Here’s to the Clowns at Work
Posted on July 28, 2014 by TNS Consulting Team (via Scott Spayd)
Somebody has to make us laugh!
You know the guy or gal who makes you smile, and laugh out loud. Sometimes just looking at them makes you laugh because you know they could blurt out something funny at any moment. There’s one in every crowd. Remember the kid in grade school who was always in trouble for making funny comments, or funny faces?
I may have written about this incident before, but one of my favorite memories of a class clown was of Scott “Clown” (I can’t recall his last name). He sat a few desks up from us in the back row. We were arranged by height, and I was one of the tallest, so I sat in the back with my smart, handsome classmate, Steve Swatek (His last name I remember.) in the last desk of the next row from me. Then there was Steve Schmidt, another funny kid who sat directly in front of me.
Our teacher was not very fond of humorous pranks in the classroom and in general, she was highly intolerant of anyone stealing her thunder in the classroom. This is 4th grade, 1965, St. Luke’s Catholic School, Carol Stream, Illinois. Our teacher was a nun, Sister Jean Baptist – and that name I’ll never forget either. The Franciscan nuns still wore their habits then, and they seemed to float down the aisles with their black habits flowing like Darth Vader.
One day, during singing class, a terrible, but funny thing happened. In order to sing properly, Sister had us hold our music books just the right way so that our throats could open more in order to be able to sing out. The book was a hard cover, and the bottom corner of the book had to rest on the desk and held at a 45° angle. It was also just big enough to hide behind. Sister walked around and inspected each of us to make sure we held the books properly.
During one of our songs, Steve Schmidt turned around to Steve Swatek and motioned for us to look at Scott. As usual, Scott wasn’t singing but his left hand was! He drew on big, red lips on the index and thumb along with a couple of eyes and “hand-mouthed” the words to the song. We all burst out laughing! Who could resist that in the 4th grade?
With that, Sister nabbed the culprit by his ear and led him out of the classroom into the hallway and we could hear him get a crack on the hinder. Back then this was allowed.
I don’t advise Scott’s behavior at meetings if you happen to be bored, though, I’ve thought about it sometimes.
The reason I tell this story is because Scott was a great relief to us as children living in a very strict and disciplined environment back then. Heck, children have to be in school at least 6 hours a day, 5 days a week and yes, they are there to learn and be disciplined, but they also need to laugh once in a while. If too much, then educators would have absolute chaos. And once they lose control of their classrooms, it’s hard to get it back.
The clown at work – any kind of work – not just in an office, is the one you look to for relief too. That’s a good thing when we can be all too serious with the task on hand or when tensions are mounting during a crisis. Of course, I don’t mean to say that everything is funny or should be made fun of. Certainly people should not be made fun of unless the humor is sort of flattering. Never make fun of someone’s person or demean him or her in any way. That’s not funny. In fact, it’s not only upsetting but you could be called on the carpet for it. There’s still such a thing called “defamation of character.” Also, there are some folks who are business-like and adhere to the adage, “Familiarity Breeds Contempt.” If you read my blogs often enough, this subject comes up from time to time.
Some clowns are the happy-sad types. They can laugh up a storm one day, and cry the next. Some clowns mask their true feelings with humor. For example, I read that the great comedian, Rodney Dangerfield, was very depressed in his personal life. When clowns appear to be angry, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are really angry. It just means they are having an off day. You’re used to seeing them joking around and laughing all the time, so when they are just being serious, (normal) they are simply that; just normal. Tell them a good joke and they will snap out of it!
Some clowns cannot take what they dish out. Did you ever notice that? So, if you are a clown, you have to be prepared to get what you give.
When clowning around becomes a nuisance at work, and interferes with production, then it may be time for the manager to say something. As a first attempt to quell the situation, I would address the issue to the group as opposed to individuals. Example: “I know we all like a funny, practical joke once in a while, but the incident last week went a bit overboard and someone’s feelings were hurt. Plus we lost an hour of production. So, let’s be more professional and get back why we are really here… to make gaskets!”
Do you have a “class clown” at work? Let me know.