"Funny" Copy - No Laughing Matter?
A copywriter walks into a bar. The barman asks, why the long face? The copywriter replies with a scathing remark about the audience just not understanding such an amazing sense of humour and smoulders away for the rest of the evening.
Not particularly funny, I think you’ll agree, but it’ll ring true with quite a few bloggers and copywriters. Sometimes people just don’t get the joke.
But does that mean you should leave the comedy to the comedians? Is earnest discourse and straight-down-the-line clarity the only way to create content that really speaks to readers? Or are spinning bowties as important to the writer as the pen?
“The duty of comedy is to correct men by amusing them” – Molière
Think of any great piece of advice you’ve received over the course of your life. Snippets like “don’t eat yellow snow“, or “never run for a woman or a bus – there’ll be another one along shortly” – the chances are that it’ll be at least vaguely humorous.
That’s because we remember funny things. And to be successful, you have to be memorable.
My favourite ever piece of work was a section of an on-hold marketing script for a skip hire company. They knew that comedy would grab their customer’s attention, so I was given free reign to indulge myself. Leading to a 20 second A-Team parody that I can still quote from memory four years later.
So when comedy is that powerful, surely we’d be idiots not to drop in a pun here or there?
“That joke isn’t funny anymore” – Morrissey
Well, maybe we wouldn’t. And not just because punnery is the lowest form of wit.
Regular readers will remember a recent missive entitled “No, I’m Not Going To Read Your Blog.” It showcases what some people consider to be my trademark sarcastic humour, and I loved it.
Here’s a few reactions to that piece, from both the post itself and from various social sites where I was plugging it:
“Oh, come on. You don’t read my drivel because of its url?”
“Wow, that’s not very nice. Well, we need to send you to charm school – again.”
And this zinger from an earlier post:
“This is the type of mindless drivel that makes me want to comment.
I’m tired of all the zero class, overly sensitive, elementary students hoisting their crap out into the world.
Good luck selling your garbage to the next brown nosing “arse” kisser.”
If I’d have written a calm post with no humour, those comments wouldn’t have been made.
My audience don’t all speak English as a first language, and the chances are that your audience and your client’s audience don’t either. So is it really worth alienating people just so a few others remember your content with a wry chuckle?
I think I know where I stand on the issue, but it’s a tricky one…
So, dear reader, what do you think? Should we all try and create a chucklesome post now and again, or is straight-faced seriousness the real secret to success?
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