…and the importance of non-sequiturs
March 12, 2021
Licky and Sticky were two half-sucked, free-range lollipops living in a gutter in Henderson County, California. I was introduced to the idea of their existence while assisting my friend Suzan. (There is more than one friend named Sue in my life. I think it’s allowed, like multiple Aunts.) She was teaching computer animation to kids who were in Summer school due to academic or disciplinary issues. I had come along as her script-writing, storyboarding, hand-drawn animation expert, as well as someone to help keep track of 15 antsy, intelligent kids who needed, well, who needed more than they were getting..
We had divided the group into several groups of two or three. The kids were writing and then pitching story ideas for their shorts. These two did a creditable job: wrote three beats of story, pitched it well, and even had a character design to show us. The thing that really made them stand out was this: When they set up the pitch, and we first heard the name, “Licky and Sticky,” the room burst into a laugh.
We had everyone pitch their work, and then come back up for their feedback, so they had had time to think about how things could be done, or done better. I was interested to hear what the group would say to the “Licky and Sticky" guys. Practically the first thing someone said was, “That name is stupid. You should think of something more original.” I looked around the room.
“Do you all agree with that? Do you think this name is stupid?” There were several nods.
“Huh,” I said, “ Do you remember what happened when they said the title?” There was a pause.
“Yes. So what made you laugh?”
“It was stupid.”
”Can anyone tell me the names of some popular cartoon?”
There were several named; SpongeBob Squarepants, Beavis and Butthead, etcetera...
“So maybe, since this is a comic animated skit, it’s ok for something to be a bit obvious and stupid. The first time you laughed, How did you feel? surprised, happy, amused? When you hear the name now, say it to yourself. See if you can feel your reaction.”
After some skirmishing to dig opinions out of the teenagers, we established that reminiscences of the name still brought a good feeling, amusement, interest. I seized the opportunity to talk about the “stickyness” of ideas, and of “mind loops” in marketing.
The thing that really stuck with me, though, was how important the odd ball thought was, and how very nearly it was tossed out as “not good enough.”
If you say or think something that makes you laugh, pay attention.
Startling things, strange things, things that seem too odd to be real, or right, or true, they are the things that you need to pay the most attention to. The laugh, the start, the shake of the head, are all signals. Something important is going by. Take notice!