In New York City, there’s a new field hospital for coronavirus patients in Central Park. It has the squirrels so concerned that they’re rubbing Purell on their nuts.
How I wrote it:
This news item caught my eye because it had to do with Central Park. More on that later.
To write the joke I used my Punch Line Maker #1: Link two associations of the topic. One topic handle, “coronavirus,” has the association “Purell.” The other topic handle, “Central Park,” has the association “squirrels.”
My punch line links those two associations by stating that the squirrels are rubbing Purell on either their food or their genitals, depending on how you interpret the wordplay.
This joke is a tribute to the Central Park squirrel jokes that Dave Letterman often told in his “Late Show” monologue. This joke is typical: “It was so hot in Central Park today, I saw a squirrel rubbing sunblock on his nuts.”
For more of Dave’s squirrel jokes, here’s a short video of celebrities retelling some of them:
Part of the fun of Dave’s squirrel jokes is that “nuts,” in the context of the joke, can often only mean “genitals.” For example, nuts such as acorns don’t need sunblock no matter how hot it is.
But I like the fact that in my joke, the wordplay punch line really does have a double meaning. In this pandemic, people are not only rubbing Purell on parts of their body, but also on objects they touch frequently. So in the case of anthropomorphic squirrels, those objects could conceivably include the food they’ve gathered.