Uses of Humour

The Uses of Humour

Part of the Take Control of the Hole series to help you become a Talkaoke Host

Humour is a powerful tool in Talkaoke. It can break the ice, change the mood and help participants feel relaxed and bond. And it makes Talkaoke more fun!

Quite often the joke gives a different perspective and that is really useful in Talkaoke. Let me give you an example.


Grandma: Sorry I know I shouldn’t call you while you are driving, but I just heard on the radio that there’s a car driving the wrong way up the motorway

Grandad: It’s not just one. There’s hundreds of them.


This joke is about different perspectives. There are 3 perspectives. Grandma, who is worried about the threat to Grandad. Grandad who is worried about the threat from all the cars, and us who are worried about the threat of Grandad. Our perspective seems more objective because we see how subjective Grandma and Grandad’s views are. It has a wider perspective but it is not objective.


Take this visual joke about whether it’s a 6 or a 9 on the floor.

We think it’s funny because we can tell that they are both right, and this seems  objective, but how do we know that there is not another number behind our view which gives more context to the 6/9 and tells us which way round it is. What is a giant number doing on the floor anyway? Maybe it’s not a number at all but some kind of fallen machine part.


Why am I getting into this esoteric argument? Humour is often useful to widen the perspective, but it doesn’t give an objective perspective. People always believe they are right and the other is wrong, but what if they are both right and both wrong? Humour can jar us out of our usual way of seeing things show us that our viewpoint will always be incomplete.


More than any other tool in the Talkaoke box, there is a right way and a wrong way to do humour. There is always a target of any joke. In Talkaoke the best target is you, the host. Be quick to own any misunderstanding. It can be valuable. More often the target of the humour is not at the table, hopefully a general group of people, an institution, or greater power. If you think that anyone around the table would associate with the target of the humour, then don’t crack the joke. You can sometimes get away with if they are they obviously the more powerful participant. However if you feel there is a joke there then try to set it up for someone else to crack, especially if they are the perceived target of the humour or might get offended. Remember when other people want to crack jokes they may not be so sensitive. You may find yourself tidying up potentially offensive jokes in a fun way before offence is taken. If someone is offended you have to go there and explore why they got offended, even if it changes the mood. Normally the offence is about misconception, or prejudice towards a particular group.

Most humour is actually not jokes but funny stuff around misunderstandings, word play, or links between disparate subjects in the conversation. Also you can invoke the absurdity of the Talkaoke situation as a way to address the absurdities of life in a more “objective” way.

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