The following is an excerpt from Persuasion Equation: The Subtle Science of Getting Your Way.
The use of humor can denote an individual’s emotions, intelligence, sensitivities, communications skills and maturity. It’s an anodyne for improving relationships and, thus, the potential for persuasion. Plus, when you display a great sense of humor it shows many positive facets of your personality.
When you’re funny, you have:
Comedians are bright people. If you disregard the minority of stand-ups who use mindless obscenity in every sentence, you’ll find that most comics reveal the core of the human condition and how it relates to politics, sports, health, business and just about every other aspect of life.
Take The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, who builds a fake news broadcast by satirizing the real events of the day. His overwhelming success with that kind of humor didn’t happen by accident; Stewart is one of the smartest, most well-read and provocative comedians working today — which gives him an edge when influencing viewers to agree with his stance on issues ranging from war to equality. In fact, maybe the United States would be better off if he ran for national office instead of the politicians he pokes at on his show.
Humor generally has an underlying optimism. The subject might be crisis or foolishness, but there’s hope at the other end because enough of us still exist to recognize and appreciate the irony. Think about it: The majority of humor derives from pain, mistakes and unfortunate incidents. Comic expression is the attempt to alleviate that pain, embarrassment or misfortune.
Decades back, Jewish comedians such as Rodney Dangerfield, Joan Rivers and Milton Berle encouraged their audiences at summer resorts in the Catskill Mountains to laugh at the prejudice they encountered in mainstream society. Great African-American comics like Richard Pryor and Chris Rock helped audiences feel comfortable cackling at the ridiculousness of racism. Female humorists have taken on sexism.