Disrupting Expectations

To continue on my recent theme of emotive political advertising… Faris Yakob has written a brilliant piece that  investigates one method of affecting people.

The lesson, at it’s most basic, is that one can trigger an emotional response from an audience by showing / telling them something that they are familiar with – in order to build up an expectation – and then suddenly deviating from it, which creates a punchline or ‘message’.  The above clip is a great example of such a technique in action. 

We learn such emotive techniques from a young age with ‘knock-knock’  or ‘why did the chicken cross the road’ jokes.  We subconsciously learn that by using a familiar opening remark we can create humour by suddenly changing away from the expected conclusion.

Another example: if you consider successful comedy sketch shows such as ‘Harry Endfield and Chums’ or ‘Little Britain’ (amongst others), they have a set of characters with a relatively tight set of comic traits.  These would eventually stop being funny if they simply executed them in the same way over and over again.  The way in which they are kept fresh is by constantly inventing new ways of disrupting the expected narrative of a scene.  The ultimate (if only political) example of this was Catherine Tait and Tony Blair’s sketch for Comic Relief.

The Budweiser / Obama spot did this fantastically, as did The Conservative Party’s Christmas themed ‘tax bombshell’ .  Using this creative tension of expectation and punch line can provide a devastating political blow, as well as some interesting advertising!

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