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September 20, 2014

Can Insurance Be Funny? Should It?

Summary:

Monty Python and others think so. The humor is the equivalent of reading the cartoons in the newspaper before you get to the real stuff.

Photo Courtesy of Paul Townsend

I was thinking recently about humor in insurance, oddly enough coinciding with the recent final performance by the Monty Python team in London. Insurance was on the Python’s radar, even offered as a safer alternative to being a lumberjack. There was one notable sketch about motor insurance. I must confess I’m almost nervous about reminding everyone of the content, but it went like this:

….Oh! And the next item is a sketch about insurance called ‘Insurance Sketch’….

(Cut to Mr Devious’s insurance office. Devious and a man are sitting there.)

Devious: What do you want?

Man : Well I’ve come about your special fully comprehensive motor insurance policy offer.

Devious: What was that?

Man: Fully comprehensive motor insurance for one-and-eightpence.  [Author’s note: about two dimes in real money]

Devious: Oh, oh, yes, yeah, well, unfortunately, guv, that offer’s no longer valid. You see, it turned out not to be economically viable, so we now have a totally new offer.

Man: What’s that?

Devious: A nude lady.

Man: A nude lady?

Devious: Yes. You get a nude lady with a fully comprehensive motor insurance. If you just want third party, she has to keep her bra on, and if it’s just theft….

You’ll find the full text of that script here.

There was humor in commercials well before geckos. Consider this video of a little dog called Lucky.

Another InsuranceThoughtLeadership contributor, Shefi Ben Hutta, this month launched a new site that I unashamedly am willing to promote, called theSkinnie, which merges insurance with entertainment.

It’s a smart idea — the equivalent of reading the cartoons in the newspaper before you get to the real stuff. I must confess that when I first saw this, it felt like going to the dentist — lots of nerves were touched. But it made me think more about my industry and shook me out of any complacency.

So, is there any way that insurance can be funny? It’s an industry that constantly lives with disaster, illness and misfortune. Most of its practitioners inevitably create personal defense mechanisms, often through humor, so as not to take our jobs home with us. But there are lighter moments.

Oddly enough, all the contributors to this site, and all its readers, are connected by a golden thread, a thread of responsibility coupled with objectiveness. At the end of the working day, most of us breathe a slight sign of relief that, whatever it was, it happened to someone else and not to us.

Or as Monty Python would have said, “Always look on the bright side of life.”

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About the Author

Tony Boobier is a former worldwide insurance executive at IBM focusing on analytics and is now operating as an independent writer and consultant. He entered the insurance industry 30 years ago. After working for carriers and intermediaries in customer-facing operational roles, he crossed over to the world of technology in 2006.

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