10 tips for reaching the audience funny bone
Written by: Cari McCoy, VP Creative Services
In business, being funny can feel scary. Humor can be polarizing, and people experience it in different ways, which can be a little unnerving for a marketer. But it’s important to remember that humor isn’t just comedy, it’s general silliness, a way of working or speaking that is unique, and it is a skill that can be learned. Here are 10 tips to inject a little fun into the monotonous.
1. Know your audience
This is at the foundation of any comedic attempt, right? Know who your audience is and who they are not. Dr. Peter McGraw says to think of yourself as tea (I know, weird. Stay with me). Hot tea or iced tea: which are you? You can’t be both. And if you try to please both the hot tea lover and the iced tea lover, you just end up being lukewarm tea – and who wants that?
2. Tell the truth
Don’t try to be funny, just be honest. Observe reality and reflect it back to the audience. We tend to laugh the loudest at the comedic bits that make you say “that is so me!” In saying the thing everyone is thinking, you tap into a personal connection that makes you immediately relatable and likable.
3. Exaggerate the truth
A simple way to make the truth funny is to overstate or embellish your observations. Take this example of a modified airplane seating chart.
It’s a common opinion that airplane seating is far too crowded and unpleasant. The author took advantage of that relatable observation to exaggerate and make it visual (see tip #8).
4. Get people’s attention with incongruity
Roses are red, violets are blue, poetry sucks. Bacon.
5. Teach something silly
Take something simple or obvious and dissect it, then provide instruction. Sarah Cooper really nails this one with her 9 Nodding Strategies. The genius of this is that we clearly don’t need instructions for how to nod, and that is precisely what makes it so funny.
6. Compare and contrast
Identify two things and show the audience what they have in common or what they don’t. Unexpected comparisons are disruptive and have the potential to leave a lasting impression. Example: Teenagers Are Like Cats
7. Find a twist, mash it up
Do you have something mundane that you still need to communicate to your audience? Try mashing it up with something more relatable. Allow me to introduce a few members of the Leverage creative team… if they were pop stars.
KeatON POINT Wanniger
DROP THE MIKE Staebell
Rachel NeveR SAY NEVER
8. Make it visual
It’s hard to convey slapstick comedy in written material, but there are ways to achieve the visual interaction. The rise of internet memes, emojis, and GIFs has transformed the way we communicate with each other. We are edging closer and closer to communicating completely without the written word thanks to technology, so cater to your audience and serve up the silliness with visual assistance.
9. Stay positive
Mean comedians have their place (seedy comedy clubs for the most part), but they aren’t typically well-liked and they definitely don’t belong in marketing. It’s okay to be sassy, playful, and even a bit satirical. It is not okay to be mean, angry, or cynical. This seems obvious but be careful of tone and delivery because a little bit of snark can be easily confused for aggression. Keep it upbeat.
10. Rule of 3
This is also known as the comedic triple. The holy trinity, The Three Stooges, Goldilocks and the 3 Bears: there is plenty of evidence that shows the affinity we humans have for triples. A pattern that’s easy to digest, a comedic triple builds tension as the audience waits to get to the payoff. Disrupt the triple and you’ve got yourself a joke.
She’s hateful, she’s despicable, I’m in love.
Can I get you anything? Cup of coffee? Doughnut? Toupee?
A woman walks into a bar, sticks two fingers up to the barman and says, “Five beers please.”
Use the first two items to set up the pattern, then disrupt it with the third.
Evoke emotion, remain memorable
Evidence shows that the most memorable brands are the ones that are able to strike an emotional chord with the consumer. To make a person laugh is to give them joy, and that is something people remember. So add these tricks to your tool bag, get out there and try a little silly, and always try to sit first class with a nodding teenage cat.
Need help finding your funny? We can help.