This is very much a work in progress. ¬†Much like the post “Pun.” this is an exercise in self-reflection and personal analysis of joke writing. It probably isn’t good as advice to start writing jokes; it is written primarily as a tool of self-help. ¬†That said, sharing is good, yeah?
- It‚Äôs all silly ‚Äì Punch, punch, punch
I recently heard Jim Gaffigan perform a bit on camping and bears and he appeared to get laughs straight through a list of three.¬† The items were all funny, they all complimented one another, and they didn‚Äôt indicate any particular structure. The premise was very silly, so the list was just a series of punches/tags. That list was abutted by two funny lines on their own weight. It‚Äôs as if someone as good as Gaffigan gets to the point where the structure becomes absorbed by the density of funny in the material. ¬†I.e. Last time I was [camping] I got a pamphlet that says if a bear approaches, you’re supposed to play dead. Really? We’re gonna rely on my acting skills? Who came up with that? Maybe the bears!? ‚ÄúPlay dead, cover yourself in honey, climb on a large white plate.¬† Don’t try to run away from us… I mean, the bears.‚Äù
- Rule of Three Substantive Variations
In addition to variations in structure, there are flourishes that come out in the substance of the joke.¬† The following are some descriptions and examples utilizing the List-List-Punch structure:
- Class shift: Great athletes: Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Stephen Hawkins.
- Trait twist: She was exotic‚Äîthe eyes, the curves, the Adam‚Äôs apple.
- Likeability reverse: D.C. has everything a traveler on a budget could want: international people, international artwork, international-transmitted-diseases.
- Rhyming and mis-Rhyming: Mary Mary quite contrary how does your garden grow; With wizz and e‚Äôs and ganja trees and coke as white as snow & Georgie Porgie pudding and pie; Kissed the girls and made them cry; When the boys came out to play, Georgie was assassinated. True story; don‚Äôt be a dick.
- Musicality: One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor. ‚ÄìG. Carlin