Humour in Copywriting

A short while ago I wrote a post on humour in copywriting, debating whether it was a good thing or not.

My conclusion was that if you did want to use humour, you had to use it with caution because not everyone finds the same things funny.

My attention has today been caught by an article in The Drum that states ‘Copywriters will gain inspiration from top Edinburgh Fringe jokes’:

Copywriters seeking inspiration for a good one-liner have hit a rich vein of inspiration at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, if a top 10 list of the best gags at the Festival is representative.

The annual compilation is this year headed by Rob Auton who dreamed up a sweet one-liner: ‘I heard a rumour that Cadbury is bringing out an oriental chocolate bar. Could be a Chinese Wispa.’

At the other end of the scale was a list of shame featuring groan inducing material such as ‘I thought ex-pats were people who used to be called Pat’.

Compiled by television channel Dave, the list was compiled from 60 shows which presented more than 7,200 gags between them.

These were whittled down to a short list of 30 which were then put to a public vote.

This saw Auton, a former SoHo paintbrush salesman, walk away with 24 per cent of the 2,570 votes cast along with a cash prize.

Commenting on his accolade he said: “I am honoured to receive this award and just pleased that a joke that tackles the serious issue of the invention of a new chocolate bar can be laughed at by the people of Britain.”

The top 10 quips:

1 Rob Auton “I heard a rumour that Cadbury is bringing out an oriental chocolate bar. Could be a Chinese Wispa.”

2 Alex Horne “I used to work in a shoe-recycling shop. It was sole-destroying.”

3 Alfie Moore “I’m in a same-sex marriage… the sex is always the same.”

4 Tim Vine “My friend told me he was going to a fancy dress party as an Italian island. I said to him ‘Don’t be Sicily’.”

5 Gary Delaney “I can give you the cause of anaphylactic shock in a nutshell.”

6 Phil Wang “The Pope is a lot like Doctor Who. He never dies, just keeps being replaced by white men.”

7 Marcus Brigstocke “You know you are fat when you hug a child and it gets lost.”

8 Liam Williams “The universe implodes. No matter.”

9 Bobby Mair “I was adopted at birth and have never met my mum. That makes it very difficult to enjoy any lapdance.”

10 Chris Coltrane “The good thing about lending someone your time machine is that you basically get it back immediately.”

Not entirely convinced I’ll be trying any of those out in my copy.

Over to you

If you’re a copywriter, or write copy for your business, what are your views on using humour?

Are you ever tempted to slip a gag or two into your content? If you have, what reaction did you get?

Leave your comments below.

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#1 Alconcalcia on 10.01.14 at 5:35 pm

I was asked to write a series of funny lines for a campaign last year as the client noticed I write copy AND comedy (though the comedy has taken a bit of a back seat since I had a sitcom in development with the BBC for a while a few years ago). By and large though I wouldn’t try to inject humour unless the client specifically asked for it. I got a gig once writing a video script for a gaming company with the piece being performed by a high profile individual from that particular industry. They specifically asked that it be informative but also amusing. But had they not, I’d probably have gone for ‘friendly professional’. Difficult to randomly throw a gag into a piece of copy unless you can justify its inclusion.

#2 admin on 10.02.14 at 8:35 am

Hi Alasdair, thanks for your comment, Yes, humour can be powerful, but it can also backfire big time. We all have different ideas about what’s funny and what’s not, so unless specifically asked for, it’s always safer to steer well clear.

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