Brace yourself. Joke time. Did you hear the bloke who invented predictive texts has died? They’re holding his funfair next monkey.

Okay, I admit it’s not the best gag in the world. But maybe, just maybe, a small chemical reaction took place in your brain as you read the words and led to something unexpected, even pleasurable . . . a wry smile.

My children laugh all the time, usually at my expense. But I honestly cannot remember the last time I had a good old belly laugh. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

And despite being the best medicine, in one of the more bizarre twists of the pandemic, laughter has been officially banned. No joke! Apparently, Aberdeenshire Council has forbidden its employees from joking around with the public over fears it could exacerbate the transition of Covid.

A ban on banter! Is it any wonder we’ve fallen off the humour cliff? These days life feels terribly serious, because, well, it is. But how much is the loss of laughter down to recent events or because I’m just getting older? For me, as life’s responsibilities have grown over the years, daft jokes and giggles seem silly and trivial.

Read more: Election 2021: I’d rather not have Indyref2, but it has to happen

However, according to Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas’s recently published book, Humour, Seriously, wit is an essential tool, in fact superpower, for getting us through tough times – an innate weapon we all have that can be deployed by just a shift in attitude and behaviour.

Sure, such advice may sound glib, but according to their research the power of humour really can work wonders – and nowhere is this more evident than in the world of business.

Of course, for anyone with even a modest sense of self awareness, the risk of David Brent-style humour failure is ever present, and just not worth it. However, Aaker and Bagdonas are not suggesting we have to transform ourselves into wannabe stand-ups.

Instead, just flex a few comedy muscles and adopt a sense of light-heartedness (not what you say, but how you say it). This helps break down barriers and create a sense of authenticity – in other words, appear more human.

Their research also found the belief that “funny” simply has no place in workplaces was debunked when bosses and colleagues who used self-deprecating humour scored higher in levels of trustworthiness and leadership.

Read more: Independence: Fear or fairy tales, surely we deserve better?

Humour is also a brilliant way of getting a serious message across. Who can forget the Going Over The Top scene in Blackadder Goes Forth – one of the most poignant few minutes of television ever created. When Blackadder and the boys charged into no-man’s land humour served to make the reality of death all the more stark. Levity brought gravity and a powerful message – just as Blackadder couldn’t outwit the bullets, neither could the millions of men in the First World War.

So as office life gradually resumes after a year of home working, maybe it’s time to play it for laughs a little. Who knows, you might even feel young again.


Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.