So everyone always asks me how to be funny.
And by "everyone", I mean one person.
And by "one person", I mean my mom.
Well-here's my thing about being funny: Like the great Yoda says,"You do or do not, there is no try."
Because as soon as you try, you have essentially by default, have ceased to become funny.
Funny isn't something you can just piece together like an Ikea dresser, funny is more of a state of being. The hope is that with time and practice, it just comes spouting out of you like that little monstrosity in Alien (which, ironically, scarred me so deeply watching that scene as a child, it pretty much left me humorless until well into my adult life).
And that brings me to problem #2 with being funny: It's totally subjective. What's funny to some people isn't funny to others. And that's okay. But I'll get to that in a minute.
Humor is under-valued and under-appreciated....not only in advertising, but everywhere. Whetehr you are a copywriter, novelist, screenwriter, etc, I don't think there's such a thing as injecting too much humor. People love to smile, and laugh. It's why more people watch the Superbowl for the commercials than the actual game, they want to laugh (I don't know if that's true...just go with it. Don't be an a-hole).
So be funny as much and often as you can, and push your clients to not take themselves too seriously (convince them that no one likes humorless dicks).
Okay, but how do you inject humor into your copy?
Here's 4 tips I would start with:
1. Don't try too hard. This is tough. It's like having to go pee. You're not supposed to think about it, yet the more you don't think about it, the more you do (aaaaand I'll be right back).
One example is puns. Puns work with your friends, but only because your friends appreciate stupid jokes. But rarely do puns work well with copy. Puns are too witty, and people don't like smart asses. They like average asses who can write funny copy in other ways, and not be the butt of the joke (see what I mean? Pun used=I tried too hard)
Having said that, if its an awesome pun....maybe that's one exception you can make.
2. Find out what's funny to you. I don't mean finding stuff to laugh at, that's easy. Just google cat memes. I'm talking about being specific about what about a joke is funny to you? Is it the situation? Is it the way it was delivered? Does sarcasm work for you, and does it work for your audience?
For instance, I think the genius of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm was not the characters, but the situations that the characters found themselves in. Situational humor. It's pretty, pretty good.
3. Write to someone who "gets it". As is the case with writing copy in general, don't write for the masses, write to a specific person.That goes double for writing funny copy. Because a joke that EVERYONE gets would probably be close to the lamest joke in the world. And lame jokes are like black licorice and spiders....there's no reason for them to exist.
4. Study the greats. Like a writer who reads a crap load of books, you can only truly be funny once you learn from the masters. I personally like Larry David, Dave Chapelle, Chris Rock, Louie CK, Demetri Martin, Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, Seth Rogan, Will Ferrell and that list can go on for a while. So study your favorites....even you like someone like, Dane Cook. Okay, maybe anybody not named Dane Cook.
5. Be a dick sometimes. I know its counter-intuitive to the article of this title, but sometimes being a dick is sort of funny. Which brings me to the last point.
6. You don't have to make sense. Logic and order are the arch nemesis's of funny. That's why I always rooted for the Joker, Batman's got a stick up his ass.
So all that said, hopefully you like this post, and have come away with some ideas of what you think is funny. And maybe you thought this post was funny. And if you didn't? Well, that's just like.....your opinion, man.