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Expansive Intimacy EP11: Humor That Works for Creating Intimacy w/Drew Tarvin

“As an engineer, I saw emotions as data which is the wrong thing to say when someone is crying,” jokes Drew Tarvin, CEO of Humor That Works, author of “The Skill of Humor Playbook” and master of puns.

Initially better with computers than people, Drew learned to be funny–and more emotionally intelligent–by studying improv. Now, he introduces the practice of humor into such major–and seemingly serious–workplaces such as NASA and the FBI. He discusses the benefits of humor in the workplace to boost morale, engagement and problem-solving. On a personal level, it has social as well as health benefits and builds traits like resiliency. More people would engage in humor at work if they thought their bosses would approve.

Humor is a skill that can be learned, and there is more than one way to be funny. Drew walks us through several humor archetypes, including the Entertainer, Skeptic and Enthusiast– sometimes you’re all at once. He shares his own experiences with having relied on comedy to defuse workplace tension and bring up elephants in the room.

In terms of intimacy, humor reveals to others your humanity and vulnerability, that you’re a person first and an employee second, and it invites reciprocity. Join Drew and Jim on this episode of Expansive Intimacy and be sure to stay for the knock-knock jokes.


“[Improv] was my initial foray into emotional intelligence. It was less because I thought it would make me a good person and more that it would get made me a good improviser.” (6:12-6:21 | Drew)
“Humor happens to be really effective in terms of communicating an idea, because once people are laughing, they're listening.” (11:44-11:49 | Drew)
“Humor is a skill, which means that it can be learned. And so if it's a skill that can be learned, then the question isn't, are you funny? The question is, what kind of funny are you?” (12:42-12:52 | Drew)
“A colleague and I were starting to butt heads and my manager walked in…He just wanted to give us a little bit of perspective. And the humor provided a pattern interrupt.” (29:40-30:15 | Drew)
“The humor that we use in the workplace doesn't have to be your audition to get on Saturday Night Live…The bar is so're trying…to create that level of connection.” (35:47-36:17 | Drew)

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The views expressed are that of the individual and do not represent the opinions of any companies past, present or future.


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