What is comedy? Comedy is the art of making people laugh without making them puke. –Steve Martin
In the era of content marketing, everyone is a comedian. Or at least, we all aspire to create genuinely funny content. Great comedic content gets shared, creates engagement, builds brand awareness, and everything else that we want to accomplish as marketers. Unfortunately, it is not easy to be funny. Most truly successful comedians spent years honing their craft, playing in empty bars and theaters, and living paycheck-to-paycheck before hitting it big. Considering the amount of work that these professionals put into getting a laugh, it isn’t a surprise that a lot of “funny” marketing content… isn’t.
Five Lessons on Generating Funny Content.
Don’t Be a Bully.
FAFSA recently learned the hard way that comedy doesn’t work when you use it to make fun of those who are less fortunate than you. After posting the above tweet, they faced a massive backlash and ultimately apologized for the offending post. Comedy can be an effective tool to take on people in power, but never use it to bully or risk facing criticism from the very people who you are trying to entertain.
Funny Happens When You Upend Expectations.
Think about the end of “Ghostbusters.” When the movie’s big villain takes the form of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man everyone laughs. Why? Because it’s a scene that turns expectations on their head. You’d expect the big bad in a movie to turn into something horrifying, not a marshmallow person. Brands like Old Spice, Dollar Shave Club, and Oreo have mastered the art of creating unexpected funny content.
Make Us Care.
The best comedy is grounded in reality. Before you create blowout, hilarious content, you need to make us care about what we’re reading or watching. “Cheers” is one of the most popular sitcoms of all time and a HUGE part of its success was that it made us care about the people in that bar before showing us their flaws and letting us laugh with them. For an example of content that tugs at the heartstrings AND makes you laugh, check out this Traveler’s Insurance commercial from a few years ago.
Commit to What You’re Doing.
Comedy is 90% committing to a bit. Many of the most successful comedians, from John Belushi to Stephen Colbert, succeed by choosing a bit, and committing to it 100% – mind and body. If you’ve decided to create comedic comment, know that you have to go all in, 100% to sell your bit.
If All Else Fails, Hire a Pro.
If you find you’re having a hard time creating comment that genuinely tickles your fans’ funny bones, go out and hire a funny freelancer. Many freelance content creators cut their teeth in comedy writing or performance at some point. Seek out a comedy pro, vet their work, and let them create comedy gold for you.