Loo roll stockpiling and flour shortages, social distancing, home hair-cutting, baking obsession, Netflix bingeing, Zoom cocktail parties, while all in a serious cause, lockdown has birthed its own phrases and behaviour patterns. And where there is adversity there is invariably humour. PG Buzz delves into how the experiences of the last few months have been and will continue to be reflected on humorous cards.
While everyone has their own personal ‘sense of humour’, which presents both a challenge and an opportunity for card publishers and retail stockists, the fact that everyone was plunged into lockdown at the same time created an enormous commonality and which makes for fertile ground on the humour (as well as on the empathetic) front.
As Rosie Harrison, founder of Rosie Made a Thing sums up: “we are all experiencing the same problems, the same irritations and the same challenges. Most of us have been spending too much ‘quality’ time with our spouses, over-eating, home-schooling, touching our faces, watching Netflix, cutting our own hair, missing pubs being open, the list goes on…”
While she acknowledges that some themes will peter out as the situation moves on – “obtaining loo roll doesn’t seem to be such an issue any more (but don’t get me started on flour though!)” – other elements, such as “face masks, social distancing and lack of pubs and restaurants will continue into our new normal,” believes Rosie, who has just launched a range of Isolation-themed card designs that have evolved from the positive reactions to her daily illustrative observations she has posted on Instagram.
Another avid social media feeder, Dean Morris, founder of Dean Morris Cards has also been encouraged by the reaction to his lockdown-reflective memes, several of which have made it onto cards, with plenty of others in the pipeline. “One unique lockdown phenomenon that has been very popular as a card – and initially a meme I created for Instagram – is a random card about banana bread. It’s not for a specific occasion, but has sold very well,” reveals Dean. While there are some specific references which have shot to fame – “If you had asked me a year ago who Carole Baskin was I wouldn’t have had a clue but anything with her or Tiger King on have been very popular, but how long that particular zeitgeist will last is anyone’s guess” – there are other situations which are set to continue.
Missing birthdays and other occasions with people you would traditionally spend time with have been very popular themes and there will be lots of catching up when things do start to return to normality. As Dean reveals the ‘sorry I’m missing your birthday – let’s get drunk later when the pubs are open again’ is likely to continue as a sentiment for a little while yet.
Among the lockdown designs which Redback has published, include a reference the limitations of video calls and the likely outcome of a home haircut with one Cloud Nine design scooping up the whole period. It reads ‘2020. Great unless you want to do anything, buy anything, go anywhere or see anyone’.
While lockdown has spawned a whole raft of new topical funnies which tap into the new-fangled buzzwords or Covid-isms, as Martin Powderly, creative director of Pigment has discovered, the current situation has also brought a new pertinence to some existing designs.
“The ‘staying in is the new going out’ design in our Hey Girl range as a result of lockdown is all the more relevant, as is our Cuckoo design which says ‘the wheelie bin gets out more than I do’ which have gone on to be best sellers,” reveals Martin.
He also signals how with couples enforced to spend more time together, some of the wording on relations cards are even more poignant. “We have one husband card that indicates he is a ‘work in progress’ which very much chimes with what many wives are thinking right now!”
Danilo is another publisher which has found a heightened resonance with some of its ranges, notably Dad’s Army and Friends. As Dan Grant, Danilo’s licensing director highlights “With millions of people across the UK at home due to the Covid-19 lockdown, we’re seeing a significant but unsurprising increase in the level of TV consumption across the nation. Retro humour titles such as Friends, Only Fools and Horses, Father Ted and Dad’s Army are all good examples of light-hearted TV shows that have experienced a comeback to our screens in recent months through mainstream and on-demand services. It’s clear that engaging in past shows such as these allows people to temporarily escape the stress of their present professional and personal situation.”
Just as the “Don’t panic Mr Mainwaring” was a popular rally call for Dad’s Army character Corporal Jones in the classic TV series, so it seems humorous cards are doing their bit for the Covid-19 war effort in all their multifarious forms from the downright silly to the politically barbed.
Mark Callaby, md of Ohh Deer concurs. Mark cites its Breaking News design card in particular from its Technically Ron range as summing up the current, more politicised feeling of the nation – a shared togetherness in not really knowing what is going on.
As it states on its website next to the design, ‘We may as well admit it, we’re all sick of ‘BREAKING NEWS’ and we might as well call it ‘effing hell, what now’? C’mon humans, sort it out!’ As Mark points out, the fact that this has been such a winner, and is awaiting a reprint, says it all.
As Dean Morris sums up: “Whenever there is any crisis the British always look to humour to help deal with it” and there is always a card there waiting!
Top: Topical designs from (left-right) Poet & Painter, Emotional Rescue and Meraki.