A big crowd watched two women fighting over a video game console at a Walmart in North Carolina. Two women in a Walmart fighting over a video game console…or as they call it in North Carolina, the Annual Christmas Pageant.
How I wrote it:
I used my Punch Line Maker #1: Link two associations of the topic. But in doing so I relied on two handles of the topic that may not be immediately obvious.
The first handle was the whole brawl in the Walmart, including all its details. When I read this news item in mid-December I scornfully associated the brawl with the idea that it was “a typical Christmas scene.”
The second handle of the topic was “Christmas,” which wasn’t explicitly mentioned in the news item. Still, “Christmas” was an element of the story because the brawl clearly occurred during the women’s holiday shopping. And one association of the handle “Christmas” is “Christmas pageant.”
So I created a punch line that links the brawl to Christmas through the idea of an annual Christmas pageant.
Then I used my Joke Maximizer #1: Shorten as much as possible. I took out all the details in the news item that weren’t necessary to make the joke work: I omitted the facts that the Walmart was near Charlotte, that the video game console was a PlayStation 5, and that a video of the incident had gone viral.
But I added the detail that a crowd watched the fight. I thought it would help guide the audience for the joke toward the punch line’s idea that the Walmart customers were watching a performance.
Even after I shortened the topic it still included a lot of details. So I wrote an angle that repeated the most important ones, to clarify that the punch line referred to the whole brawl and not just one or two details of it.