thumb image

A tax man and a politician are both drowning... Using Humour to Convert

A tax man and a politician are both drowning.

You can only save one of them.

Do you go to lunch or read the paper?

Being funny, making friends, licking your elbow… all hard to do. But the good news, particularly if your funny bone popped out at birth, is that there are some key principles – a formula if you will – that you can follow to “be funny”.

They are all based on 4 principles:

* Getting the attention of the audience
* Building tension with them
* Misdirecting them
* Hitting them with surprise

So let’s take each one, somewhat unsurprisingly, in the order I’ve just listed.

Getting their Attention

Without their attention you cannot make be laugh.

Seems a bit obvious, but there you have it. Attention must be sought, it won’t just happen.

So first principle is get their attention.

Stand up comedians will constantly be taking their audience’ attention. They won’t speak when they can’t be heard. And you must do the same.

In a big old world of people trying to grab people’s attention, you must grab it.

And when you’ve got it – keep it.

So a funny headline with a dry page of copy just won’t cut it. You need to keep the rhythum.

Building Tension

Where tension exists – humour exists. Comedians are probably the last people in the world who can openly talk about racism, sexism and so on.

And people will (mostly) still laugh, when in a normal conversion they wouldn’t dream of it!

Being bold and skirting on topics that raise tension will allow you grab attention and keep it.

And then having raised the tension, you can break it.

Jon Buchan (a comic writer who inspires me) gives a great example of tension building and then breaking it.

“I’ll be honest, you’ve never heard of me. I got your email off a list.”

This gets attention and raises tension, which you then need to break.

“But at least you’re list worthy!”

It breaks tension and addresses the elephant in the room.

Go for issues and topics that perhaps are avoided. These are all targets for tension – call them out.

Misdirecting them

A classic set of joke formulas can be covered as misdirection. You lead the reader down a path, and BAM!

You shoot off at a tangent, to where they weren’t expecting.

The joke at the start of this topic is a great example of this.

Surprising them

You’ve got their attention. You’ve built tension. You’ve misdirected them. Now surprise them.

Surprise must be, well (and this may shock you), a surprise! “Tell me a joke” is a dreadful thing to ask someone, because you know that a punchline is coming.

You need setup, commentary and then… surprise.

Formulas for Humour

So with these principles in mind, are there techniques to writing humour? Well, indeed there are!

As you’d hope in a topic about writing humour. It would be one short, sharp topic otherwise.

And to get your new career as a comic writer started, we’re going to focus on some key techniques that comic writers employ to raise a laugh. Many even succeed.

Comic Triples

Trying to write humour can cause sleepless nights and hours of frustration.

Membership of Alcoholics Anonymous is recommended.

The comic triples are based on three steps:

1. Setup (the preparation)
2. Anticipation (the triple, for example)
3. Punchline (the payoff)

For the triple, step 2, they can be constructed in several ways.

But why triples?

Well, for whatever reason, humans like three things. Three little pigs. Three blind mice. Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Photographers use the rule of thirds. As do artists.

Go figure…

The Rule of Three (or Triple Structure)

* Introduce the premise. And then…
* Normal
* Normal
* Surprise

Two fundementally basic statements followed by a third, disrupting statement that comes as a surprise.

An alternative is two ridiculous statements followed by a sensible one – either way the third is a surprise.

A classic example is from The Dick Van Dyke Show.

“Can I get you anything?

Cup of coffee? Doughnut? Toupee?”

Or something closer to home perhaps:

“I had everything a copywriter could want.

Laptop. Time. And an impressive alcohol problem.”

You can see how you can take any topic and create a triple from it with the introduction, normal/normal/surprise format.

If you are unsure what to create a joke from, use the industry or niche of your audience. People are very likely to find these funny.

Or if even that is not possible, joke at yourself.

Avoid making jokes of your actual audience, just their industry. And then the boundaries are limitless.

Let’s take the resturant industry. It’s not award winning, but would this raise a smile on a menu or from a waiter?

“Our fresh fish today is halibut, salmon, or canned tuna”.

Again, we have our introduction that sets up the scene (Our fresh fish today is) followed by normal (halibut), normal (salmon) and then surprise (canned tuna).

An alternative would be to use a silly fish, but do you find the above, or the following funnier?

“Our fresh fish today is halibut, salmon and goldfish”.

Canned tuna is more extreme, and hence more of an obvious surprise. Goldfish, whilst funny, needs the recipient of the joke to work whether the line is serious or not. Canned tuna, is enough of a disruptor to do the job.


Take a situation and turn it on it’s head. This plays big on the surprise element, and one of my favourites.

“I woke up in the hotel and the housekeeper was banging on the door, just banging…finally, I had to get up and let her out!”

“I went to my girlfriend’s house to beg her to take me back. I was banging on the door, yelling, “Stacy! Stacy!—which is weird, ‘cuz her name is Emily.”

And from the classic Airplane! movie (which, if you want to learn about Reverses, is a masterclass):

“Surely you can’t be serious.
I am serious… and don’t call me Shirley.”


Perhaps the most widely used comic technique in the book. The concept is taking two topics that are not linked, and bringing them together.

An English bishop received the following note from the vicar of a village in his diocese: ‘‘Milord, I regret to inform you of my wife’s death. Can you possibly send me a substitute for the weekend?’’

The technique is also often used to humanise something that is not human.

“I don’t think horses know they are racing. I think the horses are standing there thinking. “I know there’s a bag of oats at the end of this trail and I want to get there first.”

Simple Truth

Sometimes there is nothing as funny as saying it how it is!

“I remember the first time I had sex. It’s right there on my credit card statement.”

And from the legendary Steven Wright:

“This morning, my girlfriend asked me if I slept good. I said, “No, I made a few mistakes.”

“My father was a bastard! He wasn’t a bad guy, he just didn’t know his Dad.”

Paired Phrases

By using the rhythms of antonyms, homonyms and synonyms, paired phrases introduce humour, often in conjunction with paradoxes.

“The L.A. Times recently said that you could buy
happiness for seventy-five thousand a year. I’ll take mildly pissed off for thirty-five.”

“Thank God I’m an atheist.”

And a favourite given to us by Microsoft…

“Click the ‘Start’ button to shut down the computer.”


Stand-up comedians thrive on pointing out to us ridiculous truths from the real world.

It works because we recognise it, as soon as it’s pointed out.

“Instructions for plugging in a USB stick: Attempt to plug in. Turn over, attempt to plug in again… turn over, attempt to plug in again.”

“Do you ever blow your nose and it is so successful, you just want to do it again?”

“…and why do we always look at the handkerchief after we blow our nose?”

“You ever see that commercial for Cialis? It says, “If you experience an erection that lasts more than four hours, call your doctor. Hey, if I experience an erection that lasts more than four hours, I’m calling everyone!”

And take it from the top comedians, behavioural observation can be hysterical.

“You know you’re in for a long night when your girlfriend says to you, “Can I tell you something and you promise not to get mad?”


With the right setup, these are perfect for surprises.

“I just broke up with my girlfriend. We had to, we were just not compatible. You see, I am a Capricorn and she was a… bitch.”

“I went to the doctors the other day and I said, ‘Have you got anything for wind?’ So he gave me a kite.”

“I’m in great mood tonight because the other day I entered a competition and I won a years supply of Marmite… one jar.”

With great power, comes…

Okay, you have the formulas. You’ve written what is, in your view, the most hysterical piece of copy ever created. And then nothing.

So more than ever, I urge you to test your humour with a sample of your target audience. And be sure it’s your target audience, not your friends and family. Not a warm audience in other words.

Be sure to get the correct answers to the following:

1) Does your target audience find it funny? [Yes]
2) Will your target audience be insulted? [No]
3) If not found funny, is your brand damaged? [No]

And please, please try it out. If you get humour right your conversion rate will rocket. Whether web pages, landing pages, cold emails or presentations.

It will truly make you stand out. Most people are scared of humour.

With a fair wind, a bucket of courage and some stolen jokes… you will be remembered.

Which is what it’s all about!

Loads more Blog articles!

Customise your Quiz Results

What's New, by Simon Goodchild

Not all Quizzes are Pass/Fail - customise how the Quiz Results are displayed.

Posted November 19, 2022

New Feature! LIVE SYNC Your Library Content!

What's New, by Simon Goodchild

Reflect changes to your Library content immediately on your pages!

Posted January 3, 2022

7 Top Tips for Buttons

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

It's rare you don't have a button on your page, maybe you have more than one. So how about some top tips for buttons? What should they look like? Where should you put them? How many should you have? What should be on them?

Posted July 8, 2020

Have you got a custom domain name?

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

If you are using a custom domain name with then you must read this, as you have a deadline of 27th June.

Posted June 13, 2020

Building Your Brand

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

If someone was talking about you, in a room that you are not in, what would you want them to say about you? This is your brand. Let's discuss how you can stand out from the crowd.

Posted March 16, 2020

Ramping Up and Testing your Message

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

The temptation, with your incredible offering, your ultimate product or service, is to dive into something like Facebook Ads, and spend, spend, spend. But don't! Instead craft, test and scale your message. Your promise. Your offer.

Posted March 9, 2020

The Three Types of Traffic to Worry About

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

I want to touch on the 3 types of traffic that you will get to your website or online sales funnel. So what types of traffic exist, and how can you bring that traffic to your online funnel? Paid traffic, referred traffic and Earned (free) traffic.

Posted February 29, 2020

NEW! The editor has been upgraded (and more!)

What's New, by Simon Goodchild

NEW! Upgrade to the page editor! (and a new page element) Three new things to tell you about: 1) Quickly insert new page elements above or below. 2) New organised way to choose new page elements. 3) New page element! The Audio Player.

Posted February 27, 2020

How to choose a Growth Strategy (The Ansoff Matrix)

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

The Ansoff Matrix. When I did my MBA, we covered the Ansoff Matrix, and it is a key element in understanding how you will grow your company or your business. And the great thing about it, is that it is a simple concept that can be applied easily. To model different growth strategies, Igot Ansoff created a simple matrix - as shown with this article - that allows a company or business to focus its strategy to acquire new customers.

Posted February 26, 2020

The 5 levels of market sophistication

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

By knowing where your company stands, it will allow you to construct a marketing angle to efficiently and effectively capture the market you want. Here then, are the 5 Stages of Market Sophistication discussed by Eugene Schwartz.

Posted February 25, 2020

Your Blueprint for success: Your Sales Value Ladder

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

Heads up! This is probably the foundation of your business - and I’m not exaggerating.

Posted February 21, 2020

How to deal with the 4 types of customer

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

You will, I am sure, already have dealt with all “types” of people - your customers, or potential customers. To be able to create a strategy and system for selling, we need to be able to plan accordingly. It is not feasible to plan for every single customer, so to help us, we can categorise them and create a strategy for each.

Posted February 20, 2020

Three Ways To Make People Buy Your Stuff

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

Far more important than understanding your product (assume I mean product or service), is understanding your prospects, your potential customer. And even more important than that, is understanding why people buy.

Posted February 19, 2020

The new Highlight Tool and Button Rollover Color Change Feature

What's New, by Simon Goodchild

Fancy highlighting some text in bright yellow, pink, green, blue or silver? Like those highlighter pens? And how about buttons that change color when you move your mouse over them? This is how.

Posted December 6, 2019


Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

Get FREE access to the T4S Bootcamp and physical copies of the "Traffic for Sales" books!

Posted November 30, 2019

Course Builders - you need this new Login element!

What's New, by Simon Goodchild

Give visitors content for free, as a teaser, to get them hooked, and then when they hit a locked page you present a sales page for them to pay to carry on.

Posted November 12, 2019

How to cut, copy and paste T4S page elements

What's New, by Simon Goodchild

You can now cut, copy and paste! One or more elements at a time, cut or copy and paste to same page, or different page in your funnel ... even to another page in another funnel!

Posted November 7, 2019

Updated Tutorial: How to set up payments (single and recurring)

Tips and Tricks, by Simon Goodchild

Refreshed for your enjoyment! Need to know, or need to refresh, how to set up payments for single or recurring? And what the options mean? Then put the kettle on, and take a look.

Posted October 24, 2019

T4S Custom Domain Names Just Got Easier!

Tips and Tricks, by Simon Goodchild

And, I've updated the tutorial page with a handy video, that takes you through one step at a time. It's as simple as 1, 2, 3.

Posted October 1, 2019

How to Add Progress Bars To Your T4S Funnel and Course Pages

What's New, by Simon Goodchild

A brand new page element for you - progress bars! Those nice graphical representations of progress.

Posted September 23, 2019

And another thing... Element Shadows

Tips and Tricks, by Simon Goodchild

What to add a shadow to an image, or, well, any element? Yep - you can.

Posted September 23, 2019

How to offer a Quantity option when Selling

What's New, by Simon Goodchild

If you're selling anything from a book to consultancy hours, you can now let people buy more than just one.

Posted September 17, 2019

Get Your Free Money Here!

Tips and Tricks, by Simon Goodchild

All you have to do, is log in daily to T4S and watch your T4S Marketplace discount grow! Instantly, anything on the T4S Marketplace will have a discount applied. Right up to 99% off!!!

Posted September 16, 2019

Add a Product Checkout Image!

What's New, by Simon Goodchild

With the new Stripe checkout, comes the first extra feature - product image on checkout.

Posted September 13, 2019

Update on New Version of Stripe

What's New, by Simon Goodchild

T4S.Site is now using the new version of Stripe. Right now, it's operating "as it was" (other than their new checkout page), but there are some potential benefits that we can now add. In addition to the added security for your users.

Posted September 12, 2019

Let users save notes with the Notepad Element

What's New, by Simon Goodchild

On a per page, per user basis, users can make notes and save them for when they return. Perfect for courses and membership areas. Use on individual pages, certain pages or perhaps one page for notes.

Posted August 4, 2019

Add a search to your funnel

What's New, by Simon Goodchild

A new page element - Search - adds a search to your funnel. Perfect for courses and membership areas.

Posted July 30, 2019

Update on change to Stripe

What's New, by Simon Goodchild

You may remember that I mentioned Stripe is changing. Indeed, you may be getting emails yourself if you are using Stripe. So here's an update on research and testing so far...

Posted July 9, 2019

New Preview shortcode and Duplicate Page feature

What's New, by Simon Goodchild

You can now use CTRL + ALT + V (or CTRL + OPTION + V if on a Mac) to quickly preview a page, along with the other keyboard shortcuts. Also, duplicate page drops the new page below the old one. Much better.

Posted June 27, 2019

Picking a color from an image

Tips and Tricks, by Simon Goodchild

Get your colors and brand all spot on with this brilliant way to pick a color from any image on your page!

Posted June 21, 2019

Getting your Stripe Live/Test Keys

Tips and Tricks, by Simon Goodchild

If using Stripe, you'll need your test and live, publishable and secret keys. This is how to find them.

Posted June 21, 2019

Set Up Page Redirects

What's New, by Simon Goodchild

Maybe you want to change a page URL but already shared it? Or a temporary promotion? Send one page to another!

Posted June 21, 2019

Adjust your line height

What's New, by Simon Goodchild

Set the space between lines of text to what you want. Also referred to as line height or leading, you can now spread out your text!

Posted June 21, 2019

You can now add Forums as a Page Element

What's New, by Simon Goodchild

Forums are brilliant for engagement, return traffic, support, community spirit - the list is endless with this new Forums page element!

Posted June 21, 2019

Circus acrobats saved this accountant - and this is how they can save you!

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

How an accountant used the power of focus in his marketing to succeed by NOT selling to the world.

Posted May 22, 2019

New Feature! Add quizzes to your courses and funnels with!

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

Create unlimited quizzes, with questions and answers. Include results for your members and generate certificates their name for downloading.

Posted March 19, 2019

It's the March 2019 T4S new feature update!

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

Latest changes for March 2019. New features that you should know and might want to know.

Posted March 8, 2019

New T4S features with the February 2019 update

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

Gosh! There were rather a lot of new shiny things to play with, that came with the February 2019 update.

Posted February 19, 2019

How You Should Structure Your Webinar For Maximum Success

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

Don't be afraid of webinar funnels - they are used because they are incredibly successful. Find out how to create your awesome webinar!

Posted December 9, 2018

Isn't it time YOU knew how to create HIGH CONVERSION and HIGH EARNING sales funnels?

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

I've been told it's worth everything from £99 to £699 so I'm going to do a special launch price at the lowest! JUST £99! That's about £1.62 per video. The value, know-how and actions you'll get from each must be worth £1.62?!

Posted October 18, 2018

T4S.Site - getting started right from your first login

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

A fast track guide to your first experience with T4S Traffic for Sales after logging in for the first time.

Posted October 8, 2018

Five ways to know who your perfect customer is

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

It’s critical when selling, to know who your perfect customer is. Who you should be selling to, and how to find them – and then how to make it clear that they should buy from you (and why). The worst answer you can give to “Who do you sell to?” is “Anyone”.

Posted October 7, 2018

How To Become A Top Profitable Affiliate Marketer

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

It's about time your thought about how those affiliate marketers are successfully making a passive income that grows every month!

Posted October 3, 2018

What are click funnels?

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

So what are funnels? Click funnels. Sales funnels. Online funnels. Marketing funnels. Lots of names, but funnels is what it's all about. So "Funnels Basics" - what are these funnels all about?

Posted September 26, 2018

Exclusive course now available for you

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

"When I told them about my online course they laughed. But when I started to make money!" Let's face it... You know something that others would pay you for. Learn how, with a full course template with payments, pages - the lot!

Posted September 5, 2018

A tax man and a politician are both drowning... Using Humour to Convert

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

Being funny, making friends, licking your elbow... all hard to do. But the good news, particularly if your funny bone popped out at birth, is that there are some key principles - a formula if you will - that you can follow to “be funny”.

Posted August 26, 2018

106 of the most Tested and Successful Headlines ever written by the great John Caples - for your inspiration

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” - David Ogilvy

Posted August 24, 2018

Facts Tell, Stories Sell

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

Have you heard the one about the copywriter who didn't use stories? No, I didn't think so.... This is why!

Posted August 22, 2018

How Does Growth Hacking ACTUALLY help you?

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

Before we start on this topic, let me clear up one thing. The word “hacking” nowadays brings up pictures of annoying teenagers illegally breaking into computers, using some magic technique (which, by the way, are 99% made up or unrealistic!). But this is NOT what it means!

Posted August 21, 2018

The Secrets to Going Viral - All You Need To Know

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

Getting a post to go viral is tough. It’s worth saying that before getting into the theory of making content go viral. So if you want a post to go viral, before anything else you need to know what triggers “virality” in the first place.

Posted July 28, 2018

Using Facebook as a Platform for Success

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

2.2 BILLION PEOPLE!!!! Surely, your target audience is likely to be in there somewhere? Follow these steps to make Facebook your success story.

Posted July 27, 2018

Building a brand to stand out from the competition

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

Unless you are very fortunate, what you offer is not unique. Your potential customers have choices. So use your brand to stand out!

Posted July 20, 2018

The importance of ramping up and testing your message first

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

The temptation, with your incredible offering, your ultimate product or service, is to dive into something like Facebook Ads and spend, spend, spend. This is how you should do it.

Posted July 9, 2018

Why you need to understand the 5 Stages of Customer Awareness in order to sell

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

A key component of selling is understanding how aware your target audience is of your offer, so you can tailor your message accordingly. These are the 5 stages of awareness.

Posted July 6, 2018

The Power Of Your Sales Value Ladder

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

When selling, you will convert less if you go straight for your core offer. This is the biggest mistake you can make. This is how to do it right.

Posted July 3, 2018

Get "Sales Funnel Secrets" for free (plus bonus consultancy)

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

Get a free copy of my new book "Sales Funnel Secrets" before it is released!

Posted June 20, 2018

If we all hate popups, why do we have to consider them?

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

You hate them, I hate them, so why do they exist? Because this is how they have been proven to work (sorry).

Posted June 12, 2018

Unleash the power of lead magnets

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

Free eBooks are brilliant lead magnets. This is how they get you your ultimate sale!

Posted June 5, 2018

This is why asking for payment twice is a conversion killer

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

What do I mean? Well, when you are selling, you typically ask for payment for something small, of tremendous value. A no brainer. A lead magnet. A $7 something. And then...

Posted May 17, 2018

Why Social Proof Is So Bloody Important

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

Support your copy or call to action, counter objections, use social proof strategically, support the argument you’re making and the story you’re telling and humanise your marketing with social proof.

Posted May 16, 2018

Does Google index iframed content? Yes! But there is something you need to do.

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

The good news is that Google does index embedded content with iframes. But what are they? And why should you care? Plus one thing you must do, to do it right.

Posted May 14, 2018

Why visitor heatmaps can be dangerous

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

They are a core tool for conversion experts, so why should they be used with caution? Well first, we need to understand what sort of heat maps exist, and which are good (and bad) to rely on.

Posted May 13, 2018

Sketching out the long sales letter [web] page. If in doubt, this is the layout to use.

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

Covers all the expected "sections" of a long sales letter page. Use and adapt to your own niche. Remember, it's about the visitor, not you (apart from the credentials section).

Posted May 12, 2018

This is why countdown timers improve conversion rates

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

I thought I'd explain how urgency with countdown timers increases conversions rates, based on proven market testing. With some amazing results.

Posted May 12, 2018

Can you really make money as an affiliate marketeer?

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

It may sound too good to be true, but through affiliate marketing you can make money while you sleep. So let's consider it in more detail.

Posted May 10, 2018

Find out what actually makes a complete sales funnel

Blog Articles, by Simon Goodchild

You don't just create a set of web pages and call it a day, thinking job done. Your entire sales funnel is a series of steps, using your web pages (your online sales funnel if you like) as the foundation. And this is why.

Posted May 9, 2018

T4S - Traffic for Sales - Create sales funnels and online courses. Quickly, easily, cheaply. Copyright © Web Technology Solutions Ltd 2018-2020