Does corporate Cincinnati laugh?

This is the ultimate trick question, of course, since we all know the city's business structure has no sense of humor whatsoever. But suppose it did? What would send our financial community into convulsive fits of guffaws, rolling in the aisles, laughing all the way to the bank?
Actually, Rajiv Satyal is here to tell you, the business community does laugh. Huge hearty belly laughs, bold snickering inside the board room, hilarious snorting all the...well, you get the punch line.

A marketing account director at Procter & Gamble, Satyal treads the tightwire of working for the extremely conservative, staid company by day, while engaging in a sideline that"”while not quite cutting-edge"”definitely pushes the envelope.

His favorite Proctoid joke?

"You have these people in corporate America who are always bragging about who they know," deadpans the comic. "One word of advice for the young people"”don't name drop. At least, that's what A.G. Lafley told me on the back nine."

Ba-da-boom!

So what tickles the Tri-state business community's collective funny-bone? According to Satyal"”who performs at numerous business functions as a master of ceremonies"”clean humor is a must. And relevant humor, as in workplace jokes.

"I go for the collective misery sort of thing, without""”he quickly adds"”"being too negative."

Satyal, whose web site is www.funnyindian.com, stresses the value of a good joke as an ice-breaker, especially at a meeting where many employees may be interacting for the first time. The critical thing is to not pull people out of their comfort zone.

"I do observational humor. I talk about working in an office, computer systems that are always messed up," notes Satyal. "It's niche humor for those who work in a cube all day long."

More of Satyal's rantings: "In corporate America, you can't use certain phrases"”they simply don't exist. We don't have 'weaknesses,' we have 'opportunity areas.' And we don't have 'problems.' Up until last year, these were 'issues.'  These recently got converted to 'challenges.'

"Also, we don't have 'layoffs'"”we have 'involuntary separations.' Does anyone else think this sounds like a medical procedure to remove conjoined twins? What's interesting about that one is some companies actually classify you as a 'regrettable loss' or a 'non-regrettable loss.' I asked someone in HR how I would know if I were a 'non-regrettable loss.' He said that if they threw my going-away party after I leave"”that's how you know."

Back to the issue of Cincinnati's sense of humor, or lack of it. It's not like Cincinnati has never heard of comedy, so don't get me wrong. On the net, there's the city's irreverent derfmagazine.com, an e-zine with tongue held firmly in cheek and a laundry list of awful puns at hand ("Cincinnati Zo'™s Twin Polar Bears Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder!" screamed one recent headline).

Cincinnati's Drew Hastings is a radio regular on the nationally syndicated Bob & Tom Show. And Wilmington's Stephanie Hodge has appeared on numerous NBC sitcoms.

The city remembers Woody Harrelson, the hapless barkeep at Cheers. And, of course, we boast Doris Day (she of the endless Pajama flicks), There's Vicki Lewis (of the TV series Newsradio), and Julie Haggerty (Airplane!). Yeah, we've got a funny legacy. Isn't this the home of WKRP in Cincinnati? And didn't Forest Park's Angie Montgomery recently find herself a semi-finalist on Nickelodeon's Funniest Mom in America competition"”perhaps the newest and, one day, greatest of humorists to claim they came from the Queen City.
Yeah, some clowns will continue to tell you that Cincinnati is an absolutely humorless town. Pay them no mind.

Instead, listen to people like Satyal, who continues to risk his day-job by extolling that "P&G is a very flexible company. It allows you to choose which 80 hours a week you want to work."

And that's very likely no joke.