"David Ogilvy once said, “The best ideas come as jokes. Try to make your thinking as funny as possible.” Every ruler needs a court jester. Humour is anything but silly: it is an evolved and highly sophisticated evolutionary mechanism which allows brains momentarily to sidestep conventional hierarchies or assumptions in a way which would be impossible in a wholly serious (or automated) world. In today’s over-earnest business culture, where it often pays to present oneself as being as Teutonically rational as possible, it is easy to disregard these momentary logical lapses. But, as Peter McGraw explains, we should often cherish them instead."
—Rory Sutherland, vice chairman, Ogilvy
"When I read the quote about me in this book, “Neal lacks the warmth that helps an audience connect to a stand-up comedian,” you can imagine my excitement about endorsing it. I do endorse it. Not warmly. You know how I am."
—Neal Brennan, comedian and co-creator of Chappelle’s Show
"Shtick to Business takes insights from the world’s funniest people to show you all you need to know about business. Great comedians are constantly selling themselves, improving their product based on customer feedback, and differentiating themselves from the competition. Who cares if they sleep until noon and drink too much? Let successful comedians show you their secrets to success."
—Jimmy Carr, comedian and man who owes the author money
"I’ve built a career on creating innovation designed to disrupt markets. Peter McGraw asserts that the best case studies are not entrepreneurs like me, but T-shirt-wearing comedians working in dingy basements. I couldn’t agree with him more. Shtick to Business is not only a fascinating deep dive into the psychology of the world’s most creative minds, but also an exhaustive guide to applying those lessons to your business. A must-read for those looking to drive growth, progress, and sustainable success."
—Josh Linkner, 5x tech entrepreneur, New York Times bestselling author
"Shtick to Business will help you think differently, build critical professional skills, and make you laugh all at the same time. Get ready to learn from professional comedians, the all-out rebels who—in many ways—have the toughest job in the world."
—Francesca Gino, author of Rebel Talent and Harvard Business School professor
"Those who can, make people laugh. Those who can’t, become humor researchers. Yes, that’s a thing, and Peter McGraw is one of the best on the planet. Defying all expectations, his book is illuminating, entertaining, and maybe even useful."
—Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take, and host of the TED podcast WorkLife
A professor offers a novel approach that encourages emulating comedians as a way to make career and business improvements.
McGraw, a marketing/psychology professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, knows a thing or two about comedy. He founded the Humor Research Lab and co-authored The Humor Code (2014). In this unusually engaging read, he turns his attention to the behind-the-scenes world of stand-up, improv, and sketch comedy. That would be intriguing enough, but McGraw takes it further, showing how comedians think and act and relating it to business in an effort to “revolutionize your work life—and beyond.” From the outset, the author makes it clear his goal is not to teach readers to be funny but rather to “think funny.” The book’s chapters address what comedians do that could be applied to a business setting. For example, “Step Out of the Stream” demonstrates how comics often take risks and break rules. McGraw illustrates his thesis beautifully with anecdotes about comedians and excerpts from their acts, followed by several examples of businesses that succeeded by taking risks and breaking rules. “Cooperate to Innovate” serves to explode the myth of the solo comedian; here, the author relates the story of Merrill Markoe. She crafted jokes and bits for David Letterman, whose television show won Emmys for outstanding writing. “Pretty good on their own, they became fantastic when they teamed up,” writes McGraw. The author delves deeply into cooperation as part of sketch and improv comedy, citing additional hands-on examples. One of the more intriguing concepts he introduces is “complementation…the magic made when opposites come together, creating a sum that is greater than its parts.” McGraw again illustrates this idea with brief case studies. In addition to excellent examples from both comedy and business, the volume features two unique sidebars: “Shtick From Shane,” interspersed humorous short takes from stand-up comedian Shane Mauss, and “Act Out,” insightful observations from the author that perfectly highlight the comedy-business connection. Throughout the book, McGraw employs an animated yet authoritative writing style enhanced by a rich sense of humor.
Amusing tales and tidbits surprisingly pertinent to business professionals.