Turning something on its head to see the reverse viewpoint is the 1st humour technique in the Funny Business series. With reversal, humour comes from a surprise twist, diverting our thoughts away from the expected logic.
Here’s a silly little joke that demonstrates this example: What’s the stupidest animal in the jungle? The polar bear!
The humorous twist in a situation can then be harnessed and used to explore a challenge with a new perception.
Here’s the blueprint to follow:
1. Find the opposite. This can be as simple as throwing the word ‘not’ in there. You might also reverse the typical order and assumptions. The way the challenge is reversed is not important; it just needs to defy the implied expectation.
2. Raise the humour stakes. The reversed logic may stimulate associated thoughts and ideas that can make the situation even more laughable.
3. Extract the themes and concepts. Find the essence of the reversal by breaking it down into clearly defined concepts that can be further explored.
4. Find the truth. The challenge is to find a way in which the extracted themes and concepts can be applied with renewed logic in order to arrive at a creative solution.
We’ll apply the reversal blueprint to the following business related challenge, which is something close to my heart: ’Making training more memorable’
Example 1= Being made to forget the training… perhaps by a hypnotist.
This could be made funny if the training was conducted under hypnosis and certain trigger words subsequently caused hilarious actions, such chicken noises and all the usual hypnotist tricks, in tense business negotiations! The truth here is that methods from the science of mental conditioning could be used to implant trigger words that bring vivid memories of the training experiences flooding back.
Example 2= Make it so participants are not able to listen to/hear the training.
This might lead to the absurd idea of a company employing a mime to deliver a typical business skills training session. The truth here is that the visual message would have to be very powerful in order to make it meaningful. Perhaps training could employ much more visual ways of communicating in order to make lessons stick? This would be particularly useful for a subject that is traditionally somewhat less than enthralling.
Example 3= Provide training at the end of a project instead of the beginning.
This might be made funny if a manager is on a huge power trip and wants to make themselves look better and cover their back with a smarmy, “I told you so” or “this is what I would have done” attitude. The truth here is that work can be rife with conflict and blame. This could lead to the idea of providing training that’s rings true as is based on real life scenarios. Training would not only deal with the required skills but how to overcome potential social pitfalls with the right attitudes and team spirit.
Next up in the Funny Business series is a slightly different take on reversal… the role reversal!