Skip to main content

How do you know if your humor is appropriate for your audience? Here is “a test” through which I run all of my laugh lines and stories. If the answer to all three questions is “Yes”, then I have a stronger chance that people will laugh and not be offended!

Will two generations understand it?

Will two cultures get it?

Would I say this in front of my grandma?

Now, some of you might have some pretty cool Grannies (I know I do) who won’t fault you for saying something interesting but inappropriate. If you do, you need to pick someone you hold to the highest standards!

For example, here is a two-minute video of how I used the three-question humor test to make sure I was going to make the audience laugh. I knew two generations would get it, two cultures would understand it, and I would say it in front of my grandma.

If you don’t know if two generations or cultures would get it, you need to ask people in that demographic. Share it with them. See if they understand it or if they might be offended by it. Always test it out!

Enjoy creating your laugh lines! Remember that humor is important because it helps people remember what you are saying, builds likability, and gets you rehired! As always…

Dream BIG,


Ryan Avery

Author Ryan Avery

Hi, my name is Ryan Avery! Every Sunday I share the "notes" I use to build my keynotes. They are personal stories and tangible strategies we can use to improve the way we communicate at work, at home and with ourselves.

More posts by Ryan Avery

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Sounds like a neat test. Humour can be a tricky beast alright. Years ago I did a standup comedy gig, and what’s acceptable there (in a dim, smoky bar) is so different from what’s OK with a business audience in a brightly lit room!

    I’d be interested in your views on the joke used by the speaker in this TEDx talk. It’s not super offensive, but I don’t think it would pass your “2 cultures” test, which is a big problem when it’s had over a million views online. And as the joke was at the expense of the audience, it seemed pretty risky!

    To me, it’s fascinating that Ken Robinson started his famous TED talk in a very similar way, yet the effect so very different!

  • Ryan Avery says:

    Hey Craig, thanks for sharing this TED talk! I rely enjoyed it and learned a lot about how important your hands are. Plus, I did not not about the Roman handshake which is really interesting! I didn’t catch the joke he used though, unless it was the one about Hitler? Thank you again for sharing!

  • You’re very welcome!

    In the post, if you click the link that says 26″ (British for “26 seconds”), it plays the video from the point when he makes the joke.

    He says it with a smile, but I didn’t hear anyone laugh (and it might be very Australian humour), so it’s easy to miss!

Leave a Reply