Yesterday former President Bill Clinton was released from the hospital after being treated for an infection. While he was there he got intravenous antibiotics, intravenous fluids, and 14 nurses’ phone numbers.
How I wrote it:
This news story got my attention because it involved Bill Clinton. When I was working for Dave Letterman I wrote hundreds of Bill Clinton jokes. So I thought I’d write one about this story for old times’ sake, particularly because Clinton wasn’t very ill.
Whenever I write a joke I try to have it say something that pretty much everybody will agree with; that way I won’t split the audience. In the case of Bill Clinton, one association that almost everybody will agree with is that he loves the ladies and the ladies love him.
So I decided to use that association of Bill Clinton. But to employ my Punch Line Maker #1–Link two associations of the topic–I also needed an association of “treated for an infection,” the other likely topic handle.
At first I considered using the sub-association “got fluids” to write a punch line referring to how Bill Clinton got into trouble as President by “giving his fluids.” But that seemed too icky.
So instead I linked “got fluids” with a different sub-association of Clinton’s philandering: getting lots of phone numbers. To make that laugh trigger as effective as possible, I made it the last item in a list, as suggested by my Joke Maximizer #10–Use the Rule of Three.
Why did I pick 14 as the number of nurses? Because the number was clearly large but not so crazily large that the audience might be distracted by a thought like “Wait, even a major hospital doesn’t have 2,367 nurses.”
I also wanted the alliteration between “14” and “phone numbers” because my Joke Maximizer #7 is “Use stop consonants, alliteration, and assonance.”