Laughing is Good For the Soul: Three Ways to Add Humor to Storytelling

MAKE ‘EM LAUGH!  Joel Osteen begins every message he delivers with a funny story or joke. He knows the importance of the power of laughter and how it can immediately grab the attention of his audience, put them in a good mood, and it sets the stage for his positive message.

So how do you infuse humor into your content so that it feels organic, because, let’s face it: if humor is forced it will flop.  Using humor well really depends on the product, brand, or service that you provide, as to whether using humor is right for you and if it will work.

Add Humor to Your Content & Storytelling to Capture Your Audience.

So, a little-known fact about me.  I know a few things about this topic because a long time ago in a land not so far away, I performed stand-up comedy a few times in New York.  This was around the same time that I was an Associate Producer on “Live with Regis & Kathie Lee” and I convinced the Executive Producer of the show, Michael Gelman, to let me deliver the audience warm-ups when Michael was on vacation (he was the regular warm-up act).   Regis said I got the audience heated to a nice “lukewarm” level (LOL) and to my defense, I was just “starting out.”

After my short adventures in stand up comedy, I left the Big Apple behind and headed to Hollywood with visions of writing for sitcoms. I have quite a nice portfolio of un-produced spec scripts for shows like “Murphy Brown,” “Home Improvement,” and “The Wonder Years.”  I even worked on a sitcom at Paramount Pictures for a season as a Writer’s Assistant with some of the biggest names in the business, so I understand the anatomy of a joke, what works and what doesn’t, and ways to punch up a story and inject an element of humor.

Marianne Schwab (1st Row) Seinfeld “Bubble Boy” Episode, Season 4.

Another little-known fact about me and my adventures in comedy? I was in the “Bubble Boy” episode of Seinfeld and have the screen grab (above) to prove it. So exciting to be a part of comedic history.

Now, here are three quick tips on where humor works best for the “non-comedian.”

1. VIDEO ADS.   Think about the problem your product solves and how people may look silly when they are immersed in the problem.  Infomercials do this ALL the time, but…it’s not meant to be funny and is actually a little cheesy.  So study what they do, but make it true to your brand.

2.  VIDEO TUTORIALS. Think of the mistakes that people make on the topic you’re instructing on especially if these mistakes are common.  Observational humor works because your audience sees themselves in a convicted, but not condemned sort of way.  It also makes learning fun and memorable.

3. ATTRACTION VIDEOS or SALES VIDEOS.  Use humor in the telling of your story.  Now, if you just sit down and try to bring funny stories to your mind, you’ll probably draw a blank.  But now that I have planted this seed in your brain, noodle on it and when a funny memory comes to mind, record it in your notes section on your smartphone or maybe even go “old fashioned” and write it down on a piece of paper.

As a former TV Talk Show Producer, I was always looking for that funny and memorable story from my celebrity guest that would not only make good TV, but also endear our audience to the celeb because that’s what funny stories do…they endear you to your audience.  And then they’ll want to go see your film (or buy your product).  My guest’s story could have been something that happened on the set with another famous actor, how they blew a line and how it came out really wrong, the time they got pulled over by a cop, or they might have an unusual skill they weren’t good at (like magic tricks gone wrong.)

Think of your own “behind-the-scenes” stories – things that happened in high school or college, your first jobs, funny mistakes you made on the job but then learned from, and so on.  Don’t tell a joke for the sake of injecting humor, but find a teaching moment in your story that is also humorous and made people laugh.  It should not feel contrived, but organic.

Finally, remember that even the most experienced comedians, like Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno, test their material before they roll it out that not every joke gets a laugh.  Comedy is an art but that doesn’t mean that you still can’t harness its power in your body of content.

Andrew Carnegie said, “There is little success where there is little laughter.” Now, go out and make ’em laugh.•

You are invited to join my exclusive Facebook Group to Grow Your Business with Video.

Copyright © 2019 by Marianne Schwab. All Rights Reserved.

Marianne Schwab is the author of The Insider’s Guide to Media Training and, as Content Creation Strategist, she is the go-to broadcast media expert to show you how to get booked on TV and ace your on-camera interview. Her producer credits include Live with Regis & Kathie Lee, Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, Runaway with the Rich & Famous, E! Entertainment Television ON E! Specials, and many more. She has worked in broadcast for over 25 years and is currently the Executive Producer for CMP Media Cafe, a company specializing in broadcast public relations where she provides customized media training services for clients.

Follow Marianne on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Copyright © 2019 by Marianne Schwab. All Rights Reserved.

%d bloggers like this: