ‘Eureka!’ (I found it!) but ‘That’s funny…’ — Isaac Asimov
The best humor goes beyond amusement. It can help people see the world from a new point of view and help people change the way they think. The humorist is a gadfly in the best sense of the word, one who annoys the powerful but provokes positive action. Even when kings wielded absolute power, they had the licensed fool or court jester to provide them with the truth in a humorous way. Considering how important humor is, it’s interesting that Donald Trump does not laugh. Below I have some humorous things that make you think and some things that are just funny.
- Some of my favorite humor takes something familiar and looks at it from a different perspective. If you spell American backward and you get “Narcirema.” In Body Ritual among the Nacirema, an anthropologist wrote about Americans from an outsider’s perspective. For some other funny perspectives look at: From C-3PO’s perspective, ‘Star Wars’ is a prolonged nightmare, It’s Time to Admit That Allowing Men Into the Workplace after WWII Was a Mistake, and Zach Morris is Trash
- Some funny videos make great points about work. For anyone who wants to show adding people to a project isn’t better, look at this video of 3 professional soccer players against 100 kids. And for anyone who tells you that kids are just better with technology, look at this video of kids trying to dial a rotary phone.
- Instead of naming their WiFi network something boring like “Schlaff WiFi,” some people have very funny names for their WiFi like “Girls Gone Wireless,” “Mom, Click Here for Internet,” “Definitely Not An FBI Surveillance Van,” “WeCanHearYouHavingSex,” or “C:Virus.exe.”
- Aziz Ansari had a great Netflix special that’s not only funny and thoughtful but tackles his #MeToo debacle head on.
- Chess Boxing is a sport that involves alternating rounds of boxing and chess.
- Spurious Correlations reminds us that just because two things are correlated, doesn’t mean that they have anything to do with each other (e.g., in the years that Nicholas Cage is in more films the number of pool drownings increases). Here’s a great New Yorker cartoon on the topic.
- This guy photoshops himself into Kendall Jenner’s Instagram with wonderful results.
- Jay Forman can sing songs one syllable off. So the notes stay in the same place but the words move.
- Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (soundtrack on Amazon Music) was a project of Joss Whedon, Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day during the writers strike of 2008. They also created an alternative musical commentary soundtrack that you can get on Amazon Prime.
- In a wonderful send-up of the “Ted Talk” trope, Will Stephen shows how to sound smart at your TED Talk even when you literally don’t have anything to say.
- Before Alexa and Google, we had corporate telephone systems to talk with. In 2002, NPR had a Valentine’s Day story about Tom, the United Airlines telephone system, getting set up with Julie from Amtrak.
- Camille Fournier, the former CTO of Rent the Runway, has a great parody called The Very Model of a Modern Exec-Technical set to the theme of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Major-General song.
- My friend Aaron Gertler played a good prank and became the expert on Microsoft Word on LinkedIn.
- Spurious Correlations is a great place to remind you that just because two things are correlated, doesn’t mean that they have anything to do with each other (e.g., Nicholas Cage films vs. Pool Drownings).
- Michael Hearst created a music album with lyrics written by famous people. When Michael Chabon sent a rejection letter, Hearst set that to music.