Keep the duck!

Stand-up tricks for powerful language

Comics have known for years that certain sounds are more powerful - especially at the end of a word or phrase:

“Words with a K in them are funny.” - Neil Simon
“An egg is funny, an orange is not.” - Fred Allen
“Hard consonants… make words sound funnier.” - Greg Dean

Messrs Simon, Allen and Dean are talking about sounds like K, hard C and Qu, as well as T and - to a lesset extent - G, P and B. Add to those the fricatives F, S, Sh, Z and X, and your crunchy crispy toolbox is complete.

As a comedian myself, I know this is wisdom. When I’m chosing a punchline, “The bird is yours!” is only half as funny as “Keep the duck!” (And it’s true outside comedy too - if you think of all the terrible swearwords your mother hates, I bet you can built most of them using a few vowels and the sounds above…)

Consider this in choosing words for your advertising tagline or customer contact script. For a snappy call to action, these hard consonant and fricative sounds are best.

Turn “Anybody for some juice?” into “Who’s next to be refreshed?”.
"This way, please!" becomes "Step right up!".
And "Have a try" becomes "Just do it!"
.

5 comments:

Pathfinder said...

Adam,

I think I'm the only person that knows the significance of "Keep the duck", which is a fabulous joke when you tell it!

Pax,

Jake

Adam said...

Thanks Jake. That's a great compliment, especially coming from you.

Actually the duck joke (told to me by my pal Damian) might be known by a couple more readers. I have used it a few times in my stand-up work.

I should perhaps tell the rest of you that Jake is the funniest man I know. Really. He doesn't work in comedy - basically for reasons of kindness. If he did, the rest of us would be out of work.

Pathfinder said...

Adam,

You flatter me shamelessly. Trust me, I don't work in comedy simply due to the lack of good workplaces and my desire to not become homeless and divorced in a year!

Pax,

Jake

Vladimir Dzhuvinov said...

How about combining hard consonants with a Scottish accent? ;-)

Adam said...

Ah Vladimir, you know the joke too then?

A
:)

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