The CDC is really being strict about the holidays because of the coronavirus. They even changed that Christmas carol about the reindeer. Now Vixen is Vaccine, Comet is Covid, Prancer is Pfizer, and no one can see Rudolph’s nose because it’s covered by a mask.
How I wrote it:
This joke started with the punch line instead of the more usual way–with the topic.
As I pondered how the pandemic might affect the holidays I noticed that “Covid” sounded sort of like “Comet,” one of the reindeer in the Christmas song “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” So I decided to write a joke using my Punch Line Maker #4: Find a play on words in the topic.
My Joke Maximizer #2 is “End on the laugh trigger,” so my instinct was to end the joke on “Covid.” But an internet search of the real lyrics revealed that “Comet” doesn’t end a line, it starts one. That meant that I couldn’t structure the punch line as a list of actual reindeer names from the song followed by “Covid.”
But as I studied the actual reindeer names, two more wordplay links between associations of “coronavirus” and “reindeer” occurred to me. The resulting fake names seemed funny so I decided to include them too.
However, that meant that my punch line would be a list of three reindeer names, all funny. So I couldn’t apply my Joke Maximizer #10–Use the Rule of Three–which requires a list of two unfunny items followed by third, surprisingly funny, item.
To end the joke with the funny surprise that I couldn’t achieve with the Rule of Three, I added a fourth laugh trigger that doesn’t depend on wordplay. Instead it links two associations of “coronavirus” and “reindeer” in a surprisingly visual way.
Once I had my punch line I wrote a factually true topic that included the handles I needed–“holidays” and “coronavirus”–to set up the punch line.
And I wrote an angle that mentions “Christmas carol” and “reindeer.” That way the audience would immediately identify the names in the punch line as coming from the “Rudolph” song.