The Joke That Lands

Belly laughs. You know the kind. The moment something hits you unexpectedly, and it lands so perfectly, the response is involuntary. You laugh until tears roll down your face, and when you try to stop, you laugh harder.

The best comedy isn’t forced. It’s not a made up story, either. Comedy that lands is usually a casual observation, so well timed and so genuine that the listener sees a piece of themselves they thought no one else saw. Suddenly the world feels more forgiving, less isolating, and maybe – just maybe – a little bit funnier than you thought it was. Your face breaks into a smile, and you laugh.

A good joke has structure and mechanics, of course. But it doesn’t always matter how well a joke is constructed, because we have different ideas about what’s funny, simply by virtue of the fact that we have different life experiences. The audience is as important as the joke. If the audience doesn’t see themselves in the joke, it’s not funny.

Leadership isn’t so different. It has a set of mechanics that make life easier, and you would do well to learn them. But it helps tremendously if you and the people around you want to go to the same place.

If you can’t agree on the destination – the vision for what you want to accomplish and the types of people you want to become – you’re going to have about as much success in your leadership as a comedian will have telling jokes about 8-tracks to a room full of teenagers.

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