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Confused People Don't Laugh

Here is a great post from Todd Henry. We can't assume that others have the privilege of knowing what we know (see previous post on the Curse of Knowledge). Therefore even though it may seem repetitive or even patronizing to repeat the story and narrative, helping people understand the facts, allows people to engage with laughter.
"SherwoodSherwood Schwartz , creator of such nostalgic TV shows as "Gilligan's Island" and "The Brady Bunch " was once asked why his shows began with theme songs that set up the premise of the show. ("Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale..." or "Here's the story of a man named Brady...")

His response was, "Confused people don't laugh."

I think there's much we can learn from uncle Sherwood about context and creativity. When we're creating, our goal is communicate something - even if that something is ineffable. Without context, we're relying on the individual to fill in the vacuum. (Vacuum's always get filled, no?) This complexity can lead to confusion and misinterpretation of our intent. In the world of high art, this isn't necessarily as much of an issue because the goal is to evoke and fade into the cultural fabric, but when we're creating for a client, this can be the key determining factor of success or failure.

Do your "punchlines" have context? Are people wasting their neurons trying to understand why a millionaire, a scientist, a farm girl, a movie star and "the rest" are frolicking around on your island?"


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