Why Funny Tees Work: The Top 3 Comedy Theories Explained

In case you haven’t noticed, funny tees have been extremely popular as of late, with no indication of slowing down. In fact, on Etsy alone, there are over 93,000 results for ‘funny graphic tee’. If you haven’t considered adding the style to your custom apparel offerings, now is definitely the time.

Now, we know what you’re thinkingwhat exactly makes something funny? Is there a formula you can easily recreate for your own tees?

As it turns out, scientists and philosophers have been pondering several theories behind humor for hundreds of years. While it may not be an exact formula, understanding why people think situations are funny can inspire ideas for your creative new apparel.

To help provide some direction, we narrowed it down to the top three comedy theories. Let’s take a look!

The Top Three Comedy Theories Explained

1. Benign Violation Theory

[Image source: BoldGalCo on Etsy]

Linguist Thomas Veatch published the basis of benign violation theory in the late ‘90s, stating that humor happens when something “seems wrong or unsettling but is actually benign [not harmful].” However, Joel Warner and Peter McGraw actually coined the name ‘benign violation theory’ a decade laterbuilding it out a bit further. They proposed that we laugh at violations of social norms (strange behaviors, picking nose), morals (disrespectful behavior, sexist jokes), normal language patterns (puns, using an incorrect word in place of a similar sounding one) and so on, as long as they’re not threatening.

Take a close look at the words featured on the t-shirt above. The phrase “I wet my plants” is a garden pun, and plays off of wetting your pants and watering plants. On the one hand, it seems as though it doesn’t make senseand like a social norm violation, because adults generally don’t wet their pants (or at least talk about it)but, it makes total sense to those with a green thumb. Because of this duality, the pun is a “violation of a normal language pattern” and also “benign,” which fits the theory. Gardeners, plant lovers, and florists alike would definitely wear something like this and find it funny since watering plants is a common task they can relate to.

Pro Tip: Think of a few activities, sports or hobbies and try and come up with some puns or strange behaviors that relate to each, making sure they aren’t threatening (offensive). Then play around with funny sentences or sketch some funny artwork to see what you come up with.

2. Bergson’s Mechanical Theory

[Image source: BossiEverything on Etsy]

Bergson’s mechanical theory is the idea that things are funny because they’re true. In fact, it’s why many comedies rely on predictable patterns of behavior that we see and do in our everyday lives. We often laugh at jokes that remind us of our own quirks, or even the behavior of our friends, families and co-workers.                  

A shirt in line with this theory is the Dwight graphic tee featured above. For example, in The Office, Dwight loves to contradict what people are saying by using irrelevant facts to make himself look smarter. When he does this, he’ll often start by saying, “FALSE.” Someone watching this play out might think, “I know a guy from work who is a total Dwight.” Or, you might watch it and think, “Wow, that’s totally me!”, and because it speaks your personality, it might be funny to you to wear a shirt like the one above.

Pro Tip: Think of some quirky things you, or people you know, do or say and write them down. Throw in some fun personality traits too. Then use this list to outline general ideas for a funny design that anyone could relate to.

3. Release Theory

[Image source: 229DesignShop on Etsy]

The release theory is the idea that laughter happens as a result of tension breaking between people. An example of this theory is when a person breaks the awkward silence after meeting someone they think is cute and uses the pick-up line, “Did it hurt? …When you fell from Heaven?” 

However, psychologist Robert Priest went further, noting that if the tension felt by a group of people was ‘strong’ rather than ‘moderate’, it could invoke frustration instead of humor. An example of this would be trying to break the ice by telling a joke about feminists to a feminist group. It’s probably not going to be received too well. 

With that said, a good example of this theory in practice would be the “dad joke” shirt above. Dads and lame jokes are synonymous, and almost a right of passage. But since they always create that tension in the room, where people may feel pressured to pretend that their jokes are funny, wearing this this shirt is a perfect anecdote for making everyone feel at ease, when they don’t laugh.

Pro Tip: Jot down some funny pick-up lines or think of phrases or situations people use to break tension in the room. Are there any that make sense as a slogan or graphic tee? Show them to your family and friends to get their opinion, then create a few test shirts and see what sells. 

Now that you’re familiar with the top theories behind why things are funny, you can use the philosophies as a guide in developing your own funny tees. Just remember, think about who your niche audience is first, then brainstorm possible situations they could relate to. 

Ready to stock up on basics and start screen printing your own funny tees? Check out our extensive selection of quality brands on the S&S Activewear website

Screen Printing Halftones Like A Pro

Geno from Wichita Screen Printing and LearnHowToScreenPrint.com is back again to show you how to print halftones, using the Alternative Go-To Tee (style 1070). You can get some really amazing printing detail if you do it just right, so we’re here to help you get the best results possible.

If you’re wondering what halftone printing is though, here is a brief summary. This method is a one-color process that uses a series of dots varying in size or spacing, which combines together to form a gradient of that color. Those gradients then help to form the final image.

The number of halftone dots in the print is measured in LPI ( Lines Per Inch ), which is the number of dots per linear inch. The amount of detail and smoothness of your print will be determined a lot by the LPI.

In the video above, Geno will show you the difference in the results when printing using 35 LPI vs 55 LPI. He’ll also touch on the importance of screen tension, and using the right mesh to get the best results.

Overcome These 4 Fears About Selling Apparel Right Now

When Howard Potter, CEO of Utica, NY-based A&P Master Images, first started his decorated-apparel business, he operated from a 15-foot-by-15-foot room in his house. “In the beginning, I sold apparel mostly from catalogs and ordered samples to show customers only when I needed them,” he says.

As his business grew, he increased his showroom space—from 8 feet on a wall, to an 8-by-10 area, and then to a large 20-by-20 showroom. “We created a better layout and experience for our customers to view products,” Potter says. “But when we didn’t have tons of space to show actual garments, we didn’t let that become a block to stop us from selling.”

Potter focused on a couple of things: showing clients the most popular and effective mid-level and up styles in a variety of colors, plus recommending apparel and decoration unique to each client’s needs. “We want them to know that we aren’t trying to make them look like everyone else,” Potter says.

Many distributors and decorators, who’d like to sell more apparel, need to overcome their fears about selling it (even more so than overcoming their customers’ objections).  Luckily, we’re here to help you get past the four most common challenges we’ve heard about.

Continue reading “Overcome These 4 Fears About Selling Apparel Right Now”

Work With Your Fashion Tee. Not Against It.

Do you want to sell more fashion tees, but haven’t had much success getting the right printing results when using them? Are you defaulting to selling basic cotton tees as a result? The problem could be that you’re working against your garment, and not with it. Times have changed and the “one style fits all” approach to screen printing just doesn’t cut it anymore. What works on basic 6.0 oz./ 100% cotton tees doesn’t necessarily work on lightweight fashion fabrics like 3.7 oz triblends or 4.2 oz 100% ringspun cotton. So what’s the difference?

Continue reading “Work With Your Fashion Tee. Not Against It.”

7 Major Graphic Design Trends to Keep an Eye On for 2019

Whether you design your own graphics for your apparel business or work with a graphic designer, it’s important to stay on top of the trends to make sure your garments remain relevant and are meeting a market need.

Here’s a closer look at seven major graphic design trends for 2019 to help your ideation process:

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ComfortWash: Supporting the U.S. Economy and the Environment

Have you ever considered how agriculture and fashion are so intrinsically connected? Farmers grow the materials that go into the textiles, and thus they’re the foundation of every fashionable piece you see online or in a store.

Take cotton, for example. Textile manufacturers in the U.S. use an average of 7.6 million bales of cotton each year. As a leading cash crop, it aids in stimulating the American economy and provides significant environmental benefits.

Are you ready to start supporting the local economy and environment? Here’s why you should consider working more with brands who choose material grown in the U.S.

The Impact of U.S. Cotton

Growing the Economy

Of the thousands of cotton growers in America, many are family-owned farms whose rural communities depend on stable farm income. In fact, the crop is responsible for employing over 126,000 people and bringing in more than $120 billion in business revenue for the U.S. annually. Of the total annual yield, more than half is used for apparel!

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Cherry LA: A Lesson in Creativity for Any Small Business

When it comes to 2019 fashion, streetwear is still king. Brands like Supreme, Stüssy, and even Louis Vuitton, continue to buzz in circles of hype beasts and fashionistas alike. The rise and reign of streetwear is intrinsically tied to social media, with brands like I.AM.GIA proving that overnight success is just one Hadid or Jenner Instagram tag away from blowing up in popularity.

Though breaking into the landscape may seem impossible as a small business, Cherry Los Angeles has shown there’s plenty of room for the small guy to shine in the streetwear scene. While Cherry LA’s re-worked Dickies and bold graphic tees are worthy of praise, their ever-growing success can really be attributed to their bold and brilliant branding. If you’re looking to carve your own path in the streetwear sector, be sure to add Cherry LA to your inspiration board for ideas in creativity.

New to the brand? Don’t worry, we’ll get you up to speed!

Continue reading “Cherry LA: A Lesson in Creativity for Any Small Business”

Tommy Hilfiger: America’s Favorite Preppy Brand

Following bankruptcy in the late ‘70s from his first apparel business, The People’s Place, Tommy Hilfiger set out to master not only the creative pulse of fashion, but also the business of commerce. By this time, preppy style had manifested into a class of its own, with aspiring designers opening doors to wealthy clientele left and right. With the style originating from upper-class Ivy League college students on the East Coast, it drew inspiration from popular New England sports like sailing, fencing, golf and polo. Preppy became so much more than a fashion statement, it was (and is) a culture and lifestyle. So, how exactly did Hilfiger go from bankruptcy to iconic, internationally-recognized, “preppy American luxury”? Continue reading “Tommy Hilfiger: America’s Favorite Preppy Brand”

Everything You Need to Know to​ Launch Your E-Commerce Site

As the digital age continues to transform the way consumers interact with brands, more brick-and-mortar print shops are adapting to include an online retail presence. It’s a smart play considering the apparel and accessories e-commerce sector is expected to generate over $138.7 billion in revenue by 2022. 

The time to take your business online was yesterday. Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to launch your e-commerce site. Continue reading “Everything You Need to Know to​ Launch Your E-Commerce Site”

Setting Customer Expectations for Optimal Screen Printing Designs

In the screen printing business, quality customer service and the ability to retain clients can have a huge impact on your bottom line. While many companies operate based on the coined phrase, “the customer is always right,” it doesn’t mean clients should walk all over your business or exploit your services. Part of operating a successful business is creating reasonable customer expectations upfrontespecially when it comes to screen printing designs.

Educating the client early about any artwork limitations helps build brand trust, ultimately leading to repeat customers. The last thing you want is Continue reading “Setting Customer Expectations for Optimal Screen Printing Designs”