It’s almost Halloween. Lots of people are rushing out to buy the new costumes. In fact, sales of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi costumes are really blowing up.
How I wrote it:
ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had just killed himself by detonating a suicide vest. Usually if a news story is about somebody dying, that rules the story out as the topic for a joke. Most people would feel too guilty to laugh.
But in this case, the deceased was a truly heinous terrorist, murderer, and serial rapist. Still, I thought that some people in our politically fractured country might be reluctant to laugh at a joke celebrating his death.
So I decided to write an al-Baghdadi joke that relies on facts, not on opinions. As I brainstormed about the facts of his death, the phrase “blow up” popped into my head. Because that phrase can have different meanings, I decided to use my Punch Line Maker #4: Find a play on words in the topic.
I didn’t have a topic yet, so I had to devise one. I thought about other current events and came up with the topic “It’s almost Halloween. Lots of people are rushing out to buy the new costumes.” With that topic, my handle could be “buy the new costumes,” which has the association “sales” and the sub-association “blow up.” And I had the play on words I was after.
Usually you start with a topic when you write a joke, but this time I backed into a topic from my desired punch line.