JWT Worldwide explores what makes women laugh

MUMBAI: Women overwhelmingly rely on real-life stories told in fun, fresh ways for humor versus punch-line-driven jokes, according to a qualitative report on women and humor released from JWT Worldwide.



The report, based on a series of interviews conducted in the first half of 2005 with experts and ordinary people all over the world, explores the truths and benefits of “girlcom” - girl comedy that brings together the distinctive elements of female humor.

By exploring what makes women laugh, JWT aims to develop better and more creative approaches to the target the women's market on behalf of clients, especially using humor.



"With women, the real feel-good-all-over, give-me-more sort of laughter comes when something or someone hits their H-spot - their humor spot. Finding the H-spot means understanding how female humor is different from that of males," said Martin Weigel, the London-based global planner on Unilever’s Sunsilk at JWT.



Whereas the male approach to humor tends to involve set-piece jokes that build up to a climatic resolution, the study found that the typical female approach is conversational and spontaneous. They tell stories that may be about what has happened to them personally, what they’ve observed, or what other people have told them.

"For humor, women use the material of everyday life, which is what they have to deal with most and is what many of them seem to prefer. They're looking for something they can relate to, but that's expressed in a fresh and interesting way. The raw material may be relationships with other people, domestic life, kids, work, something they've watched on TV, or, in more intimate groups, sex," explained JWT Paris director strategic planning Diana Coulson.

Whether because of nature or nurture, women are more inclined to put themselves in the position of others and to sympathize with them, according to the report. While male humor has an underlying thought of “Thank God it didn’t happen to me,” female humor is mindful of the thought, “What if it happened to me?” Also, the study found that much of women’s humor is about incongruity - things that are comically out of place or unexpected in a given context, things that are out of whack with what’s normal.

"Brands that want to reach the H-spot have to understand that female humor is not about nonstop laughs, nor is it about who can be the funniest. It’s about a twinkle in the eye; it’s about the ability to notice the details of ordinary life with both wit and compassion; it’s about the ability to shake off the heaviness of life and take a lighthearted view. There’s a subtle but crucial difference between a funny brand and a brand with a sense of humor. The latter is more highly prized by women," said Weigel.


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