Doctors in Italy successfully performed brain surgery while the patient remained awake and played the saxophone. The doctors removed a tumor that was causing a debilitating condition known as “malignant Kenny G.”
How I wrote it:
This news item caught my attention because it was so weird. Plus the handles “brain surgery” and “saxophone” seemed to have enough associations to link into a punch line.
I gravitated toward my Punch Line Maker #3—Ask a question about the topic—because the news item begged the question “Why was that surgical patient playing the saxophone?”
To create a punch line that answers that question in a surprising way, I brainstormed associations of “saxophone.” I reasoned that the doctors might have been operating to stop the patient from compulsively playing the saxophone. Maybe the patient was imitating some famous sax player?
I couldn’t immediately think of any sax players so I searched online and turned up Kenny G. He was perfect, because I assumed my audience would agree that even brain surgery would be justified if it meant stopping somebody from playing like Kenny G. So he became the basis of my punch line.
For the actual wording of the punch line, I wanted a concise way to say, “The patient was compulsively imitating Kenny G.” It seemed funny to state that the behavior was caused by a medical condition named after the saxophonist, so I invented one by adding “malignant” to his name.
The surgeons removed a tumor in real life, so I included that fact in my angle because it connected the topic logically to “malignant Kenny G.” And I called the condition “debilitating” to have a little more fun at the expense of Kenny G’s music.
Finally, I made sure to include “successfully” in the topic. That word gives the audience permission to laugh at somebody who had brain surgery.