A new study says drinking sugar-sweetened beverages increases the risk of death. That’s why they’re renaming those soft drinks Coca-Coma, Mountain Doom, and Dr. Reaper.
How I wrote it:
That news item caught my eye because it has two handles with lots of associations, “sugar-sweetened beverages” and “death.”
To write the rest of the joke I used my Punch Line Maker #4: Find a play on words in the topic.
I started by brainstorming a list of associations for “sugar-sweetened beverages.” What I mean is, in pre-internet days I would have brainstormed those associations. Instead, what I actually did was google “soft drink brands” and run my eyes down the list.
As I did, I simultaneously ran through a mental list of words associated with the other topic handle, “death.” I cross-referenced both lists until I found a pair of associations that I could link with wordplay: “Dr. Pepper” and “Reaper.” Then I substituted “Reaper” for “Pepper” to get one of my laugh triggers.
Both “soft drinks” and “death” are so rich in associations that I felt I could make two more wordplay linkages; I wanted a total of three–no more, no less–because my Joke Maximizer #10 says to “Use the Rule of Three.” And I was able to link “Coca-Cola” to “coma” and “Mountain Dew” to “doom” to fill out my punch line.
Finally, I added the angle “That’s why they’re renaming those soft drinks…” to clearly and logically connect the topic sentence to my punch line.
Seventeenth-century poet and playwright John Dryden called the pun the “lowest and most groveling kind of wit.” But in the context of a well-structured joke, wordplay like a pun can work as well as any laugh trigger.