Filed under: Uncategorized
Timing. It is the cornerstone of a good joke or story. Mess up the timing, and it doesn’t matter how good the set-up is, how witty your descriptions are, or how punchy the punch line hits. The joke will fail, every time. So how do you use timing best in designing something that is obviously visual, like a funny T-shirt? Well, you learn how to manipulate the way someone takes in the visual joke.
There are two forms of humor that rely most heavily on timing: the one-liner and paraprosdokian humor, made famous by the likes of Mitch Hedberg. This refers to a short joke with a surprise ending. The beginning sets you up for the joke, the second half surprises you by taking the thought in a different direction. Probably the most famous one is Henny Youngman’s “Take my wife, please.” One of our favorites is Mitch Hedberg’s “I don’t have a girlfriend; I just know a girl who’d be mad at me for saying that.” On a T-shirt, this is a text-based joke, so it’s pretty straight-forward. Choose something short and to the point, or something overly long and drawn-out – stay away from the in-between. It’s always better to do too little or too much in humor. If you choose to add an image, add it to the bottom, if possible. This way, your reader will have the visual hit after they’ve read the joke. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked.
In Western culture, we read from top to bottom and from left to right. This means that the first place someone automatically looks on a newspaper, book, sign, poster, or T-shirt is the upper left-hand corner. Their eyes then zig-zag to the bottom right of the image. Using this upper-left power position to your advantage will land the best joke; it is easiest when using one-liners or paraprosdokian humor, because people are obviously reading the joke. With visual puns or word/image mixes, aim the “beginning” of the joke at the top left, and then design the image from there, when possible.
Speaking of visual puns… it has been said that puns are the lowest form of humor. That may be true, but puns are, strangely enough, some of the most revered and respected jokes, especially in mixed company. Make a pun in front of your father-in-law and there is a good chance you’re on his good side… at least for a while. Designing a good visual pun, especially one that is over-explained to the point of ridiculousness, or a smart one that hits a few seconds after you take it in, is difficult, but not impossible. Start with something unknown as opposed to the more mundane. Anyone can take a picture of a horse, add wings and bug-eyes, and expect the observer to get “horsefly,” but there is little funny in that. However, take a masked man dripping in milk holding a pointed spoon standing over shredded cereal boxes and broken bowls, and you’re on the right track.
To be concluded. . .
ABOUT WILD GOOSE CREATIVE
Wild Goose Creative is a multi-disciplinary arts company located in central Columbus that creates and promotes relevant, surprising, excellent art. Columbus comedy has found a home at Wild Goose Creative with a full line-up of improv shows, comedy classes, open mic nights, and Columbus’ own Monday Night Live – sketch comedy and local music show. They are also the creators of the first ever Columbus Comedy Festival, which premiered in February of this year. The second installment, Columbus Comedy Festival 1.5, is coming this September 9, 10 and 11. For more information about Wild Goose Creative’s comedy line-up, visit wildgoosecreative.com or email email@example.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Nicholas and Elizabeth Dekker are co-founders of Wild Goose Creative and have been described as the “forces behind the Columbus Comedy Festival.” Nicholas teaches theatre at OSU and also writes the food blog BreakfastWithNick.com, and Elizabeth is the general manager of Wild Goose Creative. They live in Clintonville with their son, the source of most of the hilarity in their lives.
Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment