You Know, It’s Funny… Unless it Isn’t

It’s funny… I’m not sure this column has anything to do with leadership, but I’ll try my best to spin it in that direction.  The fact is, I’ve just about had it with the “it’s funny” phrase.  I swear, everyone I come into contact with starts at least one observation or opinion with these words (heck, I do it myself at least once a day).  

Am I alone in noticing this?  Are you hearing this just about every day, as well?  I always want to interject with a snarky “I’ll be the judge of that” but I never quite work it in fast enough.  Invariably, whatever we say after we say “it’s funny” isn’t the slightest bit funny.  It may be ironic, it may be interesting (to the speaker, at least), and it may be unusual, but it’s never funny.  I almost want to say – “actually, that wasn’t funny at all – I didn’t even break a smile.”

Seriously, we’ve reached epic proportions here – I’m willing to bet that every single person you interact with tomorrow is going to break out the “it’s funny” conversation starter.  How did this happen?  When did this catch fire and sweep the nation?  Are they saying “it’s funny” in other cultures around the globe?  And are their little gems actually funny, ’cause I think we’ve just added about 3-4 words to every sentence for no apparent reason in this country.   It’s funny, I don’t remember this being all the rage even two years ago.

Catchphrases are not new – and they have a way of sweeping across a company like wildfire.  A few years ago, a leader I knew started saying “last time I checked” before his statements.  Pretty soon, everyone was saying: “last time I checked”.   Gotta wonder about productivity when everyone is busy checking things one last time… 

 Here’s another one that you might have noticed if you have teenagers.  Talk to any teenager and see if they don’t start at least one comment with the words: “I mean…”.  In teenager land, “I mean…” has become about as ubiquitous as “like”.   I mean, c’mon, that’s like… well, it’s funny, you know?

So maybe this is the leadership lesson – try to be a good role model when it comes to language and communications.  Try to speak in complete sentences, and leave the slang and the promise of great humor out of every other comment.  See if that raises the collective IQ of the group, and do your part to make your English teacher proud of you.

You know, it’s funny – this column just kind of came to me on the plane today as we were hurtling toward the earth flying through a thunderstorm over Cincinnati.  I only wish I had something remotely funny to add, so my words could live up to the opening promise!