Clorox is recalling some of its Pine Sol disinfectant cleaning products because they may contain infection-causing bacteria. Listen, if your disinfectant can cause an infection, you don’t need a recall, you need a dictionary.
How I wrote it:
My immediate reaction when I first read this news item was to ask myself questions like, “Isn’t Pine Sol a disinfectant? So how can it have bacteria in it?” That is, I gravitated to my Punch Line Maker #6: State the obvious about the topic.
To use that Punch Line Maker, I planned to write a punch line based on an obvious answer to those obvious questions. The obvious answer would be something like, “Pine Sol isn’t actually a disinfectant.”
But my Joke Maximizer #11 is “Don’t be too on-the-nose.” And ending the joke with words like “Apparently Pine Sol isn’t actually a disinfectant” would be too on-the-nose. As a result, the joke wouldn’t be as surprising, and funny, as it could be.
As I thought about a less direct way to word the punch line, I did some research on Pine Sol and confirmed that it is indeed a disinfectant. I wanted to confirm that fact because not every news story about the recall mentioned it.
I also looked up “disinfectant” in the dictionary to confirm that disinfectants kill bacteria. My using the dictionary gave me the idea of making “dictionary” the laugh trigger of my, now off-the-nose, punch line.
I also made sure to include “disinfectant” in the topic of the joke because that word is so important to the punch line.
And consistent with my Joke Maximizer #1—Shorten as much as possible—I omitted from the topic all unnecessary details, like exactly which Pine Sol products were being recalled.