I never get tired of hearing Dick Wolfsie talk about what makes jokes funny. (Wolfsie, well-known local TV personality and author, has been studying humor for years and lectures on the subject at the University of Indianapolis.) As a professional ghost blogger, I find myself revisiting the Wolfsie humor analysis, because jokes and blogs share many of the same characteristics.
To illustrate one important insight about humor, Dick often uses the joke about a man who thinks his wife is losing her hearing. At the end of the joke we learn that he, the husband, is the deaf one. As the story unfolds, the man comes home and keeps calling out to his wife, asking â€œWhatâ€™s for dinner?â€ Each time he poses the question, he comes closer to where she is standing (heâ€™s testing the distance from which sheâ€™ll be able to hear him), yet she offers no response. Finally, when heâ€™s right there next to her and poses the question for the fifth time, she turns to him and answers, â€œFor the fifth time – weâ€™re having chicken!â€
Is it the surprise element that lends the humor? Thatâ€™s only part of the answer. If the punch line had been, â€œYouâ€™re the one thatâ€™s deaf, honey!â€ thereâ€™d still be a surprise, but no humor. In order for the joke to be funny, explains Wolfsie, the person listening to the joke or reading the joke has to figure things out! The laughter is the reward that the listener or reader gives himself for having figured out what the punch line is really saying. In other words, thereâ€™s no joke if the punch line is the proverbial tree falling in the forest.
Blogs are like that, too. You may do your part, posting new, relevant material online, offering valuable information about your field of expertise. But for the blog to generate a â€œbangâ€, it takes two. In fact, thatâ€™s precisely how business blogging works. People go online and use search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL, etc.) to find information. They need to know more about something, and that something has to do with what you have, what you know about, or what you know how to do. Since youâ€™ve provided relevant, up to date content in your blog post, that browser finds you! Now itâ€™s a blog, and youâ€™ve got yourself a potential client or customer. That individual, just like the person who gets a joke, rewards himself with the information youâ€™ve provided. She/he â€œgets itâ€ â€“ and moves on to your website for more, or posts a comment. Either way, two are now in the game. Now you can start getting bang for your blog!