According to firefighters, one of those terrible wildfires in California this weekend was caused by a pyrotechnic device at a gender reveal photo shoot. It turns out it was also an IQ reveal photo shoot.
How I wrote it:
This is an example of how to write a joke based in some way on a high-profile but potentially disturbing news item. In this case, the news item relates to the horrific wildfires on the West Coast of the U.S.
The key to dealing with such a sensitive topic is to write the joke so that it doesn’t call to mind the most disturbing aspects of the topic.
To do that, I used my Punch Line Maker #6: State the obvious about the topic. But the handle of the topic that I focused on wasn’t the wildfires themselves. Instead, I focused on who used the pyrotechnic device. And, to me, the obvious thing about that person is that he or she is an idiot.
So I set out to write a punch line that stated the person was an idiot and that also linked to another handle of the topic, “gender reveal photo shoot.” One of the associations of “idiot” is “low IQ.” So I constructed the linkage by substituting “IQ” for “gender.” And I had my laugh trigger.
I made the laugh trigger “IQ reveal photo shoot” instead of “low IQ reveal photo shoot” or “idiot reveal photo shoot” because I felt those last two options would be too direct, and my Joke Maximizer #11 is “Don’t be too on-the-nose.”
I also used my Joke Maximizer #6–“Make the punch line parallel”–by writing the joke the way I did instead of something like “It turns out the photo shoot also revealed an idiot.”