Comedic Models for Design Ideation: The Missing Link

The Missing Link is the second of four Comedic Models for Graphic Design ideation that in my opinion are revelatory in a designer’s development. This model omits information from the narrative for the audience to deduce. I love this model because if you can let the audience or viewer make their own connection of the disparate parts then they can connect further with your message.

A missing link is defined as the a connecting element or factor between to events, concepts or facts <found a link between smoking and cancer> [];

Akira Saito explains,

This formula is called “missing link” or “riddle” or “kangae-ochi” in the Rakugo world. In this formula, the story teller will not give the audience the whole story. Instead he leaves the audience a room for the deduction as to why the thing was concluded that way. You need some thinking. When the solution to the mystery flashed in the mind of the audience it gives them a certain sense of satisfaction and this sensation is felt as humorous or funny.

The model looks like this (Also see, The Missing Link)

(Fact+ Set Up) + Omission + Audience Realization = Humor

Example of the Missing Link principle:

Nerd wants to impress girl so He buys Harley motorcycle and is shown sitting and revving motor. Cut to him in hospital in body cast with coy smile while impressed girl give him sponge bath. Mission accomplished.

Thanks for reading.

Michael Berger, MFA is program director for the award-winning Graphic Design + Visual Experience program at CBU, design director at Harvest with Greg Laurie, and owner of mbdx creative.

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