Comedians agree that the best humor comes from truth, and it’s the expression of truth that makes this Subaru commercial so funny. Though the situation itself—a driving lesson for dogs—is not realistic, so much else in the commercial is.
A student driver hitting the mailbox is a cliché, which makes it funny when a dog does it. That dogs tend to react to ducks is so well known that it’s the perfect cause of the mailbox incident. The driver is already distracted by the ducks, but is startled enough to lose control of the car when the other dogs bark at them. We often jump in response to a dog suddenly barking, so we can relate to the driver’s misfortune.
The driver’s reactions to hitting the mailbox—blaming the dog riding shotgun and glaring at her—is so easy to understand, as is her response to the glare. When she hangs her head in shame, it’s impossible not to feel the burden of guilt for her loss of self-control and for the unfortunate result of her barking. The way the dogs communicate to each other non-verbally in this situation is reminiscent of so many human interactions, and the true-to-life nature of the scene is what makes it so funny.
Subaru’s latest commercial featuring dogs succeeds because it uses the truth to showcase the humor in life.