A tattoo artist in India broke a Guinness World Record when he gave tattoos for 91 consecutive hours. He would have made it to 92 hours, but somebody asked for a tattoo of a dozen sheep.
How I wrote it:
I thought this news item might lead to a good joke because it has two promising handles, “tattoo artist” and “91 consecutive hours.” Plus the item conjures up a vivid mental image, an exhausted guy tattooing.
I started with my Punch Line Maker #1: Link two associations of the topic. The handle “91 consecutive hours” suggests, among other things, “really tired.” That association has the sub-association “fall asleep.”
The second topic handle, “tattoo artist,” has the association “a tattoo.” Trying to link that association with “fall asleep,” I asked myself the question “What tattoo would make him fall asleep?” My playful answer, a succession of sheep, became the basis of my punch line.
To complete the joke, I had to add an angle. I considered angles like “He would have kept going, but he fell asleep when…” But that angle would have violated my Joke Maximizer #5: Don’t telegraph the punch line.
And the phrase “he would have kept going” didn’t seem to steer the audience strongly enough toward the important idea of falling asleep.
So I came up with “he would have made it to 92 hours.” That phrase emphasizes that the tattoo artist had already stayed awake for a really long time.
The original news item ended with “…he spent 91 consecutive hours giving tattoos to 64 people.” But my Joke Maximizer #1 is “Shorten as much as possible.” So I took out the unnecessary detail “64 people.”
And my Joke Maximizer #3 is “Backload the topic.” So I moved the phrase that’s most important to the punch line, “91 consecutive hours,” to the end.