Write Funny For The Money
Do you write funny in your headlines, subject lines, email lines, or the body of your texts? If you do, you have a 33% chance of making more sales in whatever business you do! Now, I can’t prove that per se. But wouldn’t it be funny if I could? One thing for sure, though, is you will make a deeper connection with your customers and your clients if you are able to make them laugh and find your brand humorous.
The science of laughter is still a mystery at the deepest of levels. But plenty of books go through and break down why laughter is most likely to happen. The number one thing is surprise! When a writer or speaker or a scene in a movie delightfully surprises you, laughter ensues. Laughter is the release of tension that builds. When a surprise occurs, laughter releases the pressure in the mind of the listener. We do know how to infuse humor in writing.
An old Navy Senior Chief once said to one of his seamen (junior enlisted men) who scored a 40% on an exam. “Damn, son, if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.” Looking at that sentence, it sounds like the Senior Chief is encouraging the enlisted man to cheat on an exam. But that is not what the Chief is implying. He is using the statement “tongue & cheek.” The underlying humor is used to tell the young man that he needs to try more and work harder and smarter to learn information that has eluded him. When some people hear this, however, they take it on the license to lie, cheat and steal, but it is not. It is a euphemism.
When it comes to effective marketing, as it relates to humor, one thing is for sure. The majority of Super Bowl commercials that have been released have made attempts at humor because it makes them both memorable and brings joy & delight to their potential customers. We can be sure that those two intangible things increase sales most of the time.
So what can you do if you want to write funnier? Well, we’ve got some good news and some bad news, which one do you want? I’ll go ahead and give you the bad news first. If you want to write funnier, you’ve got to first, attempt to write funny in the first place… (It’s pretty hard, right!?) I know… but seriously, you have to practice it. You have to attempt it. And you have to test it on people to find out if your sense of humor is being perceived well or if people just think you’re a jerk. Ta-da… you have to take risks!!! You’ve got to take chances with your copy, with your visuals, and with a few silly memes now and then, like Elon Musk! That takes trial and error and dusting yourself off when attempts fail. And that takes time. But the good news is you can learn techniques and formulas to help you get to your destination of finding the funny for money.
Many books can help you begin this journey, but we’ll make three referrals so you don’t get lost in the rabbit hole like Alice in Wonderland did. The first one is “Comic Insights” by Franklin Ajaye. The second one is “The Levity Effect” by Adrian Gostick. And the third one is a corporate classic, “Humor Works” by Ph.D. John Morreall. Between those three, you will have a solid baseline to understand a bit deeper the who, what, when, how, and why humor works and how you can incorporate it. And now on to the pro tips of the day, enjoy!
- Virtual Training: If you want actually to improve your sense of humor, you must go through rigorous training. I’m not referring to Marine Corps boot camp, but you need to attend some sort of comedy school. So the first thing we’ll recommend is Scott Dickkers’ comedy business school. This online school has pre-recorded modules, writers’ room meetings, and PDF book downloads to help you improve your capabilities as a humorist. The goal is to teach you all of the ways that you can use humor actually to make money if you desire. Scott is the founder of theOnion.com, one of the longest-running satire newspapers now digitally in the world.
- Live Traning: Attend a local live improv or stand-up class in your neighborhood. Depending on your city, there’s going to be either some of the big schools like the UCB or the Groundlings in LA or some sort of comedy zone improv dinner show. They usually provide training classes to aid you in your endeavors. You can also check out the nearest community college or university for classes on comedy.
- Read, read, read: There are over two dozen books on comedy writing and humor, and you can either read the books or listen to the audiobooks. You can find plenty on the big sites like Amazon, and the local library, or you can download them straight to your phone via awesome content apps like Scribd!
- Listen to Humorous Podcasts: Keep in mind that humor is subjective and in the eye of the beholder. Every single podcast on humor may not be for you. But go there as a young Jedi, looking to use the force for the greater good, and laugh till your socks come off. Scott Dikkers has a podcast titled after his book called How to Write Funny, where he interviews comedy writers and actors on their journeys and process. (You can even find an episode with our lead content writer here at Vavoza sharing some tricks of the trade!)
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– Team Vavoza