The Funniest Humor in Advertising
Since April is National Humor Month, someone in our agency had the bright idea that I should write about humor in advertising.
What makes me qualified to write about humor? Well, if we go by the same requirements used by social media consultants then I’m happy to report that in addition to many unrelated LinkedIn endorsements, I’ve been laughing at funny things for the better part of 40 years while only occasionally telling my own jokes. Yeah, I know.
The problem however, is that there is nothing more unfunny than deconstructing a good laugh. It’s not unlike the awkwardness that occurs when someone tries to tell you about something funny: their enthusiasm is mildly contagious as you silently, hopefully, convince yourself this person will be if not funny, then brief. Your naive hope gets you through the first 30 seconds or so of this person’s story before a sense of panic sets in as you both come to realize:
A) They just gave away the punchline
B) They are on the verge of offending you or someone near you
C) Not everyone’s a comedian but everyone’s a critic
D) They just spent the better part of your attention span ‘splainin why something was funny instead of just showing it to you on their Facebook feed (because let’s face it, that’s where they saw it).
Putting all that aside, I agreed it was a reasonably good idea to write about humor in advertising. Naturally a little research was in order so I started by carefully reading my work email.
After that, I mostly composed myself and began searching YouTube for ads I vaguely recall making me laugh or at least half-chuckle. Unfortunately, the search term “ads that make me chuckle” didn’t yield the results I’d hoped for. Undaunted I racked my brain for a solid two minutes trying to recall the names of auto insurance companies. After all, the only thing they love more than making money, er…I mean protecting your future… is making funny ads.
Once I had a good list, I began to sort these ads into categories of humor: ironic, deadpan, farcical, highbrow or my personal preference, lowbrow. I’m happy to report it wasn’t until I found myself classifying work into sub-categories like epigrammatic that I began to hate myself.
So like many a frustrated modern writer facing a deadline, I turned not to the bottle but to the Google for my muse. Hoping to find the spark of inspiration from which I could build the foundation of this article (and being only momentarily distracted by a looming sense of mixed metaphors) my angry searches dug up this wonderful quote from the late, great Robert Benchley…what’s that? Not familiar with Mr. Benchley? Apparently he was a Harvard educated humorist (meaning he inherited all his money) and newspaper columnist who declared that, “Defining and analyzing humor is a pastime of humorless people.”
Dammit, now I really hate myself.
This is the point at which you realize the headline of this post was really nothing more than linkbait and I am a total hack who hasn’t the first clue about humor in advertising and you begin to slowly back away…
That is of course assuming you are one of the statistical few who actually stuck around for more than just the catchy title.
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