Category Archives: Other

Humor and Organic Humor

Some people are funny.  They just are. What they do makes us laugh. This is organic funny. It’s natural. Robin Williams is organically funny. On Inside the Actors Studio, with nothing more than a girls scarf, he had me falling out of my chair in stitches.

There is also processed funny. It’s still funny but you know they work really hard at it. They do jokes, skits, song parodies, etc. Jerry Seinfeld is like this.  He’s a stand up comic that prepares material and delivers it.  But you don’t expect him to be funny walking down the street. That’s fine, but we don’t look at it the same way. 

What’s not apparent to you or I and what I didn’t notice until recently is that many of the people that seem organically funny are actually just very skilled in what they do.  They appear to be organically funny.  The interesting thing (to me at least) is that when we are told that they aren’t organic, we feel bad.  The funny goes away. Perhaps because we feel duped, that the joke was on us.  Two examples of that happened recently that really made me wonder if what we see is real or just a very well done magic act.

The first was on Jon Stewart’s show. He showed a series of Robin Williams interviews in which Robin was being his outrageous self except he was using the same lines over and over again and just inserting the host’s name. What appear spontaneous on Leno, appeared spontaneous with Katie Couric and with Regis and Kelly. This quickly gave the appearance that he isn’t spontaneous and witty, just practiced and skilled at looking so.  He’s acting like a comic genius, he isn’t actually a comic genius.  Pulling back the curtain like that on something you have believed in for years, well quite frankly, stinks. I’ll never look at him the same way again. Now I know why they don’t show you how they do the magic trick.  Because not knowing what’s really going on is the key to the entertainment.

The second example was brought up today as a speaker was describing how to use humor in a speech. This was planned humor, not improv.  He mentioned that the best part of the Carol Burnett show was when Harvey Korman and Tim Conway were so funny they would bust each other up laughing. Which of course the audience, me included, loved. But, he went on to say that was all planned! 

I can’t remember the last time I felt the air leave the room that fast. It was like he told everyone that Santa Claus wasn’t real, the Easter Bunny is fake and the money from the tooth fairy came from mom and dad. We were crushed. 

He went on to tell us how back stage they would collude to make sure that they were on the same page about what part they were going to crack up.

“Tonight, you crack up in the third skit on the fourth joke, okay Tim?” 

“Okay, Harv. Got it.”

I don’t think anyone could breath for three minutes.  That’s just not right.  There is too a Santa Claus! You shut your mouth!

If there was ever a good reason for denial, this was it. Don’t ruin my beliefs and don’t rain on my parade. I want my money back.

This got me thinking about all that we see that appears real but is really an act. We all know that the pundits and politicians aren’t really saying what they think. They are playing to their audience.  We certainly know that advertising isn’t telling us the truth and we have no problem accepting that without ill will.

But when people pull the curtain back and expose us to the errors of our real beliefs, things that we hold to be true and above reproach, that’s a killer. That really takes the wind out of us. The mere idea that Robin Williams is just a stage act and that he goes home and practices this stuff deflates us. We know not to trust the other people, the “sales people”. We are in it with them. We’re inside. We know the deal. But when we feel duped; when we feel betrayed; we feel despair and emptiness. 

Is Robin Williams just a public face on an otherwise completely different guy?  Is that even possible? 

Does Tim Conway even think Harvey Korman is funny?  Do they just sit backstage playing cards, then come out, fake it, and then go home? Tell me it ain’t so, Joe.  Tell me it ain’t so.

You know what they say, anything is possible. 

I thought I was getting organic and I find out it’s all processed.

I am so depressed.

On the other hand this does explain why right before the tooth fairy came my mom would say she needed to get some change.


Do we really have to be judgmental? To say that we must is to say we can’t be objective, we can’t step back and consider, ponder and wonder without creating a judgement as to good or bad, right or wrong, acceptable or not.

Some old dead philosopher once said, “It is the educated mind that can hold a thought without accepting or rejecting it.” Is that the opposite of judgmental?


Taking a job because it will allow you to retire can result in selling your time simply for money. This goes back to the quote that “the ladder you climb may be on the wrong wall”. I would suggest that it’s the choice and ascension of the ladder that leads to happiness, not only the result of standing on the wall.


I would suggest that there is a step between research and action, that I call “thinking” By this I mean, you have to understand what you are reading and being told, not just accept it. Then come up with a plan that will work for you. Health magazines, as with most other media, are full of ads and other misleading information cloaked in the shape of articles. Research is being done everyday by food producers that results in studies that mislead us to thinking that their products are better than they actually are. The beef council pays for beef research that tells us beef is fine, the chicken council pays for studies that say the opposite. The genetic farm companies say that’s fine, the organic farmers say it’s not. You see my point. You can’t believe what you read or are told buy anyone without that step between hearing it and taking action that I call thinking.

Spin exists in finance

Inaccuracy is in the eye of the beholder. We see this in politics every night on TV. Watch the same story on CNN and on Fox and you will see slight differences that some would call inaccuracies.

One of the main reasons for posting this is to make very clear that spin exists in finance. We used to use different charts in the financial reports depending on which one looked the best. Not different numbers, but the selection of income over cash flow was based on which one looked better. Sure all the numbers were there but the chart of steadily increases looks better than scattered volatility. That’s spin. I did it. Everyone does it. As investors, managers and business owners, we need to be aware of it and consider it when making decisions.