When Subjectivity Rears Its Ugly Head

Guest Post by Vandy Kindred

Everyone has been through this. You write the funniest spot in the history of the world. You go through all the internal reviews, and the consensus from all involved is fall-on-the-floor laughter and “Book the tickets to Cannes.” Even the HR people get it. Then you roll up in front of the client, present the script and… well, you know what happens next.

Crickets.

Actually, worse than crickets.

Dead crickets.

After a minute of silence to observe the previous minute of silence, the client says, “Was that supposed to be funny?” Arrow to the heart, aorta punctured.

In my case, the idea was for a radio campaign for a local drag strip/race track. The spots would have featured your typical high-strung, voice-modulated, 64-Funny-Car-Hyper-Type announcer, but my idea was to concentrate on his life away from the microphone, like having dinner with his family.

“Hey, dear, can you pass the (voice gets loud and modulated) GREEN BEANS?”

OK, so maybe you needed to be there. But that’s kind of the point: that no matter how hilarious you think something is, there will be someone who thinks you’re out of your mind. Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, when you think something has reached the pinnacle of unfunny, the person next to you will be signaling for oxygen.

Case in point: I used to absolutely abhor the Aflac duck. Then I went to a bar in the Midwest — everybody on the floor laughing. Then I went home to visit my family in central California — everybody on the floor laughing.

So what’s the big point here? Oh, I don’t know, maybe that humor is just so stupidly subjective. And as much as we all try to get into the heads of our respective target audiences, it’s still really a crapshoot when it comes to what’s funny. But God knows, that doesn’t mean we should stop writing it. Because who can’t help laugh at a 64-Funny-Car-Drag-Race announcer saying “GREEN BEANS”?

Besides certain clients.

And probably the entire Midwest.

My family.

And another couple hundred billion people besides that.

But that’s OK; I still laugh.

Vandy Kindred is the Creative Director at C+C, a social marketing and PR firm based in Seattle.

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