Jeff Bezos, the former CEO of Amazon, is investing in a startup that’s trying to extend human life. He says the work is very important to him: The more years you live, the more annual membership fees you’ll pay for Amazon Prime.
How I wrote it:
This news item seemed like a good candidate for my Punch Line Maker #1: Link two associations of the topic. That’s because both topic handles, “Amazon” and “extend human life,” seemed to have enough associations to link.
“Extend human life” has the association “live more years.” So I brainstormed associations of the other topic handle, “Amazon,” that have to do with yearly events.
That’s how I thought of paying a membership fee to Amazon Prime every year. And that association fit with most people’s belief that Amazon is very eager to make money. So I decided to base my punch line on a connection between living longer and paying more fees to Amazon.
My Joke Maximizer #1 is “Shorten as much as possible.” And the joke might have worked with a shorter angle like “That makes sense.” But instead I went with “He says the work is very important to him.” That angle heightens the surprise, and the funniness, of the punch line: the audience is led to expect that Bezos has altruistic motives, but it turns out his motives are mercenary.
The joke also might have worked if I had left “the former CEO of Amazon” out of the topic. But I decided to mention Amazon in the topic because otherwise I wasn’t sure that the whole audience would immediately connect Bezos with Amazon when they heard the punch line.