This blog post is part of an exchange between students at Stanford University and at American University in Cairo.
“Humor is a universal language.” We all need it to lighten our mood after a hard day of work. To be able to make a commercial humorous, you have to consider your target audience. One has to first examine the interests and the likes of the audience, then analyze if it’s going to be funny and entertaining or not. When you laugh at something funny or say something funny, it is said that we have a good sense of humor. The American audience will find the commercial we will be analyzing below funny because they will feel superior and surprised at the lady’s stupidity.
This advertisement is about a “blonde” girl or teenager who is holding this white object which is supposed to be a pregnancy test stick. She’s concentrating on it, waving it back and forth squinting to the screen waiting for the answer, flipping it in all directions then fails to know, so she calls her husband and tells him that she couldn’t tell if it’s negative or positive. He looks at it, looks at her, then looks at it again and tells her with intervals “it’s an iPod shuffle. The blonde still unable to understand, asks if that means she’s pregnant or not; he sighs and replies “Yes! It’s a boy”, the blonde then jumps with joy.
There is a common stereotype that blondes are known for their stupid actions and mindless thinking. People would laugh at this commercial because of many different aspects of humor. The first thing, they could laugh out of surprise because of the unexpected ending, that the pregnancy tester turned out to be an iPod shuffle. That came as a surprise to the viewers, not expecting her stupidity to reach the level of mixing up between and iPod and a pregnancy tester. What also surprises was that after the lady knew that it was an iPod, she was still wondering if she’s pregnant or not. The audience could also reason her stupidity by saying that she is blonde, and that blonde women make little use of intelligence.
The American audience will feel superior, by mocking the blonde lady for being stupid, being compared to the idiocy and absurdity of the girl, as getting mixed up between two totally different objects, even different in shape, and more important because the iPod shuffle, in particular, does not have a screen as the “result window” in the test stick. This means that they feel smarter and better because they have not done something that is so mindless and dumb.
The incongruence in the commercial comes where an unexpected twist is shown when comparing between both objects; moreover it makes the observer feel superior. Here, in other words, when the lady was looking at the ipod real closely and she yet didn’t realize that it’s not a pregnancy tester but thinking it’s an ipod. As a pregnancy test tube is something that adults are, mainly, the only ones carrying it; but in the ad it’s compared to an ipod, where in America, it is carried by children of all ages as well as adults. Therefore, the American audience will find this commercial funny because they will feel superior and surprised at the lady’s incongruence.
On the whole, this commercial combines different and diverse principles of why we laugh. It contains surprise, superiority, and incongruence. All these factors developed the commercial and made it entertaining and funny to the American audience. “Laughter is America’s most important export”, says Walt Disney. Not all the audiences have the same opinions about advertisement. But every culture has different perspective for humor but at the end it all sum up in some reasons that humor all over the world shares.
By: Yomna, Ragia, Arwa and Nourhan.