what makes us laugh? let us count the ways

advertising that makes us smile or better yet, makes us guffaw, is the epitome of engaging. you know when something’s funny, and you know when it’s not, yet it’s not always easy to create humor on demand.

here are a few strategies for when you’re at your wit’s end and need inspiration:

  1. contrasts: betty white on a football field, a toy poodle in a muscled man’s arms, a little girl fixing a muffler, and a male model dating a female rocket scientist all provide a frisson of delightful contrasts.
  2. the unexpected: play against expected outcomes, reactions, and situations by introducing the unexpected. suddenly the Old Spice guy is on a horse, then he’s in a tub, then he’s in a meadow, then he’s antiquing – the unexpected is an unpredictable, wild ride.
  3. the absurd: “this is not an apple.” people appreciate the absurd, especially the french.
  4. slapstick: we hate to admit it, but we do laugh at those gifs where people are falling off of trampolines, then are immediately humped by a nearby dog.
  5. wit: if you can emulate dorothy parker with her bon mots and bone-dry wit, you’ll be golden (with raisins).
  6. puns: some copywriters view them as a too-easy route, others savor them like rubies. since humor is so subjective, if a pun presents itself as perfectly reasonable and entertaining, then go for it.
  7. the bold: something over-the-top and raging out of control is often funny because it’s so out of the norm.
  8. the truth: something that reveals how awkward or vulnerable we feel bonds us together as makes us laugh, sometimes nervously.
  9. the exaggeration: taking what people already believe or know, and amplifying it “clint eastwood addresses twelve empty chairs,” “mitt romney purchases the state of ohio,” “president obama requests triple espresso for debate #2”

what else makes you laugh? send us your favorites.

kim taylor

for more information on our membership and events, visit The Copy Lab.

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