While the theme for this issue is "humor," it really should be "trying to be funny during an unfunny time."

Unless you've been living under a rock or in a cave somewhere, you'll understand what we're getting at here. As the recession continues to linger and more money and jobs are lost, people across the country are all affected negatively in some way.

Mind you, this is not 9/11. Thousands of people lost their lives that day, not just their jobs. And though the economy faltered during the subsequent year, people realized that they still had a lot to be thankful for.

The good news is that even though we're in one of the most severe economic downturns since the Great Depression, generally speaking, people still want humor in their daily lives. Middle America is still flocking to see silly movies like "Mall Cop" and "Monsters vs. Aliens." The highest viewer-rated commercials during this year's Super Bowl had the usual slapstick comedy like the Doritos spot showing coworkers smashing a vending machine and a Bud Light spot with a marketing executive being jettisoned out the window during a meeting. This is the sort of comic relief America is looking for.

But advertisers are walking a fine line between being funny and going too far. As contributing editor Ann Cooper found out, a campaign like the wise-cracking E*Trade baby tested very well when times were good but when the economy crashed, it hit a sour note. But the creatives decided to take a risk, and comedy prevailed in the end.

We spoke with a few of advertising's funny men about, well, being funny, like Gerry Graf at Saatchi & Saatchi, Jeff Goodby at Goodby, Silverstein and Partners and Cliff Freeman at Cliff Freeman and Partners. We also travel around the world and take a look at humor in advertising in the UK, France and Thailand, which have three very different styles. And we spoke with Mother about its quirky, hilarious online films for 10 Cane Rum.

As you watch the winners of this year's One Show, you'll notice that there aren't any big, funny spots like Carlton's "Big Ad" or Guinness's "noitulovE," for obvious reasons. But what you will see are some stellar, if not smaller, ads, which once again proves that you don't need a big budget to produce a great ad. During this year's Super Bowl, the creatives at Saatchi & Saatchi even went so far as to create a one-second ad for Miller High Life to prove this point.

So forget the economy for a while and sit back and enjoy the show. Commercials may be short on dollars this year, but they certainly aren't short on great ideas.

Yash Egami

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