What a laugh says about your ideas

My favorite reaction to anything creative I do is a laugh.

If what I show someone—whether it’s something I’ve written or painted or programmed—can evoke a laugh, I know I’m onto something worthwhile.

It’s easy to look at something creative and respond with a less than moved reaction. Having someone say “that’s clever” or getting a sideways glance with a “huh” remark are good responses, but what really gets me excited about my work is when someone audibly laughs, even just a little, at what I’m sharing with them.

A laugh is a pretty powerful response. In good humor a laugh is the response to a sudden click in the joke. We don’t laugh very hard at the jokes we already know the ending to. What makes us laugh is the reveal of how the joke comes together. Really excellent jokes are the ones we cannot predict the ending too. In their big reveal they help us identify what we somehow overlooked before, causing us to react with a hearty laugh.

In creative work the same lesson applies: when you help someone suddenly make a connection they couldn’t see before, they’re likely to let out an audible reaction. Maybe not a full-blown laughing fit, but at least an “aha!”

If you want to know whether or not you’re onto something really creative, try to get someone to laugh about it. Then you’ll at least know the idea is novel.