Comedic Models for Design Ideation: Audacity Model

The use of comedic models to help graphic designers develop design methodology is based on my opinion that different genres of advertising design and comedy parallel each other. Both advertising design conceptualization and comedy both rely on keen knowledge of venue, interpretant and stimulus.

Venue being the playing field or culture of the where the proposition is offered. Knowing the audience’s probable reaction and disposition on the subject of the proposal is important. For example, a room full of lawyers may very well be offended by lawyer jokes or ads that poke fun at lawyers.

The interpretant is the contextual representation of the proposition—it is the idea or angle taken. The stance which is taken is the argument’s main point. In this case it must be a popular, or at very least, agreed upon statement. For example, the statement “Racism is bad.” can be agreed upon. This agreement is then license for the designer, or comedian, to lambaste racism’s proponents or practitioners.

The stimulus is employed once the venue and interpretant have been established to garner the desired reaction, whether a laugh from an audience or action from viewer. If the proper care through research has identified both venue and interpretant then the stimulus model implementation can elicit the predicted reaction.

I will propose four comedic models: The Audacity ModelThe Missing LinkViolated Expectations and Surprise Disambiguation. These four models offer the designer ideation models for designing work that engenders desired reactions from the viewer.

The first of the four models and subject of this article is The Audacity model (see diagram Audacity) The Audacity model is built on the premise that the agreement of a popular opinion, whether it is stated as such or not, will be found humorous or thought provoking when stated without restraint. This is based upon the work of Thomas Hobbes in his piece Human Nature18 which proposes there is a humorous reaction at a victory of our own or an indignity suffered by someone else. Giving emphatic expression to the idea, Hobbes says “that the passion of laughter is nothing else but sudden glory arising from some sudden conception of some eminency in ourselves, by comparison with the infirmity of others, or with our own formerly” (Human Nature, ch. 9, page 46).

It is my opinion that the Audacity Model’s effectiveness lies in its ability to bring ideas to the forefront of the conversation without the constraints of socially excepted etiquette.

Whether in an attempt to bring to justice an injustice or to simply bring a levity to a ludicrous situation, the Audacity Model’s main function is to provoke the audience—to get them to react. It is also to bring to light, or justice, the offending party who have either perpetrated evil or stupidity. In any case, the model looks to galvanize a people group by popularizing the opinion thru mutual agreement via humor or provocation.

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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