Is Mixing Humor and Blogging A Bad Idea?
Okay, so I have this problem when it comes to blogging. Basically, it’s that I think I’m funny. Actually, I think I’m hilarious. Often I’ll write something or respond to an unwelcome Susan blog comment and I will immediately burst into giggles over my own creation. It actually scares Susan which, in turn, makes the entire thing that much funnier to me. But as Copyblogger’s Brian Clark remind me today, sometimes humor is dangerous and bloggers should decide if it’s absolutely necessary to their posts.
I think it’s a tough call. Am I writing my blog posts around the next punch line? Of course not, I’m trying to tell you a story, but I do like to throw a little quip in there every now and then to make sure the lot of you are paying attention. Sometimes I also do it to make sure I’m still paying attention.
One of the greatest differences between a blog and a newspaper is that blogs get to take on the personality of their author. They’re personable and it’s the being personable that helps readers develop an attachment. The best way to bond with someone is to make them laugh (or feed them). If you can keep them laughing (or eating), you’ll keep them coming back, and you may even make them fall in love with you (I make a mean meatloaf).
Of course, if you don’t make them laugh, and your attempt at humor, instead, breaks their train of thought while they are reading your entry, that’s bad. When you try to be funny and people don’t get it, they tend to get angry. Ask Brian.
"Sure enough, one reader ridiculed me for my "purple prose," while another actually chastised me. An especially self-important blogger named Nancy Friedman even wasted 963 words of her life equating me to the end of good writing as we know it. Nancy doesn’t get a link, because trolling for links via attack post is so 2005."
Heh. That’s the thing, trying to work humor into a blog entry or even onto your Web site really is a tricky thing because not everyone has the same sense of humor. And as funny as your writing is to you, not everyone will get it and you don’t want to alienate your readers or make them feel dumb. Being funny is great and can be a powerful branding device, but if it sacrifices the clarity of your message it’s not worth it.
I think the key to adding humor into blogs or even into your Web site is to understand your reader’s sense of humor. Brian mentioned that the way comics write material is that they’ll try out different variations of their jokes on different crowds to see what works and what flops. I tend to look at blogging in a similar way.
Not that we’re out there trying to come up with silly jokes or one-liners, but I think over time you get to know what your audience responds to and what they roll their eyes at. You can see what makes them comment nicely and what makes them comment that you’re an embarrassment to the English language.
If you’re trying to bring humor to your blog, my initial advice would be to play off your audience’s knowledge base. What topics or bits of humor are specific to them? If you can hit upon their specific geekiness and make them laugh, you’ll have a fan forever. You should have heard all the Windows jokes being thrown out at WordCamp. It was ridiculous.
Personally, unless I’m having a really cheesy moment, I stay away from the blatant jokes. Being sharp or displaying a touch of wit is different from reciting the riddle I just heard from the crazy guy on the street.
And yes, even though it’s hard for me to understand, I realize that not everyone thinks I’m funny. Just ask Nick Stamoulis, he definitely doesn’t think I’m funny. (Hi, Nick!) Hopefully, you don’t find my attempts at humor so distracting that you lose the message of the post, because it really is the message and the story that is important. If the jokes or the sarcasm are getting in the way, tell me. I’ll try and control myself because really the quips are nothing more than the chocolate syrup on the sundae. The sundae of optimization.