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Microsoft® Humor® 2010 Enterprise Edition
April 29, 2010 11:50 PM   Subscribe

Having trouble understanding or producing humor? Microsoft is here to help.
posted by lifeless (70 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
First post!
posted by elwoodwiles at 11:58 PM on April 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


This is definitely proof of something, but I can't figure out what - probably the impending collapse of human civilization.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:58 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was really hoping this would be a songsmith like application for helping people make punchlines, but then I'm biased.
posted by mrzarquon at 12:00 AM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Isn't Windows enough of a joke?
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 12:01 AM on April 30, 2010


The International Society for Humor Studies.
posted by - at 12:02 AM on April 30, 2010


Learning on the Job
...
...Practice learning frivolous and fun skills (like juggling, square dancing, skeet shooting
Don't try this in your cubicle
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 12:02 AM on April 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


It looks like you're writing comedy. Would you like heckling?

• Get help with writing the material
• Just tell the joke without help

_ Don't come to where you work and knock the broom out of your hand
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:10 AM on April 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


I've written humorous content for msn-affiliated sites on and off since 2003 and I have never seen this?

I think I have a core incompetency...
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:17 AM on April 30, 2010


My friends and I were trying to explain the difference between growers and showers to a group of girls, and this seemed like the most alien concept to them. Frustratingly, one of the asked, "Wait, what's a grower again?" I looked at her and said, "Microsoft." I got a bunch of puzzled looks.

I need to hang out with a dorkier crowd.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 12:18 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is the tenth comment. I am drunk right now.
posted by finite at 12:28 AM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


and this seemed like the most alien concept to them

Damn those tentacle-equipped space assholes!
posted by maxwelton at 12:28 AM on April 30, 2010


Bullshit. There's only one way to make humour really work in the workplace, and that's to laugh at your own jokes. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.
posted by seanyboy at 12:39 AM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


The day Microsoft makes something that doesn't suck is probably the day they start making vacuum cleaners.
posted by netbros at 12:42 AM on April 30, 2010 [15 favorites]


I find Microsoft's strategies for overdoing humor most helpful.
posted by The Potate at 12:46 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do I ever encourage a near party atmosphere because of my comfort with using humor?

God, I hate it when that happens.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 12:51 AM on April 30, 2010


This seems to be adapted from the Lominger competencies, which we use at my job as well. Our humor competency thingy is even better, though! Check this:

7. Studying humor. Read How to Be Funny by Jon Macks and Laughing Matters by Joel Goodman, Saratoga Springs, NY: The HUMOR Project at Sagamore Institute, 1982. Go to three comedy performances at a local comedy club to study how the professionals do it. Study funny people in your organization. What do they do that you don't? Buy all the Dilbert and Far Side books. Cut out 10 from each that really are funny to you. Use them in your presentations and hang them in your office and see how others react.

8. Being funnier. There are some basic humor tactics. Use exaggeration, like when Bill Cosby exited the doctor's office in his new trifocals and began an odyssey through a mile-long elevator and across a newly terrifying street. Use reversal, where you turn the situation into its opposite-the paranoid who thinks the world's out to do her good; or the speaker who turned eight ways to help people succeed in their careers into eight ways to ruin the careers of your enemies. Physical or pratfall humor works, such as when your hand hits the microphone and lets out a loud boom and you say, "Sorry, Mike." Be brief. Cut out unnecessary words. Humor condenses the essential elements of a situation, just as good writing does. If the time of day or the color of the sky or city it happened in is not relevant, leave it out. Include touches, however, to set a mood. If heat is essential to the humor, let the listener see sweat pouring off people, flowers wilting, whatever it takes to set the stage. Be on the lookout for the ridiculous around you. Jot down funny things that happen around you so you can remember them.

9. Humbling exercises. Play silly games (draw a picture with your eyes shut, play any of a number of board games devoted to laughter such as Pictionary®). Play with small children and let them take the lead. Be willing to make a fool of yourself at off-sites, picnics and parties. Volunteer to dress in the clown costume and have employees throw water balloons at you. Learn and demonstrate the Macarena at the company picnic!

posted by clipperton at 12:51 AM on April 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Is irony covered in depth later? Irony is mentioned but not "defined" or explained as a topic. The river of irony runs deep and wide.
posted by brando_calrissian at 12:52 AM on April 30, 2010


Humor that unites people rather than puts down people or groups is always safe.

I'm not sure what kind of humor in itself could unite people. The opposite of putting people down, for me, is to cleverly confound them with your humor implying that you respect they will get it.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:53 AM on April 30, 2010


I've figured it out. This was a leaked document. Microsoft is actually a borg-like species that is taking us over by using software.

First they get the resources, then they dictate our emotions, then they get the planet.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:59 AM on April 30, 2010


"Cut out Avoid unnecessary words."

Oddly, that is one of the longest bullets in the entire article...
posted by zachlipton at 1:05 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Lominger-like enterpriseification of the basic traits that make us human is surprisingly fertile ground for (unintentional) hilarity. Microsoft® Love® Home Premium, I await thee.
posted by lifeless at 1:11 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Lominger Competencies sounds like the title of a parody of a Ludlum novel. Or should be. (But then, The Ludlum Formula sounds like the title of a parody of a Ludlum novel.)
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:21 AM on April 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


Be willing to make a fool of yourself at off-sites, picnics and parties. Volunteer to dress in the clown costume and have employees throw water balloons at you. Learn and demonstrate the Macarena at the company picnic!

Then they'll have to respect me!
posted by minifigs at 1:27 AM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Overdoing Humor
•May disrupt group process with untimely or inappropriate humor
•May use humor to deflect real issues and problems
•May use humor to criticize others and veil an attack
•May use humor to deliver sarcasm or cynicism
•May be perceived as immature or lacking in appropriate seriousness
•His/her humor may be misinterpreted


Shut up.
posted by Splunge at 1:34 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Knock knock jokes ought to be enough for anybody.
posted by knave at 1:35 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


My sense of humor is entirely inappropriate for the work place.
posted by empath at 1:36 AM on April 30, 2010


To me, putting a dilbert cartoon in your presentation is like anti-humor. Dilbert hasn't been funny for years.
posted by empath at 1:37 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is this one of those Kobayashi-Maru-type lessons?
posted by polymodus at 1:39 AM on April 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


It looks like you are trying to be funny...
posted by vac2003 at 1:43 AM on April 30, 2010


Bill Gates walks into a bar and says something to the bartender. Then the bartender parses the statement incorrectly and returns an ambiguous response.

Am I an Expert yet?
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:44 AM on April 30, 2010 [20 favorites]


Official corporate guidelines on how to understand and simulate basic human behaviours? More than anything, this just seems like evidence of institutional autism.
posted by him at 1:54 AM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Q: What's brown and sticky?
A: A problem has been detected and Windows has been shut down to prevent damage to your computer.
posted by pracowity at 2:03 AM on April 30, 2010 [22 favorites]


Unconscious Humor

For example where a topic is treated in a supposedly authoritative but clumsy, plodding, and over-literal way which betrays an essential incomprehension of which the author is blithely unaware. Produces an incongruous effect which generates a potentially alienating form of wry amusement in a sophisticated audience. See also Laughing at vs laughing with.
posted by Phanx at 2:05 AM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Good reading. I practice my humorous lines in the two and a half minutes it takes for my PC to start up.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:14 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


The work place is totally inappropriate for my sense of humor.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:15 AM on April 30, 2010


Oh hey, they've got one about tracking the life of a legislative bill.

legislative Bill, get it? Oh this is a comedy goldmine. What say we take this to the Edinburgh fringe, chaps?
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:21 AM on April 30, 2010


Didn't know there was a course in 'Dad humour'.

I'm surprised part of the advice isn't how to 'joke' with the waitress inappropriately and embarassingly. 'AH, come one! I was just having some fun! She loved the joke about the shredded tweet!'
posted by litleozy at 2:26 AM on April 30, 2010


empath: Dilbert hasn't been funny for years.

And you've read it every day for years? I mean, that's the only way you'd know. I have, as part of my morning ritual, and FWIW, I think it is still occasionally "funny". Very rarely ha-ha funny, but sometimes clever enough, or identifiable enough for a brief smile and a semi-chucklish "humf". Can't really expect more from syndicated comics. To be fair, it used to be funnier more often, so I'll agree that it has peaked. Still not without any value, though.

I've got a couple pretty recent ones pinned to a wall at my workspace, ones regarding the engineer-client dynamic that I can very much identify with. Identifiable situations have, after all, been Dilbert's forte ever since it moved near-exclusively to an office setting, and careful use of these selected strips can be used to drive some point home in a presentation. (Although, if you have to use comic strips in your presentation to make your point, your presentation probably isn't very good to begin with.)

Besides, if you're a joyless enterprise drone and still feel the need to use humor in your business presentations, you're better off outsourcing that to a Dilbert strip than attempting any yourself.
posted by lifeless at 2:33 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Restaurant talk for male parents 101

Step 1: Ask waitress her name
Step 1b: If waitress arrives and say "Hello! I'm Candi and I will be your waitress!" say "Hello Candi! I will be your customer!". Much laughter from everyone*
Step 2: Proceed to make some poor/unbelievably witty word play with her name "Well Candi, you must be sweet!"
Step 3: Tell a joke, somehow, anyhow. You've already broken the ice so everyone will enjoy it "My aren't you thin! Did you hear the one about the skeleton who didn't go to the party? He had nobody to go with!" {note: if no one answers your questions, do not worry. Everyone is enjoying themselves and they don't want to risk breaking your flow.}
Step 4: When ordering food (eventually) ask humorous questions. "Ah I see you have the sea bass! I bet he didn't 'see' the boat coming! Otherwise you wouldn't have caught him! Because he would have sean you!

Remember: include personal embarassing details as much as possible. People like to know the person they're talking to. For example, if you and your wife have just had a fight, make light of it with the waitress!

posted by litleozy at 2:38 AM on April 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


And you've read it every day for years?

I've glanced at it once or twice. I assume if it were actually still funny, someone I know would say "Hey, did you see today's Dilbert?" But it rarely happens. And when it does, its still not funny.
posted by empath at 2:47 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


a dilbert cartoon in your presentation is like anti-humor. Dilbert hasn't been funny for years.

It started out as a farce, but ended up as a documentary. Which is a tragedy, I suppose, which is anti-humor.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:49 AM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


What was it Twain said about dissecting frogs?
posted by henners at 3:14 AM on April 30, 2010


The Slashdot thread about that page will consist of people arguing that they're funnier because they don't have to be told how to be funny, and people arguing that humor is unnecessary and once they stopped having to work in an office they haven't tried to be funny for years. But I'm not going to check to see if I'm right.
posted by ardgedee at 3:48 AM on April 30, 2010


Would somebody mind turning this into a Powerpoint slideshow? Because those crack me the fuck up.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:41 AM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sounds like the best thing since Songsmith!
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:50 AM on April 30, 2010


Re: Dilbert Unfunny: This was kind of funny.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:51 AM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Restaurant talk for male parents 101

Horrifyingly on-point. Punning patriarchs were the scourge of my serving days.
posted by hegemone at 4:52 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Restaurant talk for male parents 101

I want to go home. No, I'm not hungry any more.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:27 AM on April 30, 2010


"It looks like you're trying to be funny."
posted by jquinby at 5:28 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, but this would not be their first time dabbling in the comedic arts: Microsoft Relationship Support
posted by thebordella at 5:37 AM on April 30, 2010


HEY! That page wasn't funny.
OK, this one isn't either.
posted by Drasher at 5:53 AM on April 30, 2010


I gave a presentation on flag varieties once. Before the start of the talk, I had the Monty Python bit about the Semafore translation of Wuthering Heights running on the projector.

The joke worked well, though flag varieties have nothing to do with actual flags. (It's a point inside a line inside a plane inside a... If you draw it right, it looks like a flag, and I've always figured that's where the name comes from.)
posted by kaibutsu at 5:56 AM on April 30, 2010


Tries to diffuse tense situations with appropriate humor

Oh! Haha!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:22 AM on April 30, 2010


Microsoft isn't so much a joke teller, but is an expert at situation comedy.
posted by mazola at 6:23 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Level 3, line 3: Realizes when and where humor will backfire, and withholds

"Hey! What are you staring at?! What's so funny?!"
"Your mother's... "Nothing."
posted by Tuesday After Lunch at 6:39 AM on April 30, 2010


It started out as a farce, but ended up as a documentary

The Godwinesque rule about either drama or comedy is that the longer it goes on, the probability it becomes a soap opera approaches 1.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:41 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Once I went to go see Scott Adams talk, and he shared with us one of his secrets of writing a comic strip. He had a formula, you see:

First panel: Sets up the joke
Second panel: Small punchline
Third panel: Even bigger punchline

Every Dilbert strip follows this formula. There, now I've ruined it for you.
posted by Comrade_robot at 6:52 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


It looks like you're writing comedy.

It looks like you are trying to be funny...

"It looks like you're trying to be funny."


Okay guys. It looks like you're trying to be funny.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:55 AM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


What Microsoft doesn't realize is that in this very article they could have had humor because as Colbert has proven, bulletpoints naturally enhance humor. Something about the staccato way the brain reads them lends them import and therefore comedic timing is inherent in their structure. Powerpoint, with the aid of bulletpoints, is the perfect program to create presentations for your friends and family such as-

• "So, No One Loves You and You'll Likely Die Alone"
• "That Itching is Not Likely to Go Away on its Own"
• "You'll Never Guess What Happened on Two and a Half Men Last Night"
• "What is a Juggalo? (A Primer)"
• "Taters/Tators- A Competency Guide"
posted by haveanicesummer at 7:43 AM on April 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Clipperton's comment is like a guide to how to be Michael Scott.
posted by grouse at 8:26 AM on April 30, 2010


Recommended Readings
...
• Bing, Stanley. What Would Machiavelli Do? The Ends Justify the Meanness. New York: HarperBusiness, 2002.


That explains so much.
posted by zarq at 9:02 AM on April 30, 2010


Am I funnier than I think I am? Less funny? Who will give me an honest assessment of my sense of humor?

Here's a clue. If you ever ask anyone for an honest assessment of your sense of humor, you are probably less funny than you think you are.
posted by Think_Long at 9:58 AM on April 30, 2010


I still like Dilbert. I still despise Microsoft.
posted by blucevalo at 10:32 AM on April 30, 2010


zachlipton: "Cut out Avoid unnecessary words."

Eschew surplusage.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:32 PM on April 30, 2010


The idea of some middle manager going to an MS eduction reference list to bone up on humor competency is just too depressing to contemplate. It's like a production of Death of a Salesman starring Dilbert as Mr. Loman on a beige set wallpapered with Hang In There and I Hate Mondays posters.
posted by Babblesort at 12:41 PM on April 30, 2010


The problem with using jokes in the office (even if you're good at it) is that humor is all about getting at uncomfortable truths, while working in an office is all about avoiding uncomfortable truths in order to obtain some future reward. So there's a limit to how far it can go. If the jokes are too pointed and accurate it just reminds everyone that they're slaving away in an office instead of doing something more enjoyable, and that's just depressing. Maybe that's why Dilbert is so bland.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:19 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


humor is all about getting at uncomfortable truths

The uncomfortable truth in this situation is that that's kind of more of a generalization than is probably supportable.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:44 PM on April 30, 2010


Fuck humour.
posted by DonnyMac at 8:15 PM on April 30, 2010


If it bends, it's funny...
posted by mazola at 8:26 PM on April 30, 2010


All right, then. The best humor is about getting at uncomfortable truths in a socially sanctioned way. Bad humor gets at truths that everyone already knows.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:27 PM on April 30, 2010


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