You want to get viewers to watch your company’s videos? Make them laugh. Want them to come back for more? Make them laugh.
There are a few things that always work in online video, and humor is one of them. Put up work that’s genuinely funny and people will notice. If you can pull it off, it’s a great way to build a relationship with your audience.
To learn the secrets of being funny in online video, we went to someone with experience. Joe Yakacki is one of the founders of Funny for Money, a new site that rewards people who can come up with devastating punchlines to the week’s news. Each week a number of news stories are listed on the site. Aspiring comics around the country create and submit videos with short jokes based on the topics. The audience votes for their favorites, and then Yakacki and his partner Ari Ecker choose the winners. The site gives away up to $4,000 per week for the best jokers and for random voters.
The site just launched in June, but it’s already finding a solid following. Yakacki is hoping to turn the contest into a TV show. He thinks it would be the perfect lead-in to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
As someone who’s seen a lot of humor videos in what he calls “Joke Idol,” Yakacki is perfect for explaining what works and what doesn’t in humorous online videos.
1. Self-deprecation always works, Yakacki says. An audience likes a person who doesn’t take him or herself too seriously. If you can’t make fun of yourself, make fun of your cohost. That’s almost as good.
2. Practice your timing and roll with the setbacks. The online audience is smarter than a TV audience, says Yakacki. They can be challenging, as they’re waiting for you to screw up. Don’t take their criticism too seriously.
3. Trust your editor — don’t be your editor. If you’re worrying about editing yourself during a taping, you’ll be inhibited and you won’t perform as well as you might have otherwise. Trust that your editor will shape the material up and make it look great. An offhand line that you might have thought was garbage could turn into gold during the magic of editing.
4. Don’t be long-winded. Funny for Money wisely caps viewer-submitted video at 15 seconds. As Shakespeare wrote, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”
5. Don’t neglect production. A great idea can be ruined by a poor execution. Frame yourself correctly in the camera; pay attention to lighting and focus to make sure your video looks as good as possible. And make sure you have strong, clear audio. If the audience is going to laugh at you, they first need to hear you.