One of my favourite movies of all time is the 2002 film Bend it like Beckham. In the movie,18-year-old Jess Bhamra sets her heart on a future in professional soccer.
Jess shares with her coach that once when she was eight, she was cooking beans on toast on the grill when her pants caught fire. She and her sister were alone at home. Her sister placed her in the bath and poured cold water on her. They tried to take her pants off, but her skin peeled off too. The soccer coach replied, ‘Sorry’. Jess says, ‘I know. Put me off beans on toast for life’.
A shocking incident for a little 8-year-old. But this scene provides mastery in using humor in storytelling. Even in the darkest of stories humor can do the heavy lifting for you.
The surprise ending lightens up the intense story, giving us a moment to laugh and release the emotional tension. It’s like a built-in stress reliever.
Humor creates a bridge that gently shifts your audience from feeling scared to feeling relieved. For you as the storyteller using humour to create emotional transitions provides a way to navigate heavy topics.
Introducing humor after a dark moment helps your audience recover and establishes a sense of safety. It’s like rain falling on a parched dessert. Laughter allows the audience to move through the story, creating a shared experience.
So, here are 3 secrets to do this well:
Know Your Audience: Tailor your humor to who’s listening. It’s Comedy 101 meets market research.
Amplify, Don’t Distract: Humor should serve the story you’re telling, not pull focus like a scene-stealing actor. Think bass guitarist, not lead vocalist.
Sprinkle, Don’t Drown: It’s all about scarcity, one of Cialdini’s principles. A sprinkle of humor here and there makes it impactful.
The elegant use of appropriate humor separates story amateurs from story artists.
🤔Want to learn how to use humor in business then check out my Humor Masterclass.
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