Humor has always been a
good tool to use when seeking to diffuse a situation, break the ice, or liven
up a speech. Who does not enjoy a good joke?
Of course, we may debate what is funny, but there’s no arguing that, especially in these challenging times, laughter is a great way to win people over. Have you tried to be funny when it comes to marketing your brand, selling your book, posting on social media, or securing media coverage?
Okay, so you are not here to deliver one-liners and stinging zingers, especially if you discuss some very serious subject matter, but humor can lighten things up and get people to like you. They certainly will pay closer attention to what you say or write.
In comedy Writing Societies: The Best-Selling Guide to Writing Funny & Getting Paid for It, 3rd Edition by Mark Shatz and Mel Helitzer, we are told how to convey a humorous message. They say:
“Humorists haven one cardinal rule. Don’t be inhibited. When writing, write freely. If your internal critic limits your creativity by saying “This sucks!” then you will be left with nothing.
Your goal is to tap the
full potential of your comedic inventiveness by remembering this mantra: Nothing
sucks. Nothing does suck!
“To write funny, you must first think funny. But if you shoot down your ideas before you try to write, you will destroy any chance of creating something funny.”
We laugh to relieve stress and find a way to accept the world that we live in. We laugh out of surprise and we laugh when a joke makes us feel superior. We even laugh at the silliness of our own ways. There are no shortages of opportunities to tell a joke.
So what are some tricks of the trade?
· Cloak humor as entertainment and lash out at a specific target. Sarcasm works well here.
· Find common experience and universal feelings that everyone can relate to – and poke fun at them.
· Self-deprecating humor offers a punchline that offends no one and makes you seem sympathetic.
· Zero in on celebrities, politicians, and athletes. Everyone is familiar about them and few will come to their defenses.
· Products and brands are good sources of humor, too.
· Poke fun at additions and human frailties, but be careful not to sound hostile or ignorant.
· Everyone can laugh at family jokes. Same with technology.
· Use the power of ideation, exaggeration, emotion, ego, power, desire, and the cycle of life and death to reference the funny side of things.
· Jokes have a certain chemistry and cadence. The build-up, timing, and perspective of a joke is key.
· Words, “the atoms of humor,” can be key to your joke. Puns, double entendres, malapropisms, oxymorons, or even made-up words can garner a laugh.
· Some just use shock and awe. Lots of cursing and hyped-up stage energy may elicit laughs too.
· Employ the power of clichés, synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms to be funny as well.
· Irony, overstatements, understatements, anecdotes, one-liners, and news-of-the-day can all be joke material.
Humor comes when we least
expect it. It is when the predictable turns unpredictable. It is when we build
someone up and tear them down. It is when we hold a mirror to ourselves, see
shortcomings, and provide unforgiving insights. Humor is in everything.
Shatz and Helitzer say: “A well-constructed joke does the following:
“Uses as few words as possible.
“Does not reveal key words
in the set-up.
“Saves the funniest word
for the end.”
Humor can take us anywhere. It can touch upon our dearest moments, fears, and failures. It can attack successes and fame. It can laser in on any aspect of life and touch sensitive areas. Race, religion, sexuality, politics, and other parts of our identity, can be attacked in jokes. There’s a thin line between humor and meanness, between laughter and tears. Know your audience – and know your limits.
So should you send out joke-filled press releases and punchline-filled blog posts? Or make a comedic video and give presentations laced with one-liners?
Use your judgment, but don’t deny yourself the use of a very powerful weapon. Humor can be a wonderful resource when marketing yourself. Whether people laugh with you – or at you – leave ‘em in stitches!
Excerpted From Comedy Writing Secrets:
“Humor is a rubber sword –
it allows you to make a point without drawing blood.”
“Humor is tragedy plus time.”
“I’ve always said, I like
my coffee like I like my men… I don’t drink coffee.”
“It’s amazing that the
amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the
“I went to a bookstore and
asked the saleswoman where the self-help section was. She said if she told me
it would defeat the purpose.”
“I was on the toilet for so
long. I finally said to myself, “I’m getting too old for this shit.”
“I hate to travel. I guess
it’s because my father used to beat me with a globe.”
“People say to me, “You’re
not very feminine.” Well, they can just suck my dick.”
“I sold my house this week.
I got a good price for it – but it made my landlord mad as hell.”
“Where there’s a will,
there’s a family fighting over it.”
“People tell me that
they’re disgusted with my kind of language. So, I ask if I can take’em out to
the parking lot and slam a car door on their hand. Then, they’ll say both
“shit” and “motherfucker.”
“I was the best man at the
wedding. If I’m the best man, why is she marrying him?”
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