Get 'em laughing and you'll get them to remember you.
There's a fine line between funny and weird, and sometimes there isn't a whole lot of distinction. If you go too far off the deep end and into Jaws land, people aren't terribly likely to buy what you're selling. Probably because they don't "get" your humor. People don't like being bitten by sharks either. That's painful.
We've already covered some of the weird swag out there, like the ill-conceived first-basing Jar Jar lollipop or the morbidly rock 'n roll KISS kasket. I guess death can be funny sometimes, but if you're going to go that direction, you'd better be smart about it. You can't just draw a person falling from a 100-storey building and go, "Hahaha! That's funny!" When I say it, it's pretty funny though. At least in my mind.
So, you want to be funny huh? Well, our first tip is to read this blog. I'm downright hilarious, if I must say so myself.
But seriously, don't think too hard about it. Humor often comes out of everyday ordinary situations. It's like how you secretly laugh about all of your coworkers behind their backs. Balding Bob with his purple toupee, Chris in accounting with his "crack pants", and Linda in HR with her buckteeth and neon polka-dot heels. Gosh, they're all so oblivious!
In any case, here are a few ideas and an analysis of different styles of humor to help you get slap-started.
Oftentimes, humor simply comes from observing and commenting on the absurdities in life. For example, seeing two trucks loaded with lumber on the highway passing each other, or people hitting the gym so they can load up on fast food and party all weekend, or practically every episode of Seinfeld. Mitch Hedberg was also a master of absurd humor, rest his soul.
Sometimes, funny is just a matter of pointing out the obvious or what people should and shouldn't do.
i.e. DO pin this button to an article of clothing (happy face). DO NOT stab yourself in the face in the process (sad face).
For every situation, there's an appropriate (or wildly inappropriate) obscure movie reference. Although, as I've hinted at earlier, it's not a good idea to go too obscure. Nerdy, intellectual humor is all the rage right now as evidenced by the popularity of The Big Bang Theory (or even Frasier back in the day), although that might have something to do with the gorgeous Kaley Cuoco. Maybe no one actually gets the jokes.
Sometimes it's just fun to exaggerate or use puns too. Did you hear about the guy who had his whole left side cut off? He's all right now.
i.e. We are no longer the knights who say Ni! We are now the knights who say ekki-ekki-ekki-pitang-zoom-boing!
Cute can sometimes make people laugh, the same way babies or playful kittens make us laugh. Not that we should be making fun of these adorable harmless creatures... Scratch that. Take every opportunity to make fun of people and animals that can't fight back. You may not get another chance.
When you really think about it, in this Information Age, we have a lot in common with the ancient Egyptians. We write on walls and worship cats.
i.e. I can has cheezburger?
Have you watched any Leslie Nielsen movies lately? If not, you may want to start there. Those movies are all gag-a-minute.
One of the downfalls of slapstick humor is that it usually becomes less funny after repeated exposures to it. Watching Charlie slam into a garbage can is awesome the first time, and maybe even a second time if it's done a little differently, but after a while it can become too predictable. It could also prove challenging to make a suitable merch design using slapstick humor, though certainly not impossible.
i.e. America's Funniest Home Videos (laughing at other people's misfortunes is a favorite American pastime).
Shocking or Surprising
Sometimes when people scare the bejesus outta you, all you can do is laugh. One of the pitfalls of shocking humor is that it can get crass, and it's a little suspect as to whether your customers would voluntarily wear or hold on to a piece of merch that's overly offensive. Although there is definitely a niche market for that too.
Shock humor is often the offspring of improvisation. If you were at an open mic and you ran out of jokes with five minutes left, you'd start cussing and talking about your weird sex partners too.
i.e. Most black comedians (see what we did there?).
If you can find clever ways of making fun of yourself, your company, your race or gender, it can definitely be an effective way to cause people to suffer from a mild form of hysteria. Careful not to ruin you or your company's reputation, branding or image in the process, however. That could be some costly merch.
i.e. I'm in perfect shape. Round is a shape, right?
It's funny when skaters can themselves on rails. NOT! Actually, there might be an angle to that...
Anyway, eye-rolling, exacerbated sarcasm can be a great way to trigger the funny bone. We hear that it's not generally used by normal, psychologically healthy individuals, but screw it. If the shoe fits, wear it.
i.e. Are you always this dumb, or are you making a special effort this century?
You like Austin Powers, don't you? Did you notice that most of that movie is just made up of toilet humor, especially the sequel The Spy Who Shagged Me?
Bathroom humor can sometimes go over like a clogged toilet, so buyer best beware. Fart jokes might be funny to frat punks, but they don't always go over with the ladies. If you fart and a lady comes back, she's a keeper. Remember that.
i.e. The day isn't over until you get the job done.
You think you're funny? Prove it! Leave a comment below and showcase your hilarious merch ideas!
Image by Barry Pousman