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Humor me


Have you ever met a good, unfunny copywriter? Doubtful.

This isn’t to say that good writing must be funny. Consider the huge industry of good, deadly serious pharmaceutical copywriting. And there must be someone somewhere who’s a master at grinding out SEO copy for funeral homes. Not funny whatsoever.

But all good writers I know, even ones who write serious stuff, are good humored. By comparison, I know some good doctors who aren’t particularly funny. Ditto with teachers. I can think of plenty of bright, caring people who rarely crack jokes. None of them writers.

I think this is because the same qualities that draw people to writing are also the foundations of a good sense of humor. It’s the ability to restate something in simpler language, which is just a step away from being absurdly blunt. It’s a knack for timing and surprise. It’s an ear for puns and wordplay. It’s a good memory for ideas, to build those satisfying connections that reveal an underlying truth. It’s all this plus many other elements of creativity that link writing and laughter.

All that cracking wise can be annoying. It’s also where good copy comes from.

Is it possible to excel at writing without a sense of humor? Maybe, but it’s rare. A copywriter with no sense of humor is like a physicist who’s bad at math, or a pilot who’s scared of heights.

So when you’re getting to know a writer, set them up for a few jokes and see if they hit them out of the park. The ability to create laughter is a good sign that someone is wired to create good writing.

Image © HomeStudio/Shutterstock

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Copywriting

7 comments

  1. barbara says:

    Inquiring minds want to know – is “wryting” a typo or a deliberate humor related word creation?

  2. Daryl Lang says:

    “Wryting” is a typo (now fixed) — but that should DEFINITELY be a real word. :)

  3. I don’t know if a sense of humor is needed to write good copy, but it probably is a requirement if you mean to survive in an industry often riddled with fools and con men — where the biggest fights aren’t about world hunger, but whether a headline typeface is really edgy enough to sell tampons.

    Some days you just have to laugh it off, because the alternative (taking it seriously) is a pretty straight line to a Xanax prescription.

    Still, I have to disagree on one count; I knew a couple of pretty good direct response copywriters who aren’t very funny at all. Those fuckers could kill the mood at a wake.

    • Jess says:

      I actually find that cutting my Xanax into straight lines yields some damn good copy… and stops me from giving a fuck about the fools and con-men. “You want edgy? I’ll give you edgy.”

      Yeah. No. Not really. :o)

  4. Mark says:

    Just about all good copywriters do impressions and voices as well. At least, as far as I know.

  5. Good article and very true. You certainly need a sense of humour to be a copywriter these days.

  6. Kris says:

    Great article and definitely true. Just curious–If you read a copywriters website and it puts you to sleep would you still hire him/her?

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