Designers and Stand Up Comedians are from different lifestyles and industries. But they are more closely related than you think.
Let me explain.
First, both are serious business.
Stand up comedy is a high-risk creative field, performed in front of audiences real-time. One bad joke could ruin the entire customer experience.
Exactly like how one bad UI or glitch has the same effect as “one bad joke.” This ultimately destroys the customer experience, potentially the product.
Second, their brains are hardwired to notice the smallest details.
There are so many things that annoy us — earphone tangles, fruit stickers, etc. Initially, we were annoyed by these little things, but as the days passed, it became easier and easier. Make no mistake, the annoyance and difficulty are still there, but the brain chose not to notice it. We get used to it. It’s called Habituation.
But designers and comedians are hardwired to notice those things. Some by birth. Some by practice.
“You cannot fix a problem that you don’t see.”
I’m a big fan of Jerry Seinfeld. He is so successful because most of his comedies diss about everyday things that we find annoying. Because of that, we were able to relate, process and laugh at them. That is the comedians’ job.
The designers’ job is not just to notice those ‘annoying things’ but to go one step further and fix them.
Finally, they work and deliver the same way.
Designers and comedians come up with hundreds of ideas to perfect the design and joke. Once done, designers test their work with the team or a small group exactly how comedians do quick sessions in small crowds or impromptu visits at comedy shops.
Using the feedback, they make improvements and refinements, share ideas, and build upon them. This is essential to create a better product or joke. For this to work, both the designers and comedians follow a practice called “documenting.” Documenting is a process to keep track of all the decisions, feedback and ideas they get during the process and ensure no information is lost.
I never watched Jerry Seinfeld’s’ shows expecting that I’d learn. I watched him for pure fun and yet I learned six valuable lessons.
1) Be honest, brutally honest.
2) Do your research
3) Actively listen
4) Switch perspective
5) Refine your work
6) Leave a better product