According to Reuters, sanctions are really hurting the Russian economy. Things are so bad that to save money commuting to work, some Russian oligarchs are yacht-pooling.
How I wrote it:
I wanted to write a joke that was related in some way to the war in Ukraine because it’s a huge news story. But I didn’t want to call the audience’s attention to the tragic aspects of the war. So I decided to write a joke about a secondary aspect–the sanctions on Russian oligarchs.
I had seen news stories about how the Russian oligarchs travel around in enormous superyachts. I thought that the idea of a superyacht being a mode of transportation was potentially funny. So I brainstormed ways to put a surprising twist on that idea.
To do that, I brainstormed associations of “transportation” and came up with “carpooling.” Then I linked that association to “yacht,” creating the punch line “yacht-pooling.”
Now I had a punch line. But I had to create the rest of the joke, the topic and the angle. Usually I start writing a joke from a topic, but not always, as in this case.
To create a topic I asked myself, who carpools? People often carpool to save money. So I needed a topic that said that Russian oligarchs are under financial pressure. An online search yielded the Reuters story that I pressed into service as my topic.
My Joke Maximizer #4 advises, “Make everything clear,” and the weird expression “yacht-pooling” could potentially confuse an audience. To minimize confusion, I included the phrase “to save money commuting to work” in the angle. That phrase makes it easier for the audience to make the mental connection to carpooling when they hear the punch line.