No, not the dog… the kind that wears gloves and punches people in the face. My agency / production company Supercool Creative has cranked out comedy viral videos for some of the biggest brands and coolest startups around, and in the process I’ve observed the fickle relationship between videos and their fans.
I was trying to come up with what the ideal comedy video would be if it were a person, fighting its way up the YouTube charts, dodging fan comments, thumbs up, thumbs down and appropriately enough, it’s a boxer. Boxers aren’t typically associated with comedy, but what they do know is how to earn respect, keep moving, use the jab, play the rope a dope and deliver that unexpected, knockout punch.
1. COMEDY VIRAL VIDEOS HAVE TO EARN THE VIEWER’S RESPECT This all starts with the original concept, the script, the actors and finally the production. Above all, no matter how wacky , zany, over the top or understated the direction is, the brand has to own it. If the brand is insecure about what they’ve produced, the viewers will smell fear and as every boxing fan knows, fear leads to defeat.
Most viewers want to be entertained. They’d rather laugh than find fault. So give them something real, without a lot of marketing mixed in. Just make it really funny and then get behind it 100%.
2. COMEDY HAS TO KEEP MOVING Slow down and your viewers will click out. A couple of ways to do this is to keep the performance energy high and edit out anything that doesn’t either add information to the story or make people laugh. Ideally, you’ll have taken this step during the writing process, but in post you’ll have another chance.
3. BOXERS — USE THE JAB to measure their opponents and for timing. Jabs rarely result in knockouts, but they still rack up points and win fights. Jabs are the jokes along the way. They keep the viewers alert and paying attention.
4. THE ROPE A DOPE is a boxing tactic where you let the other guy burn himself out while you conserve energy and absorb as many hits as you can take. At the right moment, you explode and take him down. In comedy, these are the parts of the story where the viewer is going along for the ride. The story is progressing and information is being added. There aren’t so many jokes here but if you’ve set them up properly, they know something’s coming… they just don’t know where it’s coming from.
5. THE KNOCKOUT PUNCH In a perfect world, the other guy never sees it coming, which is what makes it so effective. Certain punches you see coming and you can brace for, but the uppercut is completely unexpected. That’s exactly what will make your branded comedy video shareable. That thrilling moment when the viewer delights in the unexpected. That’s what will make them want to share the experience with their friends, which along with buying what you’re selling, is what you want!
I realize that setting your viewers up as the opponent in a boxing match may sound counterintuitive, since we want all the fans to like your brand, but if you’ve ever seen YouTubers swarm a weak video, you’ll realize that it’s us against them. Let down your guard and you’ll get KO’d.