My therapist also suggests I use humor as a shield, and she's right about that, too. What else have we got with which to defend ourselves against the casual cruelty and endless stupidity of others? As Mel Brooks proved in "The Producers," nothing cuts an enemy down as effectively as biting mockery.
But I use humor in other ways, too. My students consistently report on student evaluations that "Teacher is funny." I like to make students laugh at least once an hour because I think there is something inherently rewarding about "getting a joke" in a second language, and because the physical mechanism of laughter at least brings a burst of oxygen to the brain.
But sometimes I wonder if this is too much of a good thing. Am I sacrificing clarity of purpose for cheap laughs? In other words, do my attempts to keep students engaged through humor obscure the teaching points I have been entrusted to communicate? Are my attempts to make others laugh a gift to them, or just a way to prove to myself how clever I am?
Argh, there I go over-analyzing again, a propensity that makes me a very good therapy patient but a chronically exhausted (and occasionally exhausting) human being.