More British humor from The Economist

From time to time, I try to give you glimpses into the most distinctive aspect of our corporate culture at The Economist, which is, of course, humor.

So yesterday I received an email. A colleague had sent it to “All Editorial”, requesting some help with what appears to be a story idea he or she is developing. Here it is:

Dear all,

I’ve noticed a tendency for companies to expect/demand that their employees enjoy their jobs, and give visible signs of so doing–being happy, wacky, fun and funny…

Has anybody else come across examples of this depressing and obnoxious trend? I’d love to hear from you if you have….

20 thoughts on “More British humor from The Economist

  1. Hi Andreas,
    This is funny….
    Yep!!! We have those expectations in our company through posters, memos, emails, etc almost all the time.
    But… we all decided not to start that obnoxious trend by spreading depression.
    We don’t even want to think about taking that step.
    We pretty much make ourselves miserable, tragic, serious, predictable and with no sense of humor so we take comfort in knowing we can be exciting and cheerful.
    So to answer your question…sorry, I don’t know anyone like that.

  2. I thought the recession had put a stop to this sort of thing and that Koosh balls and nerf dart guns were passe. But I look forward to reading the article when it comes out.

    You might ask your colleague to see if there is any connection between this “depressing and obnoxious” trend and that story of the air traffic controller who took his kid to work and had the kid do some vectoring. I bet everyone had fun that day!

  3. Had I gotten a dollar for every time I was instructed to smile more at work, I wouldn’t have to work another day in my life.

    I hear that employees at Disneyland get fired if they don’t smile. (Unless, of course, wearing a somber mien is commanded by their religion.)

  4. I’ve always loved The Economist’s brand of humor.

    Reading your link (and various links I found myself taking from there), I can’t help but wonder about your thoughts on the Onion. I know the Economist has explicitly endorsed its genius, but it seems to contradict your earlier post on irony. Does not the Onion produce irony on par with the British?

    • Hi, Luke.

      I love the Onion!

      In that post on irony, I never meant to imply that ironists do not exist in America (they are a minority, but a lucrative one, which our marketing department at The Economist noticed a couple of decades ago). In any case, a good exception or two proves the rule.

      But we can have an interesting discussion about whether the Onion practices a) irony or b) sarcasm or c) satire or d) wit or e) …….

  5. Dom you know the one about the two British gentlemen, lost in the Sahara? Their paths cross but they don’t speak to one another because they have not been properly introduced.
    It’s longer than that but I could be accused of homophobia if I kept on.

  6. You asked for it, so here goes; they walked side by side a while then one asked “British?” “Yes”, answered the other. A few hours later one asked “Eton?” “Of course” came the reply. “Cambridge?” “Absolutely”.
    A long silence follows and “Homosexual?” “Of course not!” “Oh what a pity”.

  7. Good satire, as I learned it, basically had to do three things: be humorous, give criticism, and provide some ideas for fixing whatever it criticized. The Onion, at its best, does do all three; other times it may be just be going for a laugh. But as to sarcasm, irony and wit, I think they’re tools in the humorists’ bag.

    Oh, and here’s another small example of having fun at The Economist: . I love that photo caption.

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