The art of writing a good joke welds a lot of power. A good joke can drive the plot of a TV sit-com, can spark political controversy … or, in this case, sell an oil change. KFAI’s Matthew Schneman spoke with a few auto mechanics about how they’ve made writing jokes part of their business. KFAI’s Matthew Schneeman has the story.
Since 2013 Ethan Derhy Has been delighting St Paul residents and commuters with incredibly gentle, sometimes surreal, jokes on the sign in front of his family’s three Signal Garage Auto Care locations. Lighthearted jokes like ‘Cat Puns Freak Meowt’ and strange ones like ‘Cup Holders are just Cup Cups’ provoke laughs, smiles, or eye rolling depending on your comedic sensibilities.
Ironically these signs have been an effective marketing tool. By not advertising your services people pay more attention and, according to Ethan, help People think of his business the next time they need their suspension checked out or oil changed.
But the signs also serve the purpose of spreading general positivity, something Ethan’s dad, who originally did the sign, instilled in Ethan. Before Ethan took over his dad was just playing with alliteration, signs like, ‘If you value your Volvo We’re the place for you.’ Ethan took it up a notch and posted signs like ‘Domestic cars, foreign cars, alien cars…’ and ‘Try our pumpkin spice motor oil!’ When he ran out of car puns he branched out to anything that was short and funny enough to be on a sign like ‘I wonder what my dog named me?’
Ethan says running a business is hard but doesn’t have to be so serious. He’s shown that, in fact, running a business can be easier if you’re not so serious.
Support for MinneCulture on KFAI comes from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.