|Distant cousins of the Bronx Zoo Cobra|
@BronxZoosCobra: Rockefeller Plaza is - wait. OMG, Tina Fey just walked by me. Huge fan.
@BronxZoosCobra: Enjoying a cupcake at Magnolia Bakery. This is going straight to my hips. Oh wait, I don't have hips. Yesssss.
@BronxZoosCobra: Holding very still at the snake exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. This is going to be hilarious.
Almost overnight, the twitter feed attracted tens of thousands of followers. TV cameras flocked to the zoo. Instead of a scary snake story, people thought the Bronx Zoo Cobra was great fun. By the way, the cobra is still tweeting away and as of today has 235,006 followers. As they say, you can't buy that kind of publicity. Conversely, a poor sense of humor can make you, your client or your company look- humorless.
Case in Point: Massachussets' authorities have been after Michael Wylie for five long years. Wylie's crime: he ignored a series of jury duty notices. The State Jury Commission finally tracked him down but Wylie won't be going to jail.
According to the Eagle-Tribune newspaper in North Andover, MA, Deputy Jury Commissioner John Cavanaugh says it's unlikely the state will proceed with a criminal complaint against Mr. Wylie. I'd say it's pretty unlikely considering that he's been dead for five years.
Wylie didn't respond for jury duty in 2006 because he was in a hospice with terminal cancer. He died a few months later. Family members say they told authorities about the death. But those officials claim the family never sent a death certificate. For the past five years the Jury Commission has been sending nasty letters threatening legal action. So here we have the Deputy Jury Commissioner saying it's unlikely the state will press charges.
Certainly there's nothing funny about Mr. Wylie's death. But the Jury Commission's cold response makes it sound like the agency is run by a bunch of uncaring bureaucrats. Wouldn't those officials look better if they simply said, "Obviously we take jury duty seriously... maybe a little too seriously. We could have handled this better."
Humor is great but obviously it's not great all the time. Recently, New York State Congressman Anthony Weiner resigned in disgrace after tweeting pictures that were "below the belt". When confronted with the allegations Weiner told reporters he couldn't say with "certitude" that he wasn't the guy in the photos. Certitude? You have to admit that's pretty funny. But a congressman caught up in a sexting scandal isn't something you can laugh off- unless you're Leno or Letterman.
What really cooked Weiner's goose was lying about what happened. What he should have done was fess up and admit he'd messed up. Would Weiner have resigned anyway? Almost certainly. But maybe he wouldn't be the butt of so many tasteless jokes. And he could have spared his family some embarrassment.
So get out there and use humor when appropriate. Be pleasant. Be candid. Admit your mistakes. Most people will want to believe you're being straightforward. And for Pete's sake, if your last name is "Weiner"- keep your pants on!
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