The use of comedy for health purposes is an up and coming approach in the UK


 Bob Newhart's famous skit on Walter Raleigh and tobacco

Lighten up
Comedy gives the health sector an opportunity to present itself to the public in a way that isn't preachy or gloom laden. 

Comedy can be used to
* Attract people to an event
* Give out information on sensitive or boring topics
* Relax people so that they open up
* Get people talking about taboo subjects

Comedy is a team event
Comedy can be used at health fairs, school events, conferences and a range of other places. Even though comedy is often one man
or woman doing standup, health comedy is a team event. To ensure that the comedy isn't counterproductive by being offensive
or reinforcing stereotypes, needs a lot of work pre-show. Market researchers first need to work out what kind of comedy and messages are appropriate for the target group. Health workers then need to refine the health content and prepare to follow up after the performance.

Comedy has been used for health purposes in both the Midlands and the Northwest. This is explained in more detail in the report at the bottom of the page.  Comic Relief are also known for using comedy e.g. Red Nose Day. This is at times has been problematic however. (Click here for more details.) 

Fred Beard has also written a useful guide called Humor In The Advertising Business

Comedy and the future of communication
Comedy fits in well into the future of communication. In Connected Marketing a range of experts look at developments in marketing. The main focus is on word of mouth marketing. This is a general term for attempts to get people talking about your brand or message. These include buzz marketing. This is where you use a special hook such as an event to get the target group or the media talking about your message. Comedy fits in well here. Another key approach is viral marketing. This is often done online. It is to do with producing campaigns that people want to share with their friends, who then send onto their friends, who then… You get the picture. Amusing videos or even appropriate jokes can be a great way of using this approach. Of course as well as being funny, some kind of health gain also needs to be embedded in the 'virus'.

(For references click here and links click here.)

To read a much more full account of the topics covered on this page in the relevant chapter from my report on edutainment for health purposes click here:

To download the whole 180 page report on using popular culture to tackle health  inequalities click here:

To download the comedy section of a document I have written about using pop songs for health education purposes click here:

To download the PDF software to be able to view these files click here: