Senator Mitch McConnell called President Biden’s decision to cancel some student debt “a slap in the face to working Americans.” McConnell said the decision is so bad it’s like working Americans told a joke about Will Smith’s wife.
How I wrote it:
I decided to write a joke about the student debt cancellation because it was big news. Plus a lot of people seemed to have an opinion about it.
But that meant the story was tricky to write a joke about because if my joke expressed an opinion about it, a lot of my audience might disagree with that opinion and not laugh.
So I dug deeper into the debt cancellation story and noticed the McConnell quote about a slap. My mind turned to my Punch Line Maker #2: Link the topic to pop culture; I associated “slap” with Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars. That’s how I got the idea for my topic and punch line.
To work out the exact wording of the joke, I thought about it logically. That’s because my Joke Maximizer #4 is “Make everything clear,” which includes the logic of the joke. If, as McConnell said, working Americans got a slap in the face, then my punch line should say that working Americans got slapped by Will Smith.
And if working Americans got slapped by Will Smith, then my joke logic should say they told a joke about his wife.
This is an example of how to write jokes for a mass audience about potentially divisive news stories. Be sure your topics and punch lines are facts, not opinions. In the case of this joke, McConnell’s quote and Smith’s slap are both facts.
Also, if a suitable joke topic isn’t apparent from the headline of the divisive story, keep reading. The detail most useful for a topic, like the slap quote, may not appear until farther down in the story.