A Pennsylvania gym reopened during the state’s lockdown and received four citations. Actually the gym received a high-intensity set of two citations, then had a one-minute cool down, then received another set of two citations.
How I wrote it:
This news item drew my attention because it’s about a huge story, the coronavirus pandemic, but only incidentally. It also has a handle, “gym,” with a lot of associations that might be used to create a punch line.
For a second topic handle, “citations” didn’t seem promising because it doesn’t call to mind any strong associations. So I considered “four” for a handle, and quickly realized that I could link it to “gym” by treating it as a number in a workout routine.
But I faced a wording challenge because in a gym you would perform four reps, say, of an exercise; you wouldn’t receive them. And the topic says that the gym received four citations.
I dealt with that challenge by using my Joke Maximizer #6–Make the punch line parallel–and repeating the word “received” that appears in the topic.
But that meant I had to carefully word the rest of the joke so it would be clear that I was referring to a workout routine. For clarity, I repeated the word “gym” at the start of my angle. I also added gym jargon like “high-intensity” and “cool down” that I harvested from Google. Those added details also exploited my Joke Maximizer #9: Get specific.
Listing all those details of the citation workout routine does telegraph the punch line a little bit, which I normally try to avoid. But I thought the details were necessary to make the joke completely clear.