Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson tested positive for coronavirus. Not to be outdone, Jussie Smollett says he was attacked by a coronavirus wearing a MAGA hat.
How I wrote it:
I started with the punch line and worked backwards using my Punch Line Maker #2–Link the topic to pop culture.
The coronavirus pandemic is obviously a big story so I wanted to use it as a springboard to comedy. One useful way to mine a big story for jokes is to think about how it affects various celebrities.
To do that, I thought of an association of “coronavirus”–“attacked by”–and then brainstormed celebrities who were “attacked by” someone or something. Jussie Smollett is still in the news for his claims of having been attacked by someone shouting about MAGA, so I grafted “coronavirus” into Smollett’s claim to get my punch line.
Once I had my punch line, I needed a topic. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were other celebrities affected by the coronavirus at the time, so I used the news item about them.
Finally I added an angle–“Not to be outdone.” The angle is logical because it reflects Smollett’s apparent need to call attention to himself.
The coronavirus pandemic is a tricky topic for jokes because people are dying. The way to write jokes about a sensitive topic is to steer clear of its most disturbing aspects.
So in writing this joke I didn’t call to mind any graphic details of the pandemic, like the current death toll. Instead I diverted the attention of the audience onto a deserving pop culture figure to get a laugh.