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Funny because it’s true! What comedians can teach us about compliance

Recently, the iconic pioneer of female British comedy, Victoria Wood, lost her battle to cancer. The world lost one of the greatest and funniest observers of “the ordinary” I have ever seen.

Victoria had a talent for turning everyday occurrences into extraordinarily, funny and poignant events. I grew up watching her turn normal songs humorous, perform stand up, star in her own TV show, be a serious actress, and a play a host of other parts for which she won award after award.

Her diverse approach to communicating with her audience greatly influenced the work I do today. I believe that entertainers and comedians like Victoria can continue to influence many others in the world of compliance.

Here’s why:

She found importance in the ordinary. Compliance breaches don’t start with the big headline news events; they start with small, everyday behaviors and acts that grow overtime. “It’s just one payment of $50;” “it’s just a business class flight,” “it’s just the way we do things here.” If we can highlight and become more aware of the everyday events, then we can make “ordinary” bribery rituals extraordinary.

Her work will live on. That’s because Victoria Wood won the hearts and minds of her audience. Compliance “with heart” is also essential. A sincere, unscripted few words about integrity by a respected executive will stick in people’s minds far longer than dry and legalistic training.

She had an eclectic approach to her work. Instead of concentrating on just one style, she used whatever style would make her messages ‘sing’. In Compliance, there is no one size fits all. Real engagement comes when people are served up different dishes to suit people’s different appetites. I call it ‘assorted compliance’.

She was funny. We laughed with her because she showed people in their real light in a way that we could relate to. Ever heard the saying –‘it’s funny because it’s true’. When people see case studies on stories and people they can relate to, they will listen, and most likely, be a little grateful it’s not them.

She used her talents. She was not the most traditionally beautiful of women. Indeed, even if she were, you wouldn’t know, as she played her appearance down. Instead, she made the most of what she did have — talent. Compliance is often time poor, resource poor and branding poor. So we must use the talents we have at our disposal. Whether it’s a talent for relationship building, a talent for presentations or a talent for sincerity and following through, use what you have and what’s you’re good at. Then use others for what you’re not.

*     *     *

Comedians, like compliance professionals, work extremely hard, often for what must seem like little reward. But if we hang in there like the great comedians, I believe our hard work will be remembered for making a difference to people’s lives.

If you have a “funny because it’s true” story to share, please email me here.


Nicole Rose is CEO of Create Training. She’s a lawyer, trainer, writer and artist. Together with her team of animators and artists, Create Training has been making compliance training videos for learners around the world. It can customize training in any language and also has a collection of animated compliance training videos Follow her on Twitter @createtraining2. Contact her here.

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  1. It sounds like she left her legacy, an imprint on the hearts and lives of those she came in contact with, on this world. I, for one, will certainly look into gleaning from her unique perspectives. Thank you for sharing. <3

  2. Sometimes, to bring a fresh perspective on compliance issues, there is no need to delve in great depth into the complex events but use learning from small, everyday behaviors and acts considering the ethical dimensions of them.

  3. I really enjoyed this post. It was a sad day in England and its seam around the world when Victoria pasted away. I am a daily reader of the FCPA, this one grasped my attention. Not only I am big fan of Ms Wood, she was also from my home town of Bury.

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