That’s not funny

When humour goes wrong, and by its very nature it sometimes will, you must first identify the problem.

  • If it’s not funny – never apologise.
  • If it has offended – always apologise.

When you’re telling jokes, try your best. If that doesn’t work – try someone else’s best.

Sammy Cahn

The joke that doesn’t muster a smile and is met by that steely silence, should never make you sorry. Simply consider it feedback.

But, and it’s a big but...

The joke that riles someone’s sensibility – whether you agree with them or not – should be apologised for.

In the workplace, policies and litigation favour the person who has been offended. The fact you did not intend your humour to be toxic doesn’t matter. The perceived offence takes precedence. Better to eat crow and hope for tolerance.

All the more reason to be sure your choice of joke is relevant to the work at hand.

The risks are many, but with foresight and finesse the After Laughter Effect (ALE) is well worth it.