Pip Decks

That's Funny

From Episode 8 of the weekly Storyteller Tactics episodes

Each week we release a new story and two Storyteller Tactics cards from the deck, launching on Kickstarter later this year.

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What is the That's Funny tactic?

“The most exciting phrase to hear in science... is not ‘Eureka’ but ‘That’s funny...’” Isaac Asimov 1920-1992

“That’s funny...” is the sound of something new snagging in your brain. A contradiction, an anomaly, or just plain weird: something doesn’t fit what you expected. You can tell a great story about your project by finding "that's funny..." moments in your research.

How to use That's Funny

"That's funny..." is the sound of a useful insight, popping into your conscious mind.

Look back through the research stages of your project, from discussions with clients, talking to users or looking at data. Did you have any of these "that's funny..." moments?

Funny ha ha. Laughter is the emotional reward for discovering our own misconceptions. It's the sound of our brains rapidly rebuilding a conceptual model. For example:

  • "My dog's got no nose."
  • "How does he smell?"
  • "Awful."

The laugh comes because we're led in one direction by wondering "how can a dog smell stuff without a nose?". Then we're flipped in another direction by realising the double meaning of "how does he smell?" (Analysing comedy, by the way, is like dissecting a frog: you learn something but the frog dies.)

  • So, what's made you laugh about your project (a belly laugh, a contemptuous snort or just a wry smile)?
  • What about other people?
  • What does this reaction tell you about your conceptual model?

Funny peculiar. When have you found something strange or odd as you've worked through this project?

  1. Character: is someone is "acting funny", ie; doing something out of character? What does this say about your expectations about them? 
  2. Contradictions. Things don't fit. Either your data or your model is wrong. Which old assumptions should you question?
  3. Coincidences. Finding unexpected connections is like joining the dots. What new assumptions could you build by following this trail of breadcrumbs?


Read more: G.Klein, Seeing What Others Don't

🤔 Confused? Enlightened?

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- Charles & Steve.

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