Yesterday “King Richard” Oscar-winner Will Smith apologized to Chris Rock for slapping him in the face at the Academy Awards. Smith also apologized to Venus and Serena Williams for not following-through on his forehand.
How I wrote it:
I wanted to write a joke about this news item because it featured a topic handle, The Slap, that a lot of people were interested in. The handle also had a lot of associations that I could turn into punch lines.
Because the video of The Slap was so memorable, I gravitated to my Punch Line Maker #5: Visualize the topic. I thought about Smith slapping Rock and brainstormed about what that slapping motion resembled.
As I did, I remembered that Smith, another topic handle, had won an Oscar for portraying the father of two tennis superstars. I also remembered that tennis players are associated with the forehand stroke. When I realized that Smith’s slapping motion resembled a tennis forehand, I decided to link those two motions in a punch line.
To make the punch line work, I did some editing to my rough draft. My Joke Maximizer #6 is “Make the punch line parallel.” So I had Smith apologizing to people in the punch line for something he did, the same way he apologized to someone in the topic for something he did.
My Joke Maximizer #4 is “Make everything clear.” So I added to the topic a reference to “King Richard.” I wanted to make sure the audience immediately got the connection between the Williams sisters in the punch line and Will Smith.
I realized that my punch line implies that Smith wasn’t very serious in his apology to Rock. But I thought my audience would accept that implication. That’s because Smith apologized to other people at the Oscars, but not Rock.