Today McDonald’s said it’s closing all its restaurants in Russia because of Ukraine. Is that a good idea? If McDonald’s really wants to hurt the Russians it should open up more restaurants, hand out free artery-clogging fries and Big Macs, attack the Russians from the inside.
How I wrote it:
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a huge news story, so I didn’t think I could ignore it. At the same time, it’s a difficult story to write jokes about because large numbers of innocent people are dying and getting displaced. If an audience is thinking about those tragic facts, they won’t laugh.
To write jokes about a high-profile but upsetting topic, a useful technique is to steer clear of the most disturbing aspects of the topic. So if the topic is Russia invading Ukraine, a joke writer wouldn’t remind the audience of all the death and destruction.
Instead, the writer would focus on a secondary, less-upsetting aspect of the topic. In this case, I noticed that McDonald’s is closing all its restaurants in Russia.
Now I had a topic somewhat related to Russia’s invasion that I thought the audience would let me joke about. So I used my Punch Line Maker #1: Link two associations of the topic.
One handle of the topic is “McDonald’s,” which I associate with “unhealthful food.” The other topic handle is “Russia,” which nowadays I associate with “needs to be attacked.” I linked those two associations in a punch line that suggests using McDonald’s food to attack the Russians.
In editing the joke I used my Joke Maximizer #9–Get specific. I did that by listing particular menu items instead of just writing “unhealthful food.”
And when I chose those menu items I employed my Joke Maximizer #7–Use stop consonants, alliteration, and assonance. “Hand out free artery-clogging fries and Big Macs” has nine stop consonants, a lot for only twelve syllables.