Do you have a weird sense of humor?

It’s obvious that comedy is a great engine for driving viral content, but not all content is equally funny. And not all creators have the right sense of humor to reach a wide audience. Many of us believe you’re either funny or you’re not, but that’s not exactly true. It is possible to develop a sense of humor in the same way that you develop any skill–through practice.

Well, the first thing to remember is that, while comedy can drive virality, it’s not the right fit for every context. Also, there are different types of funny: whimsy, slapstick physical comedy, absurd pranks, satire and sarcasm, dry humor, broad humor, and just good-natured, sincere fun. Chances are you can tap into one of those angles.

Bottom line–if a performance driver is a skill you don’t naturally have, either learn it or don’t bother.

Harsh advice, but perhaps it helps to look at this from another perspective. One of my creative partners worked for a TV network that mainly developed programming content for millennial moms with kids under five. He was none of those things. How was he supposed to create content for this audience that was the polar opposite of everything he was interested in?

He quickly learned that his outsider status benefitted him because he could see what others could not. He could leverage the interests of millennial moms with kids under five with a fresh perspective by learning his audience–what they cared about, what they liked to watch, and even what they were interested in outside of the parenting world.

One important lesson he learned from this experience was that everyone has what he calls a “head voice,” the ideas and expressions that regular people think but don’t say out loud. And one expression his target audience thought but didn’t say was “I don’t have time for that” when it came to elaborate crafts or cooking ideas. Busy parents are interested in quick and easy tips for healthy dinner or fun crafts, but not time-consuming and pointless projects.

The key principle here is that sometimes we have to develop an instinct or voice in areas that don’t come naturally. Even if you’re not a stand-up comedian, you can learn how to inject humor into your content. In some ways, doing the hard work of learning your audience and developing a skill set is much more valuable than the content ideas that come easily to you.

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