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Mark Hodder

Happiness and success through learning


Michael McIntyre - Affiliative humour


Humour that, ideally, everyone can laugh at.  Affiliative humour is all about those moments and situations in life we all find funny.  The humour isn't aimed at anyone, instead it seeks to include everyone in a spirit of laughing, safely together at some of the strange things we all tend to do in life.  Michael McIntyre was the highest grossing comedian in 2012 and plays to huge audiences.  I make this point because this type of humour is often seen as the most liked and positive.  Preferring this style is also thought to have benefits for positive mental health and warding off sadness and depression.


In the workplace today this is a positive and upbeat style of humour that can connect teams and enable teamwork.

Dawn French - Self-Enhancing humour


Probably one of the best examples of how novelty and humour are so closely linked.  The unexpected twist on an everyday situation that makes us laugh.  


Self-Enhancing humour is all about optimism and being able to see the funny side of life, even in stressful situations.  People who prefer this style tend to be able to look at situations from the funny side and pick themselves up quickly after a setback.  They can laugh at some of the absurdities of life and situations we find ourselves in.


In the workplace this type of humour is often effective at breaking the ice or dealing with stressful situations.  The ability to turn tense situations into something safer and easier to discuss.

Sarah Millican - Self-Defeating or Self Depreciating humour.


Aiming the joke, or poking fun, at yourself can be an effective humour style for those with high enough self-worth and confidence.  Sarah has created a successful comedy style and is being well paid for that.  For others this style can be damaging, making jokes about themselves before others such as bullies do, but actually being hurt by the jokes.


In the workplace this can be a useful style for high confidence, high status people to be more relatable and human.  However we must be aware of people who always use this style and may only be pretending to laugh along, they might be hurting and if this is the case it can be a damaging form of humour.

Frankie Boyle - Aggressive humour


Pointing the humour at others and making them the focus of the joke.  This can be both an aggressive and manipulative form of humour.  This type of humour is most often about laughing at someone or a different social group.  Aggressive humour can be cutting satire and social commentary as seen by the popularity of comedians such as Frankie Boyle, but he is called a controversial comedian for a reason. It's rarely funny if you find yourself at the centre of the joke.


In the workplace this style of humour is most often damaging and causes distrust, lack of safety and competition between teams, especially if used by more senior leaders.  It can sometimes alleviate the pressure in the most difficult workplaces in the form of black humour.  This style of humour is sometimes linked with depression and depressive thoughts.  

Mike Doyle - demonstrating both the affiliative and self-enhancing humour styles to create a sense of liking, belonging and connection with the audience.

The final word must of course go to Mike Doyle who brought the comedy to life on How to be Happy, a true entertainer who has an immediate positive impact on the people around him...which might give you a clue to the 2 styles he tends to use most.

Humour styles, it's no laughing matter.  What's yours?


In an episode of How to be Happy, part 2 on ITV Wales Andrea Byrne asked comedian Mike Doyle and me about the value of humour in our lives and especially in group settings.  The trouble with humour is that it isn't funny once it's explained.  With that in mind, and in keeping with the style of the show, rather than just tell you about the research by Dr Rod Martin into humour styles, we'll use some popular jokes to help you find out more about your preferred style.  


The 4 video clips below are examples of the 4 main humour styles, many of us use one style of humour more than the others.  The same can be said for the comedians shown below.  That doesn't mean they only use one style, like most of us they vary from time to time but more often than not they use this preference.  


If you would like to know more about humour styles of the science of happiness please get in touch.  How we can all be a little happier at work and home remain my most popular workshops.


Take a moment now to watch the 4 short clips and see which style you tend to prefer.  There is a description of the style next to each video.

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