The stand up comics had it right all along. Tackle the really juicy issues with humour and you’ll likely get heard.
The clarity of discourse, and deep convictions many favorites bring is the stuff of legend.
And the stuff of very good content.
Think about what last ‘stopped your mindless scroll’.
Or made you click.
Or made you open.
Or made you download/subscribe/screenshot/forward to a friend or colleague.
Chances are it involved humour or wit or charm.
Some type of personality, essentially.
Something with a high entertainment quotient.
Ie: The Other EQ
EQ is the accepted acronym for ‘emotional quotient’ – better known in the mainstream world as ‘emotional intelligence’.
In this column, we set out to explore the ‘age of entertainment’ in marketing. And prove beyond the shadow of a doubt (just kidding; we’ll build a compelling and funny case) that what modern marketing sorely lacks right now is entertainment.
The Other EQ!!! Entertainment Quotient.
Very important lesson number 1 in entertaining: timing is everything
“But, but, but these are terrible-horrible-no-good-times. Absolutely rubbish timing, no?”
“Humour in times of a global pandemic, Susan? Really??”
“With people sick and dying everywhere?”
Where does your ‘Entertainment Quotient’ fit into your post-apocalyptic marketing?
Come on, folx. Never underestimate the twisted minds of human beings. As far back as the bubonic plague days of the 14th century, comics and writers were taking the p!ss out of people running (literally!) for the hills. “The Decameron,” by Boccaccio, tells 100 witty, joke’y stories about a group of (probably rich) young women and men, as they sheltered outside of Florence, Italy in an effort to escape the pestilence.
No Zoom calls for them!
“Nothing is so indecent that it cannot be said to another person if the proper words are used to convey it.”
― Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron
(It comes back to words, doesn’t it? It comes back to words, doesn’t it? You see why I’ll always be a writer?)
Fast forward to today, and not surprisingly, social media is awash with some of the best Covid-19 humour out there:
“A year from now, you’ll all be laughing about this virus,” read one early-pandemic meme. “Not ALL of you, obviously.”
“Your quarantine alcoholic name is your first name followed by your last name.” (<<< Can relate!)
Another legendary piece of art from pandemic-times depicts the never ending Zoom meetings we’ve all been suffering through, but with a twist!
**Jesus conducting the Last Supper via Zoom**
“Judas, you on?”
(Is this an NFT yet??? Hellz, I hope so. Anyone know the original creator? Toilet paper has already been NFT-ed for posterity-documenting-of-it’s-prohibition-status *cue currency in the toilet jokes*)
“But, Susan! Those are just gifs and memes, where does it fit into serious marketing stuff?”
That’s what we’ll tell you. Show and tell in full. With oodles of examples and delicious interviews with super funny humans – at life and at brands. In our book, “The Other EQ”
For the purpose of this column though; fear not! I’ve broken it down into a few very-important-lessons-in-entertaining that will run for 12 weeks.
Cue to get back to the lesson at hand today, timing. And why the pandemic might be the PERFECT time to flex those giggle muscles 😁
The science of a deeply intelligent art-form
We’ve all been under an exorbitant amount of stress for over a year – which means our stress hormone – cortisol – is probably peaking. When people say “Stress kills,” cortisol is one of the reasons.
“When we are stressed, [cortisol] goes high and this interferes with the parts of the brain that regulate emotions. When that happens, the immune system deteriorates and becomes washed in a sea of inflammation, which is a factor in heart disease, cancer and dementia. Cortisol interferes with the body’s immune system, putting us at risk for these three groups of diseases.” – source Washington Post
Canadian comedian Leonard Chan saw his stand-up career, well, fall down when Covid-19 hit. Not surprisingly, he leans on humour to cope – and told the CBC he doesn’t feel there’s ever a “bad time” for a good joke.
“I don’t think there’s ever ‘too soon’ for jokes. There’s too soon for bad jokes … the sooner it is to a tragedy, the better the joke has to be.”
Laughter can also do more than just make us laugh – it can help us assess potential threats. Caleb Warren, a University of Arizona professor and a co-founder of the Humor Research Lab (HuRL – no really, it’s called that 😂), calls it “benign violation theory” – in layman’s terms – we are more open to something that feels violating, as long as it’s done benignly. Enter comedy – especially the darkest taboo breakers.
The Humor Research Lab has also studied laugher (no sh*t, Sherlock, amirite?? 🤣), and believe humans and other mammals (like apes) use laughter as a communication signal. By laughing, you’re showing that what appears threatening, really isn’t that big of a problem after all.
That certainly explains why so many more brands are getting on the giggle train.
“You’re not going to die, continue to buy from me”.
Or maybe it’s “YOU’RE GOING TO DIE! Quick, buy from me in the time that counts!”
Both direction’s will have some takers ✅
So, set the ‘this is bad timing to explore the funnies’ attitude aside. Think instead what you can do to lower the collective cortisol (Hey! that should be a pandemic band! Collective Soul covers! Geddit?)
See? That’s a joke 👆
One that told you a little bit about my music and a little bit about my love of mildly-juvenile jokes. And of most gifs with an Obama in it. You know me a bit more. And you giggled a little bit, didn’t you? Even if you didn’t REALLY think it was funny.
Try it in your writing. Whatever you write for.