They started a joke…

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With apologies to the Bee Gees, but this joke didn’t start ‘the whole world crying’. It was more like a frustrated sigh of bemusement.

It happened a week ago, on the stalwart CBC Radio interview show, ‘As It Happens’*. I was in my car and caught the middle of an item which purported to feature a representative of Canada’s mint. The gentleman was extolling the virtues of a new three-dollar coin – the threenie – that was going to replace the five dollar bill.

At first, I was incensed. How could they do this? What a typically bureaucratic, cost-saving move? (I admit I had forgotten it was April 1.)

I meant to blog about the situation that night but got busy. Later, when I did a search, I discovered it the whole thing was a lame joke.

Now first off, let me applaud CBC’s efforts at jocularity.

But second, I’d like to charge them with the heinous crime of attempted humour (without a license).

The premise of the joke was good. But oh, the delivery… It was too earnest and low-key; in other words it had the standard CBC tonality we Canadians are supposed to appreciate after we turn 40. That’s a right of passage, eh?

There was no signal of silly (i.e. a nearly hysterical bureaucrat), no frustration on the part of the interviewer, no absurd pronouncements, no delicious irony. In order to make people laugh, we need to sense a twinkle, a hint of mischief, a face full of pie. Otherwise, we miss the nuance.

Perhaps CBC needs to tune into itself and adjust its blandwidth. And maybe then, the next time it starts a joke, the world might catch on and start laughing (or at least crack a smile).

And by the way, can someone please tell them they don’t need the cover of April Fool’s Day to be witty.

About Martin Waxman


Martin Waxman conducts social media and online crisis training workshops, is a digital and communications strategist and speaks at events across North America. He's the co-founder of three PR agencies, president of a consultancy and has worked in the industry for over 25 years. Martin is a Lynda.com and LinkedIn Learning Author, teaches digital strategy and social media, and is past-chair of PRSA Counselors Academy.

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