It’s the day after Thanksgiving, one of the biggest shopping days of the year, and the crowds are huge. Over 600 people are in line waiting to get into some stores in California…and those are just the shoplifters.
How I wrote it:
I wanted to write a joke about Black Friday because it’s an annual event and it was in the news again. But the event by itself has only one topic handle: “Black Friday.”
So I used my Punch Line Maker #2: Link the topic to pop culture. To do that, I brainstormed associations of “Black Friday,” one of which is “crowds of people at stores.” That association called to mind other stories in the news, which were about crowds of thieves and shoplifters stealing from stores in California. So I wrote a punch line that links Black Friday shopping to the mass robberies in California.
When I fine-tuned the topic, I used my Joke Maximizer #3: Backload the topic. I did that by moving “the crowds are huge” to the end of the sentence. Those words in the topic relate most directly to the punch line.
I also backloaded the angle, for a different reason. I moved “in California” as close to the punch line as possible. If I put it earlier I thought my audience might guess the punch line, and my Joke Maximizer #5 is “Don’t telegraph the punch line.”
I close the number 600 because it’s large but plausible. If the number were large but implausible, say 6,000, then I thought it would distract the audience. And a distracted audience may not laugh as much at the punch line when it arrives.