At the end of President Trump’s State of the Union address, Nancy Pelosi ripped his speech in half. Then she proposed expanding health care coverage to include pre-existing paper cuts.
How I wrote it:
I wanted to write about the speech-ripping because it grabbed my interest and got a lot of media coverage, which are characteristics of a promising joke topic.
I turned to Punch Line Maker #3–Ask a question about the topic–and after trying out a few questions I settled on “What might happen if you tore up all that paper?” One answer to that question–you’d get a lot of paper cuts–became the basis of my punch line.
But I thought that ending the joke something like this would have been ineffective: “Nancy Pelosi ripped his speech in half and got a lot of paper cuts.” The joke needed an angle, to misdirect the audience on their way to the punch line.
To come up with an angle, I thought more about paper cuts and associated them with requiring medical treatment. Then I associated medical treatment with health care coverage, which is an important issue for the Democrats. That’s how I came up with the angle about Pelosi’s health care proposal.
I could have just ended the joke with “to include paper cuts.” But I added “pre-existing” to “paper cuts” because of my Joke Maximizer #7: Use stop consonants, alliteration, and assonance.
Plus “pre-existing” made sense in the context of the joke; when the proposed health care coverage took effect, Pelosi’s paper cuts would be pre-existing. If the word didn’t make sense, adding it might distract the audience from laughing.