A typical example of the humor in Dilbert
For most people, work is a painful thing. However, from that pain can come come great humor, as illustrated in Scott Adams office-humor masterpiece Dilbert.
Dilbert first made its way onto the scene in early 1989 and its since become a media sensation. And while the white-collar workers of Dilbert are perhaps the most inefficient workers a corporation could ask for, corporations and white-collar workers everywhere flock to the strip for its relatable humor.
The main character of the strip, Dilbert, is a technical minded single man who has very few social skills. He works in an office where he becomes easily frustrated with the incompetence of his coworkers (this frustration is what most of the strip's humor is derived from.)
Surrounding Dilbert is a rather large cast (for a comic strip) of incompetent, lazy, angry coworkers including The Pointy Haired Boss, a hilariously cliche characterization of clueless, ethic-less upper-management; Wally, Dilbert's hopelessly lazy friend and co-worker; Alice a competent but extremely angry engineer who has a lot of trouble controlling her "Fist of Death," and Dogbert, Dilbert's megolomaniac "pet" dog.
The humor in Dilbert, while based on a white-collar environment, is easily relatable to anyone who has worked in a place where they are affected on a daily basis by the incompetency of their coworkers and the seemingly endless control that upper management has on their day. This means that Dilbert can be as easily appreciated by a factory worker as by a secretary or someone in middle-management. And even though this is the case, it seems that Dilbert still remains more popular with the office workers of America than with the construction workers.
Much of the humor of the strip stems from exploring highly relatable themes such as incompetent and sadistic management (usually in the form of micromanagement, failure to improve morale and scheduling without reference to reality) and stupidity of the general public, and business ethics. For example, a quick glance at today's Free Press comics' section will reveal that today Wally talks his way out of doing a favor for a coworker by giving a round about lecture on the nature of favors and friendship.
Dilbert has scores of dedicated fans and has spawned countless merchandising campaigns, a short-lived animated series and the character himself has even appeared on the cover of Fortune magazine. If you've never read Dilbert because you thought you wouldn't understand the humor, that it was for "other" people, give it a shot. You may find out that your life is more like Dilbert's than you think.