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Office Pranks and Humor: A Look at The Fun Side of Work

Updated on June 27, 2014

Work Isn't Always a Serious Business - and your job doesn't have to be a drag!

In tough economic times, it's so easy to see work as a very serious business, particularly if you are looking for a job without success. Work can be funny, though - yes, even the dullest "joe job" can have a lighter side. And when tension builds up in the workplace, a good-natured joke or prank can help to lighten the mood with co-workers.

Many of us have a love-hate attitude to our jobs or careers. We need to work to pay our bills and having a job can help us feel that we have a purpose in life. Even if we secretly like what we do for a living, however, we still laugh at the bumper-stick one-liners like "A job is nice but it interferes with my life." At least, a quip like this can be a reminder to look for the fun side of work.

Humor helps us on those difficult days that we all have, doing our jobs. Even those of us who are lucky enough to love our careers still have bad days when we feel like we should have just stayed in bed. Having one of those days? Here's a little look at the fun side of work, to give you a little lift through it.

Photo: Punking Neal's Office: Stirling got the backfire by Jake Sutton [CC BY 2.0] on Flickr

"It's a thankless job but I've got a lot of Karma to burn off."

Pranks and Punks - What's a little joke between office friends?

Punking Neal's Office: Half way by Jake Sutton, on Flickr
Punking Neal's Office: Half way by Jake Sutton, on Flickr

Punking Neal's Office: Half way by Jake Sutton [CC BY 2.0] on Flickr

Much as you might be tempted to take a bit of an off-season holiday, or lobby the boss to send you off on a plum trip to a conference (totally work-related, of course), you might want to think twice. Look what happened to the office of this poor bloke when he was away from work for some time - balloons up to here!

On the bright side - and we are looking on the bright side here! - it could have been worse. Office pranks often involve kitchen products and industrial-strength adhesives and other potentially messy and unpleasant things that may earn reprisal from your employer, if permanent damage is done. Yikes! Fun is fun when a work pal gets pwned, punked, pranked... but we have to admit that some gags go a bit far.

Hold All My Calls by Furryscaly, on Flickr
Hold All My Calls by Furryscaly, on Flickr

Elastic Phone Gag

Classic Fun with Office Supplies

"Ellis was gone for a week again," says his prankster. "He ought to know better..." Methinks our unknown Ellis got off quite lightly, just having his office desk phone wrapped up in about a kajillion rubber bands.

Just think, it only took his coworker 20 minutes to do the deed (and another couple seconds for a different colleague to swap out the phone cord for a wonky one that produced a lot of static) ... Imagine what else these pranksters could have accomplished, as they had a full week in which they could have gone on to execute a whole series of mischievous gags!

Hold All My Calls by Furryscaly [CC BY 2.0] on Flickr

Keyboard and Cress by wetwebwork, on Flickr
Keyboard and Cress by wetwebwork, on Flickr

Green Keyboard Punk'd

Growing Bored with the Same-Old-Same-Old Work Pranks?

What do you think about, oh, for example, seeding some guy's keyboard with fast-growing cress seeds? Dampen slightly, go home for the weekend, come back Monday morning to witness his reaction when he sees a growth of small green plants between the keys...

Er, you might want to grab a retired keyboard look-alike from the IT trash guys and swap for your friend's own peripheral, or be ready to risk having your pay docked by price of one ruined keyboard.

Photo: Keyboard and Cress by wetwebwork [CC BY 2.0] on Flickr

"How to" Cress Keyboard video ยป here. In the video, it's a different pair of pranksters than in the photo - apparently the keyboard cress trick is not exactly rare in geek work circles, the Netherlands included! See the trick in action with your own eyes and watch with growing amusement as the green grass takes hold between the keys. A nice extra taunt, the sign you'll see in the video says "fijne vakantie" - in English, that's "Happy Vacation."

Workin' 9 to 5... - What a way to make a living!

No surprise that Dolly Parton's recording of the theme song from the 1980 movie, 9 to 5 was one of her biggest hits - both the song and the hysterically funny revenge-of-the-office-girls film plot inevitably struck a chord with a whole generation of cubicle workers. An oldie, but a golden one for anyone who needs a bit of a boost in the midst of a long work day at a deadend job. Watch, listen, and enjoy! But if you're at work right now, it might not be wise to sing along...

"Any simple problem can be made insoluble if enough meetings are held to discuss it."

Hard Work, Long Hours but...

There is always a funny side. Sometimes it's your customers, sometimes it's your boss.

One year, for just a few months, I worked in a the box office of a West End London theatre, (the theatre district a bit like Broadway in New York).

The show was a big hit and sold out most nights and always at weekends. Selling tickets in a box office doesn't sound like a hard job, but it could be. There were always long queues (lines) of people waiting to buy tickets and it could be so stressful, the manager only allowed anyone to stay on the sales windows for an hour. After that, you were relieved and did some of the clerical work instead.

We would get asked stupid questions like, "Is there a pillar in front of those seats?" This theatre had no pillars and anyway, box office staff always warn the buyer if the only available tickets have poor views. There was always a great temptation to say, "No sir, (or madam) did you want one?"

Occasionally you would hear somebody succumb to temptation.

The moment of sick humor I remember best occurred one Saturday evening. As usual the show was a sell-out and so we were selling standing-only tickets for one (British) pound each (about $3 at the time, I think). The impresario (producer and money man for the show) bounced into the box office. He seemed to believe we all loved him but, actually, we sincerely hated him. We were badly paid and worked long hours, and he was not only a very rich man but a mean one.

This particular evening the impresario said, "I've just been talking to two girls in the queue for standing tickets. They've seen the show ten times. I must do something for them."

The box office manager said, "We've just had two tickets returned, ten pounds each."

The impresario seemed to have developed deafness because everybody else heard this but he didn't appear to have heard because he said, "Yes, I must do something for them."

He paused and we all expected him to say he'd take the two returned tickets. "Yes," he said again, "I must do something for them... I know, give me two standing tickets." With that, he handed over two pounds.

Two pounds won't get you a small frappacino, today, but even back then it was more like a teenager's pocket money. To say we were all disgusted is an understatement. After he left, we all exploded with scorn at how mean he was.

"Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at the moment."

Robert Benchley

Admit it... - You're secretly nuts about the job

Or at least, you kinda like some of your workmates, some of the time, and one or two of the regular customers... and the office Christmas party has its moments... and a regular pay day (even if you're working for peanuts) is always welcome!

Go ahead, scour eBay for the perfect career-specific collectible figurine that says just how much fun you can find in your work. Like these, for example...

Poll: Should Work be Fun? - Or is it too serious to joke about?

During the current recession, should we joke about our jobs/careers or is this topic too serious for humor?

Should work be treated seriously or is there room for humor?

See results

Stress Relief

Humor is a Healing Thing

It is true, laughter is (as all the back issues of Reader's Digest you've ever read in the lunchroom say) the best medicine. At least, if what ails you is workplace-related stress due to hating your job and being surrounded all day by blithering idiots and egoo-maniacs, for far little pay than you know your unique talents actually deserve...

Whoa! Deep breath there, buddy. We're talking about the fun side of work here - want to grab a moment of stress relief right now, before we move on?

Do you see the Fun Side of Work? - ... at least, some days?

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    • flycatcherrr profile image
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      flycatcherrr 3 years ago

      @SpinMan2014: Your sense of humor is a real inspiration, my friend - I'll bet your coworkers found you good to have around, too.

    • flycatcherrr profile image
      Author

      flycatcherrr 3 years ago

      @SpinMan2014: What a wonderful idea! Much better than a team-building paintball event for office morale!

    • profile image

      SpinMan2014 3 years ago

      For co-workers, I found a small Snoopy doll, named him Barko, and made him a member of the team, just internally. "Barko also says 'Hi'". "Barko sees that you're quiet today, and wondered if something was wrong. It's none of my business, but he insists." He became a running joke, and it helped morale.

    • profile image

      SpinMan2014 3 years ago

      I retired due to Parkinson's disease (but not shook up) from a telephone tech support job. This is often viewed as high stress and unpleasant (with good reason). I found that the keys to good productive calls were empathy, sincere effort, and humor at my expense or puns. You must first show that you understand, want to help, and take them seriously. Make them a partner. This deflates much of the pressure. Then, I'd gauge their openness to humor with something like; "computers can make you crazy, I mean, look at me. That's how I got this way." If I was quiet and they asked if I was still there, my response usually was, "I'm not all there, but I am here". If done with care, ready to stop and apologize, it makes a huge difference. In seven years on incoming support calls, 20-40 a day, I never had a caller request to talk to my supervisor to complain. It occurred to me that the essence of this style was that I loved them, as a Christian loves. Their problem became my problem. They can tell. The Bible, in Psalms, say s that laughter is like medicine. It works.

    • NibsyNell profile image

      NibsyNell 4 years ago

      Humour is the only way to get through it although some days it's hard to see the funny side!

    • RuthieDenise profile image

      RuthieDenise 4 years ago

      Love the lens. Sometimes I am not sure whether to laugh or cry at work. Maybe both.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 4 years ago

      Oh gosh, was just thinking about work tonight. And, thinking about the expression "in the nick of time." I left work about 1 minute early and was concerned that they might think I was a slacker ... I needed to get on the road ahead of some traffic so that I could get home to do yard work before it got dark. Don't have an amusing anecdote about work to share, but I do know, you should not delete THIS lens.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 6 years ago

      Yes, humor can make work tolerable. But I've had some bosses with no sense of humor.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      My favorite quote is the Robert Benchley one!

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 7 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      [in reply to grannysage] I think many stressful jobs have their black humour because laughing can be the only way not to cry or scream.

    • profile image

      grannysage 7 years ago

      I was browsing your list of lenses and the title drew me in. I totally agree that we need to have humor at work. When I worked as a social worker at a nursing home, we had what we called dark humor. It is the kind that needs to be behind closed doors but is necessary to release stress. I wish I could remember them now...they would make a good lens. I had an "opportunity" to work overtime this weekend. Really, the job isn't that much fun. I decided to work on lenses instead.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 8 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Love it! We definitely need to laugh about work.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 8 years ago from United States

      This is hilarious! I needed a good laugh as I "work" on my lenses. The video was great and oh, so very true! Also, I have found the wealthiest people are often times the stingiest.

    • cjsysreform profile image

      cjsysreform 8 years ago

      oh my god, I laughed my face off at that store sign. then I showed it to my boyfriend and he laughed HIS face off. now we have no faces

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 8 years ago

      Love your stories! If only we could all enjoy our jobs like this.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 8 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      Very entertaining! We musn't take ourselves too seriously!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I worked for the Land Charges Dept (UK Civil Service) for a number of years and we were a very committed, professional team ... but we would laugh a lot, EVERY day. It really helped.Great lens, Carol - thank you!

    • Terry Boroff profile image

      Terry Boroff (flipflopnana) 8 years ago from FL

      Thanks for the chuckles! This was the perfect way to start my day today!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Oh I so love this Carol! Fun lens!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 8 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Wonderful lens! I think humor is important in the workplace!! Sometimes it the only thing that keeps you sane :) 5*