Over the weekend, health officials reported a case of possible bubonic plague in Inner Mongolia. So crowds of people from Lake of the Ozarks immediately flew there to have a pool party.
How I wrote it:
This news item drew my attention because I thought there might be a joke that makes a surprising connection between the medieval-sounding “bubonic plague” and the current coronavirus pandemic. That is, I turned to my Punch Line Maker #2: Link the topic to pop culture.
“Coronavirus” has many associations, but one that was top of mind for me when I wrote this joke was “oblivious partiers at Lake of the Ozarks.” For several days in a row I saw on TV and online the same footage of a pool party packed with revelers tossing around beach balls. Because I had seen the story in multiple media outlets, I was fairly confident that my audience would make that association too. So I based my punch line on it.
I thought quite a bit about how to describe those partiers. I wanted the joke to be clear, which pointed me toward a detailed description like “those people in the Midwest who you’ve seen in the news having pool parties even after they’ve been strongly urged to maintain social distance to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.”
But my Joke Maximizer #1 is “Shorten as much as possible.” So, taking into account how familiar I thought my audience was with the story, I trimmed the angle and punch line down to what you see.
My Joke Maximizer #7 is “Use stop consonants, alliteration, and assonance,” and luckily my angle and punch line have lots of stop consonants–three in “pool party” alone.