People are desperate. They want to know if they’re eligible. They’re trying to get on the list, waiting in long lines, sleeping in their cars. They all want to get one before the supply runs out. Yes, I’m talking about Presidential pardons.
How I wrote it:
I got the idea for this joke while I read the newspaper at breakfast; yes, I get home delivery of a physical paper, to supplement all the news I read online.
On the front page was a story about how states were having problems distributing the Covid-19 vaccine. Right below that was a story about how President Trump was preparing a long list of people to pardon.
And a connection between those two adjacent stories popped into my head: the idea of people lining up to get something valuable. So I had the idea for a punch line.
I could have built out that idea into a shorter joke, something like “People are waiting in long lines to get the Covid-19 vaccine. The bad news is, the lines are even longer to get a pardon from President Trump.”
But I thought the joke would be more surprising, and funnier, if I extended the misdirection of the angle by exaggerating the lengths that desperate people were going to.
The finished joke felt like one that other writers might come up with. So I posted it on Twitter, Facebook, and this website around 9:30 am, hours before I usually post my daily joke.
Sure enough, later that day a Facebook friend alerted me to a New Yorker cartoon that, according to Google, appeared online a few hours after I had posted my joke.
Did that cartoonist swipe my idea? No. All creators of topical comedy see the same news and use the same techniques to write jokes. So it’s no surprise when two writers independently come up with the same one.
For more on that phenomenon, read how Seth Meyers Did Not Steal My Joke.