I’m not a fan of inside jokes being told when the audience includes those not privy to the experience that caused the joke. Inside jokes are those sayings, phrases, or even mannerisms whose humorous value is only known to certain people who have shared a moment in time. Inside jokes can be a double edged sword.

Although I’ve been privy to many inside jokes, inside jokes can be exclusionary and cliquish. Some will say they are meant to build a bond between people. Perhaps they do. When shared in a larger group where some may be in on the joke and others have no idea why people are laughing, they have unintended consequences – making others feel excluded. And that is really what I don’t like about inside jokes.

You need to know your audience before telling an inside joke or be willing to explain why what you said was funny. Be prepared, though, for the explanation not to be funny to someone who wasn’t part of the original experience. While all humor is in the eye of the beholder so to speak, that is never more true than with the inside joke. Use them with caution.