Whenever you are a part of a group be it a guild, raid group or something from Real Life, things will happen that become "inside jokes". Things that will only take a word, object or place to bring all those shared memories back. When new members enter the group a good way to invite them to become a more intimate part is to share these inside jokes with them. While they may not get the memories or even find the humor it, giving a brief explanation can assist new members in feeling more comfortable when those jokes are remarked on as they will at least know why everyone ELSE is laughing uproariously.
This truth was brought home to my the other night when one of our tanks decided to tease one of our newer members. We had just finished the raid for the night and the new member bid everyone adieu by stating they were going to log off to take a shower. The tank replied "Why didn't you just do it during the raid?" The REST of the raid burst out in laughter. Now the new member was completely bewildered and ask why in the WORLD he should do such a thing as well as expressing his confusion over the general reaction. Another raid member explained how back when we were raiding Naxxramas we had a guild member do just that, go afk without telling anyone to take a shower. Since then it had become a standing joke whenever anyone went AWOL afk during raids. Enlighten but still bewildered our new member logged of for the evening.
Some of my favorite inside jokes are OLD, I mean Vanilla WoW old but they still bring a smile to my face and take me RIGHT BACK to that point again and the people I was with. Sharing some of these jokes with others allows me to not only experience that humor again but invites the new individual to "share the joke" with me. Even better is when THEY also help to create NEW inside jokes or tell some of their own. Joking is often used in our guild by our officers as a way to be more approachable to members as well as to assist in building relationships.
My mount farming partner and I have have a long standing inside joke involving his hunter's pet gorilla "Pookie" and my priest Merla. WAY back in vanilla we use to run A LOT of five mans together with his pet acting as our tank. Pookie for WHATEVER reason was CONSTANTLY walking over to stand in front of my priest and then scratching his butt in her face. At first I thought it was deliberate, that my friend was just doing it to be funny, but no, it was just something this pet would do on his own. This became so annoying to me that I got to the point that whenever I see a gorilla I just run and hide. As several of our guild members have gotten a hold of the Super Simian Sphere they now enjoy chasing me around with it.
Our healing lead has NEVER lived down the time a couple of guild members took her to Feralas to work on her fishing skill and decided to jump off the top of the Twin Colossas. The only problem? They never explained HOW to use the parachute cloak. They landed safely, it took HER a good half hour to find her body smeared down the side of the mountain. (For some reason she never considered just rezing at the spirit healer.) So from time to time our engineers will mention their parachute cloaks and ask her if she needs an explanation on how to use one whenever she gets close to a high ledge (say in ICC for example).
Some jokes, while they started with a specific person, have expanded to include not just that individual but any others that share that class or responsibility. For example another joke that frequently makes the rounds is focused on our healers. Back in Ulduar one of our Druid healers was ill and had taken some medication so that he could do the raid. Unfortunately this medication has the side effect of making one VERY sleepy. We got to Kologarn, about half way through the fight when suddenly this healer just stopped moving. He had fallen asleep at the keyboard IN THE MIDDLE of the the fight. So now if ANY of the healers is moving slow or failing to avoid damage the first question you will hear in our raid is "Did you fall asleep?"
The other thing about inside jokes is they can go from being funny to being hurtful if others are either not aware or not willing to participate in them. We had a situation like this arise not that long ago when one of our members made a "YOU FAIL" comment to another and the receipt took it to heart. Once all of the hullabaloo died down we had a serious discussion about that particular joke and how we wished to handle it in the future. What came out of it was NOW when anyone makes a stellar mistake they are more likely to hear "Epic SUCCESS there!" It allows us to laugh at our errors and puts us in a better frame of mind to make changes.
So what about all of you? Do you have any "Inside Jokes" you treasure? Something that assures a tension relief and a laugh with other members of your guild? Have you ever considered the power of inside jokes and how they can be used to both build up and tear down the camaraderie of your guild? Don't ignore this valuable tool, especially now when many guilds are facing the summer slump before the next expansion. Humor, if used the right way, can make the time you spend together enjoyable, and even the most stressful encounters something you want to do again.