The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Nothing is as unfunny as comedy posters

with 15 comments

I always thought that the point with advertising is to make people want to buy your product, right.

Sadly enough this doesn’t seem to work when it comes to marketing of movies, particularly not in the case of comedies.

If I’m interested in watching an upcoming comedy, the best I can do is to avoid paying too much attention to the advertising. If I look too closely at the images, chances are they won’t work as intended. If anything they’ll work the opposite way, making me lose interest for the movie.

Unfunny posters
If you ask me there is nothing as unfunny as a poster or an ad for a comedy.

I know what they’re trying to do. They want to help me understand what I get and there’s nothing wrong about that. You need to build the right expectations and match the viewer with the right movie. Help the thrill seekers to find their way to the horror movies, help those yearning for love to find romance and help everyone who needs a laugh to find something fun. But oh dear, do they need to do it so clumsily?

The more you yell at me: “THIS IS FUNNY, GO AHEAD AND LAUGH NOW”, the less funny does it get. It’s the same mechanism as with laugh tracks. Regardless of how fun it might have been from the beginning – by needlessly pointing it out all the time, you effectively suck the fun out of it.

Kvarteret Skatan
Recently I went to see a new Swedish comedy, Kvarteret Skatan reser till Laholm. Foreign readers probably shouldn’t bother to look it up; it’s clearly aiming for a Swedish audience with a lot of jokes I can’t imagine would be picked up by a foreigner.

So I won’t talk long about it. All I will say is that it I passed the requirements for a funny movie according to Mark Kermode. This means that I laughed at least five times. But what meant more to me: my teenage girls laughed and smiled not five times, but constantly through the entire movie. Just this beautiful sight, the privilege to see their faces and listen to their giggles was definitely worth the admission price.

But oh boy, how I had to struggle to overcome my aversion against the advertising! The picture of the man in the yellow shirt with the insane smile was ugly, intrusive and felt like an insult to my intelligence. Besides it seemed to be everywhere! I saw it in newspapers, on huge posters outside the cinema and in a pop-up ad that covered the entire website of the multiplex theatre when I was booking the tickets.

It was only by reminding myself that a Swedish fellow blogger had assured told me it was a truly funny movie and that it starred to a couple of stand up comedians I like that I managed to get over it and watch it despite the poster.

Different advertising
Not all comedy posters are like that. There are some exceptions that I wish had more followers.  Look at the one for Life of Brian! That’s a poster with style.

And if you’re afraid people won’t get that it actually is a funny movie, you could always do it like Four Lions. Spell it out! “Funny”.

But please, please spare me those silly faces and tinned laughter and posters that only make us cringe.

Kvarteret Skatan reser till Laholm (Mikael Syrén, SWE 2012) My rating: 3/5

Written by Jessica

March 21, 2012 at 1:00 am

15 Responses

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  1. Wow, that poster for Kvarteret Skatan reser till Laholm is atrocious. Most comedy posters make me wanna gag. I don’t know why they have to be so obvious.

    Dave Enkosky

    March 21, 2012 at 2:40 am

    • Yeah, I don’t think they’ll sell any extra tickets because of it tbh.


      March 21, 2012 at 7:08 am

  2. That is an awful poster. It looks like all of those bad American comedy movie posters. Eww!

    Steven Flores

    March 21, 2012 at 3:06 am

    • We’re not safe from that manner anywhere in the world obviously.


      March 21, 2012 at 7:08 am

  3. I think the problem is that it’s very hard to translate the humor of a moving picture with sound into a static image. So they go overboard and just to get as much nonsense in as possible with ridiculous faces and costumes. Eventually it just becomes terrifying to see.


    March 21, 2012 at 4:59 am

    • I think you’re spot on with the reasons. I just don’t think it transfers very well. It’s probably a bettet idea to go for style like the other two examples and count on that people pick up that it’s a funny movie by other means.


      March 21, 2012 at 7:09 am

  4. Urgh. I’m afraid that first poster would make me run miles rather than watch said film. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this to you before, but I was put off Secretary for a very long time because of its advertising. I’d only ever seen this on the DVD covers.

    Then there was this, which turns it from a chickflick/rom-com into a scary movie. Much as I love her, Maggie Gyllenhaal looks terrifying and far from the timid creature she portrays in most of the film!

    The only vaguely honest cover I’ve seen has been this.

    But I guess that last one wouldn’t sell the film, would it? Except, perhaps, to me.


    March 21, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    • Wow, that’s a lot of variety! James Spader! Reminds me of Sex, Love and Videotape, which I really would like to revisit. Secretary seems like something I should see too. Despite the advertising.


      March 21, 2012 at 5:17 pm

      • I can’t recommend Secretary enough, it’s up there in my “I have to always have a copy of this film so I can watch it whenever” list, which isn’t that long. It’s an odd little story, and I find it a beautiful story too. I’d love to tell you more about it but I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you if you do get around to seeing it. But I’ll say this, it moves me deeply. It makes me laugh, it makes me cry, and I never go away without that deep seated feeling of satisfaction that comes from watching a film that’s ticked all the right boxes for me.

        As an aside, I’ve not seen Sex, Love and Videotape. I have a feeling that perhaps I should!


        March 22, 2012 at 12:30 am

  5. It does seem that the “stock” comedy poster is particularly horrid when compared to the “stock” action or drama poster – but also I think the other genres have a greater variety of basic forms than a bunch of charcters grinning inanely at the viewer. It is somewhat irritating, in as much as there is no reason for it. Life of Brian has a wonderfully idiosyncratic poster, attention-grabbing. I rather like the poster to Blazing Saddles – but I biased in that regard, but even Robin Hood: Men in Tights has a rather engaging poster that plays on waht the film is without descending into the usual childishness.

    Lewis Maskell

    March 22, 2012 at 12:28 am

    • I had to look up Blazing Saddles and I can only agree. Save us those grinning characters and we might want to watch the movies!


      March 22, 2012 at 7:37 am

  6. Couldn’t agree with you more! Both on the poster and the instantaneous aversion against the feeling that someone is leaning over you with a “brännbolls”bat and hissing “Laugh, damn you!”

    But as someone else in these comments said, it’s hard to translate funny into static images. On the other hand, animated movies seems to be a lot better at it than regular feature ones.

    To uplift your spirits in this regard, maybe you should check out IMPAwards “Funniets poster” category? 2000 was for example a strong year in my regard.


    March 22, 2012 at 6:07 am

    • This is a wonderful site. I didn’t even know it existed. Thanks for pointing me there! And yes, it’s a comfort to see that there still ARE some good comedy movie posters made. It’s just hard to find them among all the crap.


      March 22, 2012 at 7:40 am

  7. Sadly most comedies seem to be aimed at idiots, the posters just reflect that.


    March 24, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    • Comedies are tricky. There are very few that I like. I’ve never attributed this to me not being an idiot though. It’s rather that I’m a bit picky when it comes to humor. Not all that easily entertained. In fact I’m a bit of a bore I guess.


      March 25, 2012 at 9:29 am

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