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VO4TA: Wry

Hugh P. Klitzke blogs at


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VO4TA: Wry


Wry. Merriam Webster - cleverly and often ironically or grimly humorous


Simplest examples I can find? Ecards.  


Google them. I’ll still be here…


When you look at them you know the words are supposed to be funny because they're captions to cartoons. But without context the joke can be lost. Or worse; too serious.


Caption: “You had me at your impeccable spelling and use of grammar.”  


Image: A beautiful woman craning her neck to rest her head on the shoulder of her beau. Her posture and smile with the caption make the whole picture funny.  


Caption: “Ask me again to share my bacon and I will set you on fire”.

Image: An adorable little girl with huge eyes and her mouth stuffed full of a white bread sandwich. The context that the image provides makes the text funny.  


In voiceover we are asked to be “wry and knowing” and yet so very often we are not provided with any kind of context at all.


The challenge is usually two-fold:

1) Where to be wry and 2) How to be wry.  


In a commercial when asked for “wry” it is usually performed on the first line or the line before the recapitulation of the product and product tag.  


The how? When there is no context - we have to make it up ourselves.  


Script: “The story of my life… More complicated than particle physics.  Fortunately there’s the Amazon Dash Button”  


“Wry” really can’t go on the product because we want the product to sound like a solution, not a part of the problem. And the “particle physics” image can generate a context in our imagination.


Script: “You don’t have to be a genius to keep your laundry clean. Amazon Dash.  Shopping made simple”


So, always put the “wry” in the right place and imagine it’s context. Remember - you don’t need to be right about the context, but you have to know what it is that you are playing. Only then will a listener hear it.




Hugh P. Klitzke blogs at  


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