Do you teach with whimsy? or is your teaching always serious and to the point. I’ve been doing a little research on teaching and humor, and I find it seems to be more common in subject areas where the content may be challenging or disturbing. Its major use seems to be to relieve tension or to discus difficult subjects. In this sense it seems more commonly used when training doctors or nurses, although this may be an artifact of the existence of therapeutic humor.
There are some very serious people considering humor, for instance, here “Educated Insolence”, or closer to home this paper on IHPT. As I’m sure you are aware IHPT is instructional humor processing theory. This paper seems to indicate that telling bad off topic jokes does not aid student learning, but telling on topic good jokes can help. My thinking would be that humor can break down the barrier between the teacher and the class, and particularly with adult learners, overcome their feelings of insecurity about being back in a learning situation. I also feel it can make your examples more memorable, and humorous examples can push your learning more towards a narrative form which can aid memory, but can also distract students from the true point of the exercise.
All thoughts on a postcard please...