Monday, July 5, 2010

What are you, a comedian?

Everyone who has ever grown up as the class clown, has heard this from some teacher, usually in middle school. And as, a matter of fact, Mr. Feezer, yes, I am a comedian. Thanks for asking.

Since I sucked at sports. And since I was only moderately attractive to the opposite sex (my orientive preference), I found that honing my comedic skills earned me admiration from all my peers, even the jocks, even the opposite sex.

This is what I found out. When you're funny, people are more likely to like you. You make them laugh. Which makes them feel good. Which is a little gift you give them. In turn, they want to give you something not beating you up.

This is an old principle. Homer knew it twenty-eight centuries ago when he "wrote" the Odyssey (though some contend he didn't actually write it, that it was Shakespeare). In a memorable scene, when the anthropophagic Cyclops, Polyphemus, is amused by Odysseus' wit, he bellows "Ho! Ho! Ho! No-Man, you make Polyphemus laugh! Polyphemus like you. He eat you last." (For those of you unfamiliar with the epic, Odysseus used a pseudonym, "No-Man," which unfolds with hilarious consequences later in the story.)

So humor is good. It is very powerful. It can save lives. It can keep you from being eaten. It can also make big bucks.

Humor has been scientifically proven to work six times better in advertising than dry approaches. This is not a joke. I didn't just make this up to make a point. Several years ago I remember reading an article in AdWeek that a study by the London School of Economics found that ads with humorous content did something like 600% better at drawing response than ads that were merely informative. Somebody actually wrote a grant proposal to get money to run this study. That was funny just by itself. But when I read it, suddenly, my entire life and career were justified, and not merely because I had fun doing it. There was capitalist rationale for it.

Funny ads tend to do better than unfunny ads. For one thing, they tend to make you like the advertiser. They've given you something for free; a laugh. That makes the company seem more human. In turn, you tend to want to give them something back, like buying their product (usually beer). It's a quid pro quo. I make you laugh: You buy my product, and you won't eat me (...unless my product is a hamburger).

So, this is why I went into advertising. I am too shy to have been a stand-up comedian outright (sorry, Mr. Feezer, I knew you were counting on me). So I decided to turn it to more indirect, but commercial uses. Writing a blog..., I meant advertising, of course, silly.

1 comment:

  1. And blessed are those that can laugh at themselves, for shall be forever entertained!