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How Do You Make Voice Over Funny

So how do you make voice over funny?  Or your commercial entertaining?  First, a story:  A while back, I narrated a product demonstration video for a company which specializes in lubricants for use in modern commercial cargo rail and transit line applications.


The script was as dry and technical as any copy I’ve ever recorded – and one might argue that’s not a bad thing, that perhaps dry and technical was the exact context the video needed.

But, I imagine a room full of railroad tycoons sipping on copious amounts of brandy and smoking Cuban cigars while watching this video.  About thirty seconds in, they start to nod off.  Red-hot cigars fall from sleeping hands into the piles of money each tycoon brought with him to the meeting (look it up).  The room is filled with choking smoke in a matter of minutes.  The tycoons, drunk from expensive brandy and blinded by the now thick, acrid, money-smoke, stumble about.  Top-hats and monocles fall into the flames which now have engulfed the imported, red, silken curtains which line the tinder-dry, newspaper-filled walls of the room.  In mere minutes, the screams of three-dozen railroad men begin to fade as the flames consume the entire building…

Yes, I have an active imagination – but I also appreciate an effort to be entertaining.  Like the marketing for “Dollar Shave Club” as an example.  Their CEO, Michael Dubin, studied improv with the Upright Citizen’s Brigade.  He wrote his own scripts, spent $4,500 on  production, and created this promotional video:

13 million views and counting.  It’s hard not to like Michael and what his company does – and those views?  That’s worth a lot of business.  (And his video tied in nicely with my Vanderbilt reference, didn’t it?)

So, how do you make voice over funny?  Or your script/narration/voice over/video/web promo/etc…  entertaining?  Well, you do three things to start with:

1.  Work with people who have a background in humor and a track-record for understanding what makes something funny.  Not just funny to you, but funny to your business’ target demo and the target for the project.  It needs to be tailored to the audience.  If you need something to be more instructional than humorous, great – but it’s nice to have the option to provide levity.

2.  Let weird ideas happen.  The creatives want to produce a promo for your vacuum-sealer which includes a song about vacuum-sealing food?  Sung my a mariachi band?  Hey, as long as there’s an element of normalcy to your project (and I really think that’s essential to anything which takes a hard left-turn), it’s OK to have fun with your brand.  How weird you go is up to you.

3.  This one is especially for radio – Use professionals to get professional results, even if you have a limited budget.  It’s often the last thing you might think of when you’re signing that radio advertising contract, but the writing and the voice of your piece are the two most essential elements to making an impact and gaining awareness/customers.  Choose wisely.

So, there you have it.  RIP Mr. Vanderbilt, and good luck to you, dear reader.