I was listening to one of my favourite comedy podcasts the other day, veteran comedians were discussing lesser comedians that made jokes that were too obvious, referring to poor jokes as “route one”, they meant the obvious gag, the first to mind. The use of this term took me aback as it’s one that we’ve used for years in a different, but parallel, context and I was surprised to hear in in common parlance.
They were talking about the structure of effective humour, extolling the virtue of making the audience do some work, put the pieces together themselves, “leave a gap that people have to jump”. This enhances the comedy and takes a stronger hold on the memory.
There is plenty of neuroscience to back this up, pathways are laid down in the brain with a bias toward things that burned some mental calories going in, also creating a greater sense of ownership of the thought. Think of the potency of movies like Sixth Sense and The Usual Suspects and the power of the moment when the twist is revealed and your brain has to reevaluate the entire plot.
In his book Story Brand, Donald Miller describes how we should create a story gap which creates tension and ensures engagement (a definite book recommendation).
Our use of the term 'route one' is a bit simpler, although every job we do it very different, there is a general pattern to our presented brand solutions. It starts with our 'route one', this is the solution that you were expecting, exactly what you asked for… To my knowledge nobody has ever picked this route! Its sole purpose is to put you at ease. Then we present the 'meat in the sandwich', strategic, thought provoking and hopefully challenging solutions. We usually end with a route that is engineered to scare you, stretch your perceptions of what could be possible. Often this route would be too much of a leap for the consumer too, but its inclusion in the presentation often encourages our clients to be more bold.