“Do we have to be funny?” is a common question I hear from clients. (The answer: no.)
Weekly email archives and occasional extra words that don't have a home anywhere else on my site.
Years ago, my mom looked at me and said, “Huh — I’ve never thought of you as funny!”
Point blank. Daughter, you are not funny.
I don’t remember exactly when this mud was slung. I don’t remember the context. But I remember my adolescent indignation.
After all, I…
✅ Laughed my head off at inside jokes while my dorky friends painted their World of Warcraft figurines
✅ Went down punny, lexicological rabbit holes with my dad
✅ Watched the hell out of Billy Madison (for the record: conditioner is better, and damn, that movie has not aged well)
But I wasn’t exactly showing up to open mics to see how my tight five played with the audience.
There are a lot of ways to be funny, though. Examples? Thought you’d never ask.
Looking back, I can admit that, most likely, I objectively wasn’t funny in any of these ways when my mom told me I wasn’t funny.
But I WANTED TO BE FUNNY and am now out here cracking jokes (especially when I’m nervous or scared) like I’ve got something to prove. 🤨
Thank you, mother.
But guess what?
You don’t have to be funny. And neither does your brand.
I’m not sure where the assumption came from that you have to be funny to have a compelling voice. But “Do we have to be funny?” is a common question I hear from clients when we’re working on their brand voice.
And in fact, there are some businesses where humor wouldn’t really be appropriate.
A funeral home, for example: Gallows humor probably won’t go over well with a generally grieving audience. A touch of lightness to cut through the maudlin, perhaps yes! Attempts at hilarity…no.
Consider your audience. Consider your offering. Consider what feels natural to you. Then define it — be specific, but don’t try too hard. Refine it — don’t overthink it.
And wield it with care.
You’re doing great,
F-S: Reserved for rest