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For Fast Forward Weekly: Have more fun at work

Earlier this month I was asked to contribute to Fast Forward Weekly’s annual comedy issue with a snicker-worthy article of my choosing.

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I mused about detailing the benefits of using humour in one’s online dating profile or how it’s good for digestion and acne (probably). But settled on the one thing so many of us have in common: working, avoiding work or wishing we had some work (and how to make that funnier.

Here’s what I came up with!

How to put a punchline on your work day

Originally published in Fast Forward Weekly’s Aug. 8, 2013 edition (the annual comedy issue)

by Zoey Duncan

Going to work is a lot like going on a first date: you’re expected to wear clean clothes, someone always drinks too much, and there’s no guarantee anybody’s going to have much fun.

The luckiest labourers make their own fun while they’re on the clock. I’m not talking about the bartender who plays one-for-you-one-for-me on Tuesday afternoons.

Comedy makes people feel good. And until your financial department approves Tequila Massage Tuesdays, it’s the people who match wits with co-workers and banter with the boss who get the benefits of a good laugh.

• If you’re gainfully employed… (but angling for a better keyboard/corner office)

Whether you’ve written five minutes of standup or merely Facebooked cleverly that one time, you’ve got the potential to put a punchline on your work day. The skills of joke-writing are ideal for punching up those awful third-quarter numbers or designing a safety manual someone might actually read.

Best of all, it’s practical: people remember things better if they laugh after hearing them.

If, like most workers in 2013, your job involves emails, documents or spelling things correctly, use your sense of humour to trick people into paying attention to you.

A witty email, for example, is a refreshing upgrade from the typical e-drivel we all get. You know those emails: you regularly delete them, only to realize you’ve accidentally trained your spam filters to send your boss’ missives directly to the trash. Try starting an email with a Top 5 list, as in “Top 5 Rejected Titles for this Report” or “Top 5 Excuses You’ll Make to Avoid Reading This Entire Email.”

Not included in the article: make yourself laugh with a wince-inducing desktop background at work, such as this Instagram image of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford late one summer night, as displayed on my Calgary Herald workstation until I couldn't stand it anymore.

Not included in the article: make yourself laugh with a wince-inducing desktop background at work, such as this Instagram image of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford late one summer night, as displayed on my Calgary Herald workstation until I couldn’t stand it anymore.

• If you’re painfully employed… (and you’ve forgotten how to care)

When your morning routine begins with complaining about the loud-personal-phone-call-taker in your workplace, it’s time you looked at the situation from a comic point of view. (Note: this is different from a “comic’s point of view,” which is simply “at least you didn’t get heckled today.”)

To dig out amusement from a case of the Mondays, approach the situation from the opposite perspective. What’s the joy in not being able to hear your own thoughts? The delight in a cafeteria egg salad sandwich? The relief in knowing you’ll never retire?

Share your new, hopefully funnier, observations with an unwilling audience for best therapeutic effect.

• If you’re unemployed… (or about to be)

It’s time to put the “wit” into “whittling away your bank account”!

Lightening up your resumé and cover letter with humourous glimpses of your personality will help you stand out amongst applicants who, let’s face it, probably have better fingernails and more LinkedIn connections than you.

And if the college you went to isn’t a joke, bulk up the “education” section of your CV. Take a comedy course and list it there. Trust me, you’ll get callbacks simply because you’re the weirdo who put a comedy class on your resumé.

Finally, jobless or not, write a joke that introduces you and your career aspiration. Make someone laugh when they meet you and they’re more likely to remember your name when they hear about your perfect next job from a friend of a friend of theirs.

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