Scientists in Siberia have discovered million-year-old woolly mammoth DNA. The scientists were thrilled, and so was a woolly mammoth when Maury Povich told him, “You are NOT the father!”
How I wrote it:
This topic caught my eye because “DNA” has a lot of associations and therefore could result in jokes that go off in several directions.
My Punch Line Maker #1 is “Link two associations of the topic,” so my first task was to decide which other topic handle to link “DNA” to. “Woolly mammoth” was a logical candidate, but I couldn’t think of many associations for it beyond “woolly” and “prehistoric.”
So I thought some more about the rest of the topic. Topic handles are usually nouns, but the verb “discovered” stood out. I asked myself “What did the scientists discover about the DNA?” which prompted me to try my Punch Line Maker #4: Link the topic to pop culture. I thought of Maury Povich revealing the results of paternity tests on his show. And I had the basis of my punch line.
My punch line was relatively long, but I couldn’t figure out how to shorten “Maury Povich told him, ‘You are NOT the father!'” without hurting the joke. All I could do is put the entire punch line at the very end of the joke, as opposed to telegraphing the punch line by wording the joke something like, “Even more surprising was when Maury Povich told the woolly mammoth, ‘You are NOT the father.'”
The woolly mammoth that the scientists discovered was long-dead, of course, which made it tough to connect to the very much alive Maury Povich. So to smoothly connect the topic to the punch line I added an angle based on the idea of living things being thrilled.