Few things create bonds as strong as laughter. Healthy relationships among family members are characterized by moments spent together where all parties were smiling. Comedy is also an instinctual coping mechanism built into our minds; as we have the tendency to try to make jokes during trying times. As they say, laughter is the best medicine.
But comedy can be used for other things too. Comedy can be used to get a point across by making the audiences relate to you. When you say something and sprinkle in some humorous anecdote that they’ve probably experienced too, you increase the chances of your viewpoint being accepted by the audience. Comedy can be a powerful tool, and can be put to use by charismatic people without you even realizing it.
Comedy In Sales
You’re probably familiar with a PR person of a corporation that you look forward to hearing from. Be it at a conference for the new phones coming out, or at the E3 conference where developers give us some insight to video games soon to be released. This person probably comes up on stage and, when the audience stops its applause, either starts with a joke or tells them how much it means to them that they’re all there. The latter is another way of effective communication; rewarding the audience with praise for their time.
Comedy has worked splendidly in conferences like these. Get the audience laughing and soon they’re hanging on to your every word. Though it may seem like natural conversation, a lot of the punchlines have been thoroughly rehearsed with only one goal in mind. Why though, do we ease up around a humorous person? Why do we, so to say, let our guard down?
Comedy And The Human Psyche
To quote Mark Twain, “that the human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter”. Mark Twain pretty much hit the nail on the head with that quote. One of the most powerful ways to control people is to control their minds, and until we can come up with mind control devices in a dystopian future, laughter is as close as it gets. There are other, more sinister ways definitely, but laughter achieves results in a way no other means can; with the audience actually liking you instead of despising and fearing you.
When a person laughs, their brain releases serotonin, which enhances their mood and helps them function better mentally. Laughter also helps reduce stress, and thus makes a person ease up and become more vulnerable. Now we don’t mean to spark a fear of comedy here, but this basic understanding of laughter and its effects will help us understand why it is so powerful.
Comedy, as mentioned above, is a coping mechanism as well. People are known to crack jokes at a funeral to try to make themselves feel better, claiming the deceased would have wanted them to be happy. Soldiers on the front lines create inside jokes to help them get through the long nights spent camping in a trench. Even therapists like to throw in a joke or two where appropriate. With the release of serotonin and the reduction in stress, people in difficult situations feel a glimmer of hope, and that hope drives them. Even holocaust survivors speak of the times they would joke around to help them pass the time in a less painful fashion.
Comedy And Societal Taboos
Talking about taboo things – drug use, abortion rights, and mass shootings to name a few – is always a difficult and slippery slope. People can take offense at the tiniest of things, and navigating around those issues is a complex game of mental dancing and dodging. Obviously, with these restrictions in play not much of value can be discussed. This is therefore, another case where comedy comes in handy.
Because of the aforementioned tendency for people to relax when laughing, taboo issues can be discussed more freely. Standup comedians are known to tackle these issues during shows when they’ve eased the audience into the flow and have gained their trust. A simple joke then could lead to multiple people pondering over its meaning for days to come.
Through comedy, the censorship of said taboos can also be poked at. The waters can be tested carefully, and the reactions of the audiences gauged. Some comedians have even made a name for themselves for being solely focused on joking about these taboos, and have gained cult followings that attend every show.
Comedy In Politics
Politics is complicated and controversial. And yet, with a good sense of comedic timing, half the nation eagerly listens to a politician who makes his promises alongside a handful of well-crafted jokes. Comedy is a powerful tool in politics, and has been used to great effect by many.
In countries with a more tumultuous political scene, politicians often resort to taking the mickey. Joking about a rival’s failings gets the crowd roaring with laughter and fills the whole place up with tons of energy. And when the crowd disperses, they are more determined than ever to vote for that politician. Again, relatability. With comedy, the common man can see that a rich and powerful politician is also just like him deep down, and is thus influenced easily.
Comedy In Corporate Relations
As mentioned above, companies are also fully aware of comedy and the effect it can have. Bars, pubs, and cafes are known to write daily jokes on a board outside in an attempt to entice potential customers into their shop. Some businesses are built around comedy, and their whole business model revolves around giving customers a feelgood feeling for buying their products.
The use of Twitter for joking around has also recently exploded in the corporate world. Whole PR teams are assembled to controlled those accounts to relate with people and make fun of rival products. The Twitter for Wendy’s is famous for continually putting competitors down with clever comebacks. Elon Musk is also known to meme extensively on Twitter to gain the support of millions of people by relating to them with the jokes they make.
There are two ways to win over a certain people. Either through extensive use of overwhelming force, or by winning their hearts. Though the former might be quicker, it is also nastier and opens up the possibility of rejections and rebellions. The latter however, gains the trust of generations to come. Comedy has helped charismatic dictators come into power, comedians push for societal reforms, and has brought together people from every race and ethnicity under one banner.