A New York Times report says that multiple publishers rejected Woody Allen’s memoir. Woody Allen defended the book, calling it “a touching children’s story.”
How I wrote it:
I went with my Punch Line Maker #4: Find a play on words in the topic. This punch line uses wordplay to link an association of “Woody Allen”–child molestation–with a sub-association of “memoir”–children’s story.
A few readers expressed reservations about the joke, feeling that it’s unfair. Here’s why I think the joke is fair and therefore okay to laugh at:
The punch line is true. By “true,” I don’t mean factually, provably true; the punch line just has to be accepted as true by the audience for them to laugh.
I judged that most of my readers would accept as true that Woody Allen molested a child because most people in the business and entertainment worlds seem to accept it.
The news article that I based the joke on (link) details how Allen’s career has cratered as a result of the allegations. Even actors like Ellen Page, Evan Rachel Wood, and Michael Caine have said that they regret having worked with him.
The joke “punches up.” Allen has been a world-famous celebrity for decades and he’s won four Oscars. Until recently he occupied a position of considerable power compared to almost everyone. That means he’s fair game.
The target of the joke is not a victim of circumstance. Unlike some celebrities, Allen doesn’t suffer openly from mental or physical health problems or some other condition that he can’t help. If he did, he’d be off-limits for jokes. Instead, Allen allegedly made a deliberate choice to do something very bad. So again, he’s fair game.
Humor is subjective, of course, and not everybody will enjoy any given joke. But this joke got more than three times the favorable response that my jokes usually get on Twitter and Facebook. So apparently most people agreed that it’s fair.