Today health products maker Johnson & Johnson said it’s racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine. Also, because of social distancing, it changed its name to Johnson…………&…………Johnson.
How I wrote it:
This news item attracted my attention because Johnson & Johnson makes a lot of consumer products that I thought could be linked to some coronavirus association to create a punch line.
But looking at the company’s name led me to consider using my Punch Line Maker #5: Visualize the topic. I adopted a different perspective on “Johnson & Johnson,” imagining each “Johnson” to be a literal human being.
Then I brainstormed associations of the other topic handle, “coronavirus,” which led to “social distancing.” I linked that association to the idea of each “Johnson” being a literal person to create the punch line, which puts social distance between each Johnson in the company’s name.
Finally, I added an angle that explicitly mentions social distancing. That way the angle would make the punch line clear (Joke Maximizer #4) without telegraphing it (Joke Maximizer #5).
I write my jokes to be spoken, and when I came up with this punch line I imagined that the speaker would deliver it by inserting long pauses between the elements of the laugh trigger.
But as I thought about it more, I realized that I could achieve the same effect in print by using long lines of dots. Sometimes a joke, like a wordplay joke, will only work in print and not when spoken. But this joke isn’t one of them.