As a result of too much debt and the coronavirus, Hertz filed for bankruptcy. Plus Hertz officials owe an extra billion dollars because they didn’t return the company with a full tank of gas.
How I wrote it:
I focused on this business story because the big news outlets were covering it, which indicated that a mass audience would probably be interested in a joke on the topic.
To create the joke, I started with my Punch Line Maker #1: Link two associations of the topic. One handle of the topic, “Hertz,” has associations like “make a reservation,” “return with a full tank,” and “decline the insurance.”
Another handle of the topic, “bankruptcy,” has associations like “Chapter 11,” “owe money,” and “falling sales.”
After mentally trying out many possible combinations of associations, I decided that the funniest punch line would link “owe money” and “return with a full tank.”
To make that punch line work logically, I had to figure out who would owe the money for not returning the company with a full tank. The company couldn’t logically owe the money to itself, so the angle I wrote said that unspecified “Hertz officials” owed it.
I set the money they owed for the gas at a billion dollars, in line with my Joke Maximizer #8: Wildly exaggerate. A tank of gas doesn’t cost anywhere near that much, even at rental car company prices.
And I mentioned “too much debt” in the topic, to more smoothly connect “bankruptcy” in the topic to the idea of owing lots of money in the angle and punch line.