A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

9 Funny Jokes to Defuse Awkward Situations at Work

The workplace is a hive of intrigue. But sometimes the right gag will stop a problem in its tracks.

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Group of coworkers laughing during a meeting

A co-worker stinks

Are those moldy socks? Has someone left their sandwich on their desk before going off on vacation? Is there a boys’ gym class working out in the next room? No, it’s Ralph in the adjoining cubicle! If your co-worker is stinking up the joint then hold your nose and let him or her know with this allegorical tale:

Mitchy had a problem with body odor, so he went to see his doctor.
“Do you wash?” the doctor asked him.
“Of course,” Mitchy replied. “Every single morning I begin at my head and wash down as far as possible. Then, I begin at my feet and wash up as far as possible.”
“Well,” the doctor told him, “I suggest you go home and wash possible.” For more laughs check out these work cartoons to help you get through the week.

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Businessman offering a high five to a coworker during a meeting in conference room. Positive boardroom environment.
Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

You insist on a raise

Armed with reams of proof of your worthiness, you are about to barge into your boss’s office prepared to demand the moon. STOP! Read this joke first and dial back your ultimatum.

After two months on the job, the new employee believes he deserves a fat raise.
“And how much of a raise do you want?” asks his boss.
“I’m thinking an extra $50,000 a year,” says the employee.
The boss nods. “Sounds about right. And what would you say to a package of five weeks vacation, 14 paid holidays, and a company car leased every two years, say, a red Corvette?”
The employee sits up straight. “Wow!” he says. “Are you kidding?”
“Yes, but you started it.”

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Group of coworkers during a meeting in an office

You’re nervous about a group presentation

“Speaking in front of a crowd is considered the number one fear of the average person,” said Jerry Seinfeld. “This means, to the average person, if you have to be at a funeral, you would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.” Fear can suddenly overwhelm or gradually paralyze. To calm nerves, Navy SEALS use the 4X4X4X4 breathing technique. Empty your lungs then breathe in deeply for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and hold your empty lungs for four seconds. If you can’t remember to do that, then maybe you can remember this gag:

Q: What did the green grape say to the purple grape?
A: “Breathe, stupid!” These are the most hilarious job interviews HR reps have ever witnessed.

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Diverse group of business people walking through office corridor. Team of corporate professionals walking and talking in modern office hallway.
Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

The office party

Oh, boy. The company’s holiday party is nigh and the guy who fell into the punch bowl last year is the most excited of all. Advise him to tone it down this year with this Phyllis Diller quote:

“What I don’t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.”

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Laughing young businesswoman standing in a modern office with a diverse group of work colleagues smiling in the background
Flamingo Images/Shutterstock

Your boss is clueless

Your boss is not technically savvy and it has resulted in many a mistake, most of which you get blamed for. Share a not-too-subtle joke that hopefully will clue her in to the fact that she’s no Elon Musk:

A new employee is leaving at the end of his first day and sees the big boss standing by a paper shredder with a confused look on her face. The boss looks at the new guy and asks, “Do you know how to use this? This document has a lot of important confidential data on it.”
“Why yes I do,” replies the eager young man as he takes the paper from his boss, turns on the machine, and starts feeding the paper in.
“Great,” says the boss, “I need three copies.” Don’t miss these cringe-worthy stories about the worst bosses you’ll ever meet.

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Cropped shot of a young businessman sitting in a job interview

The company lawyer takes you to task

You had a nasty run-in with the company’s lawyer. That thing you did with petty cash? Yeah, it’s illegal. Don’t let it get you down. Instead, remember with whom you’re dealing:

Q: What’s the difference between a lawyer and a sperm?
A: The sperm has a one-in-a-million chance of becoming a human being!

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Business colleagues looking at a laptop computer and laughing. Office mates enjoying their work and having fun in office.
Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

You have IT issues

Know what an algorithm is? It’s a word used by programmers when they don’t want to explain what they did. Has anyone who’s not in IT ever understood what the IT guy is saying? Doubtful. Here’s a gag that will prepare you for the inevitable run-around after you’ve asked for help:

Q: How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None—that’s a hardware problem. Check out these hilarious excuses real people have used to get out of work.

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Smiling young women having fun during cooperation at desktop in office , happy female colleagues laughing at joke during working process using modern technology for collaborating on common project

Office gossip

“Loose lips sink ships” was the saying during World War II, and it still goes for the office. Talk too much and it’s bound to make the rounds, like this gag will:

Three co-workers are at lunch when they confess to their shortcomings.
“I drink too much,” says the first. “In fact, I keep a bottle in my desk drawer at all times.”
“I lust after all the women in our office,” admits the second guy.
The first two turn to the third. “What about you?”
“Me? I can’t stop gossiping.” We’ve all tried to come up with a believable excuse instead of just accepting defeat at some point in our lives. Check out these funniest excuses ever uttered.

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Two female work colleagues talking in the street, close up
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Your manager casts blame

Your boss has a habit of blaming you for all her screw-ups. Since it’s always tough to tell off someone who can fire you, share a gag that hopefully will get your point across.

A woman is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes she’s lost. She spots a man down below and shouts, “Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?”
The man below says, “Yes, you’re in a hot air balloon, hovering 30 feet above this field.”
“You must work in Information Technology,” says the balloonist.
“I do,” replies the man. “How did you know?”
“Everything you have told me is technically correct, and yet it’s of no use to anyone.”
The man below says, “You must work in management.”
“I do. How did you know?”
“Well, you don’t know where you are, or where you’re going, but you expect me to be able to help; and you’re in the same position as you were before we met, but now it’s my fault.” Next, check out these daily life cartoons that will crack you up.

Andy Simmons
Andy is a longtime editor at Reader’s Digest, where he’s edited and reported on national interest, dramas and humor. He is the author of Now That’s Funny! featuring his most popular, funniest writings on all things America, some exclusive and all-new, some taken from the award-winning pages of Reader’s Digest. He also wrote, That Reminds Me of a Joke ..., a collection of gags and hilarious true stories taken from the news. In a past life, Andy graduated from Kenyon College and was an editor at National Lampoon Magazine.