Jussie Smollett did not win Best Supporting Actor at the NAACP Image Awards. On the plus side, the story about his attack did win an Imaginary Award.
How I wrote it:
I picked this topic to write a joke about because the mass media are still covering the Jussie Smollett controversy enthusiastically. That’s a good indication that a mass audience would enjoy a joke on the topic; if a topic is uninteresting, people are less likely to pay attention to a joke about it and therefore less likely to laugh.
Once I had the topic, I identified two handles in it: “Jussie Smollett” and “NAACP.” Interesting associations of Jussie Smollett that I thought most people would agree with were things like “hoax” and “scam.”
So I wanted to use Punch Line Maker #1–Link two associations of the topic–by coming up with an alternate meaning for the initials NAACP that says “hoax.” That way I could finish the joke something like this: “But he did win a big award from that other NAACP, the [INSERT HOAXY MEANING HERE].” But after thinking about it for a minute or so I couldn’t come up with a good way to fill in the blank.
Then I turned my attention to a different topic handle, “Image Awards.” It occurred to me that “image” sounds kind of like “imaginary,” which is associated with “hoax.” That insight allowed me to use Punch Line Maker #4–“Find a play on words in the topic”–to link Jussie Smollett to the Image Awards in a surprising way and, I hoped, get a laugh.