Is Laughter The Key?

By Ian Murphy


So I’ve held a widespread hypothesis that the key to learning is engagement (duh, you don’t say Einstein!).

But how?

Well for me, growing up, the forming personality I was to develop leant heavily on the British light entertainment and comedy industries, most notably Monty Python, The Morecambe and Wise Show, Tommy Cooper and Billy Connolly (I could go on!) to name but a few.

So it got me thinking (and I can still remember most of the sketches, routines and most of The Life of Brian too), is humour the key to engagement and information retention?

Now I know I am not splitting atoms here, nor am I the first to ponder this, but in the cyber security awareness space, there’s too much dullness and not enough behavioural change (no matter what someone else’s marketing literature may say).  So I put my thinking cap on and decided to see if the use off well timed humorous content could indeed make this very dry topic a little bit less dull.

Here’s some thoughts on what are the contributing factors that enable this content and most importantly help users engage more readily?

Well you lucky people, I am about to give you my twopenneth worth right now and there may be some change too.

Now first off, you need a front man or woman who doesn’t mind having their dignity stripped of them to get the message across (ahem!).  I think most acts or double acts had such a person who doesn’t mind being the clown.  This allows the viewer the juxtaposition of viewing their actions through somebody else’s behaviour, therefore whilst it points out the obvious it gives those who recognise this behaviour in themselves a way out when it comes to being entertained and then thinking, “gosh, I mustn’t do that again!”.

Secondly, you need funny content.  I know this is obvious but come on, most of us think we are comedians and when the spotlight is shone is our direction we clam up and our throats go drier than a hot day in Death Valley.  Content not only needs to be funny, it needs to get the point across and it cannot offend either.  Which brings me to my third point …….

Thirdly offence.  This is an interesting topic as there are so many people nowadays who are willing to be offended on most peoples behalf.  The only thing I can offer here set out with the intent not to cause offence, never let the focus of the topic be someone else, always make yourself the butt of the joke and you mostly will be golden.  However a word of warning, there is always someone  out there who won’t agree with you, that’s ok. for them and for you.  And if you are one of those reading this and have taken offence, firstly my apologies and secondly congratulations you’ve found another website you never need to visit again.

“So that’s all well and good Ian”, I hear you mumble, but how do we put it all together and how do we measure the impact and the changes it drives?  What a bloody great question and is something I will deal with in future blogs, as soon as I have worked out the answer.

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