Did Someone Say “Affiliative Humor”?

December 1, 2023

Probably not you! Unless you’re a comedy scholar. Even though I’ve written about this before, with the holiday season upon us, full of socializing and “partying,” it feels like a great time to review the value of humor that makes people feel good.

We get asked all the time about the kind of comedy we use to engage people for our events. Usually, they’re not asking simply out of curiosity. More out of fear. These are sensitive times, and although certain mean-spirited comedians might be killing it on Netflix, companies and senior communities can’t risk some rogue wisenheimer coming into their space, virtual or otherwise, and launching a roast.

Fortunately, at Laughter On Call, that is literally the last thing we would do. Even when people are sarcastic or worse to us. Even when they throw out inappropriate suggestions for Improv games, like the year we ran an after-work drunken Christmas party. One of the attendees yelled “Five Things You’d Never Tell Your Husband!” to one of my people. Before she could respond, her LOC partner replied with “New choice!” I can’t tell you how much I love this Improv tool. The idea that I could be in conversation and feel like something a person asked me was offensive and say “New choice!” instead of answering is like a dream come true! Can’t do it in life, yet, but as a company we definitely pull this out when needed. We will sooner remove a guest from a room than engage in anything that might offend.

It’s not that we lack edge as individual comedians, it’s just that we understand that our mission is to make people feel better when they leave than when they came in. You don’t have to be Freud to know that the way to achieve this is definitely not by insulting people. It’s done best by creating a space where people can be a little silly, a little vulnerable, and a lot authentic. By exposing unique details about ourselves we are finding other people who share them. Which is, in fact, the definition of affiliative humor. According to the website Humor That Works, it is “a way of amusing others to facilitate relationships. It is positive and inclusive.”

Wishing you an affiliative humor-filled holiday season. May you find peace, love and people with whom you share lots of joyful laughter.