Because of fuel delivery delays, today American Airlines urged its pilots to do everything possible to conserve fuel. So if an American Airlines pilot tells you he just flew in from Phoenix and boy, are his arms tired, it’s not a joke.
How I wrote it:
This news item caught my attention because the idea of airline pilots conserving fuel seemed odd. Plus there seemed to be a lot of silly ways that pilots might do that.
While brainstorming those silly ways, I turned to my Punch Line Maker #5: Visualize the topic. I pictured an airliner cruising through the sky and asked myself how the pilot might conserve fuel in that situation.
Birds fly without jet fuel, so I warped my mental picture to show the pilot flapping his arms like a bird out the cockpit window. And I had the basic idea for my punch line.
But I felt I could do better than an on-the-nose punch line like “What’s a pilot supposed to do–flap his arms out the cockpit window?”
So I associated the pilot flapping his arms with the old “Boy, are my arms tired” flying joke; I thought I could use that old joke as part of my joke.
But I decided not to use the old joke as a punch line something like “So now you’ll hear American Airlines pilots saying they just flew in from Phoenix and boy, are their arms tired.” That’s because then my joke would be relying on an old, and therefore unsurprising, joke to get a laugh.
Instead, I worded my joke so that its punch line would make the surprising revelation that the pilot really did flap his arms the way the air traveler in the old joke supposedly did.
And why did I choose Phoenix for the city? Because my Joke Maximizer #7 is “Use stop consonants, alliteration, and assonance,” and “Phoenix” has the stop consonant K and alliteration with “flew.”