In Florida yesterday, workers at a Goodwill store emptied a donation bin and found a hand grenade. That’s weird. Wouldn’t you donate a hand grenade to The Salvation Army?
How I wrote it:
To construct the punch line I used my Punch Line Maker #4: Find a play on words in the topic.
The first handle of the topic is “Goodwill store,” which is associated with its rival, “The Salvation Army.” The second handle is “hand grenade,” which is associated with “army.” The punch line uses the two different meanings of “army” to link the two topic handles in a surprising way.
I knew that “The Salvation Army” had to come at the end of the joke because my Joke Maximizer #2 is “End on the laugh trigger.” But to set up that laugh trigger properly I needed an angle to smoothly connect it to the topic.
My first attempt at an angle resulted in this: “Apparently competition is really heating up with The Salvation Army.” But any ruthless store competing with another store might conceivably leave a hand grenade at the rival store. So stating that The Salvation Army did so wouldn’t be very surprising. I felt that a bigger surprise for the audience would arise from their making the connection between “army” and “hand grenade.”
So I came up with a more effective angle that eliminates the competition aspect entirely. The angle “That’s weird. Wouldn’t you donate a hand grenade to…” directs the audience’s undivided attention to the wordplay in “The Salvation Army” and gets a bigger laugh.