Is your business a laughing matter? W. Grant Brownrigg thinks so. After 20-plus years as a manager in small companies and nonprofits, Brownrigg has turned humorist with the creation of "Grantland," a three-year-old cartoon strip that gently satirizes business life.

It's the "gently," it seems, that makes "Grantland" work. His respectful approach in mind, the 47-year-old Brownrigg scored a strategic coup by pitching his strip primarily to employee newsletters and other internal publications -- a market ignored by most cartoonists. Such clients apparently like "Grantland's" brand of humor, which tends to the whimsical rather than the caustic. The strip's circulation, Brownrigg claims, has climbed from one client with 10,000 readers in 1984 to 1.6 million readers of approximately 350 publications today.

Experience, says Brownrigg, is the secret to "Grantland's" appeal. "I am not a cartoonist trying to figure out what's going on in business," insists the M.B.A. "I'm a businessman trying to figure [it] out." Perhaps -- but how many businessmen get paid to make light of their customers?