ONCE YOU HAVE A JOKE, YOU CAN ADD MORE PUNCHES. Here’s one way to do that. This technique is actually Steps Three to Five of the Five Steps To Funny process. You use the punchline to your original joke as a setup: look for expectations to shatter, then come up with a substitute expectation and make it into your punchline. For example:

Setup: People often say, ‘David, you’re brave to do stand-up comedy.’
Punch: But they only say it when I’m counselling them.
 
Step One: Your setup is now the punchline, ‘But they only say it when I’m counselling them.

What NBEs [No Brainer Expectations] do you have when you hear the preceding statement?

1. ‘They’ refers to my clients.
2. My clients are paying me.
3. I counsel them in my office.
4. My clients have emotional problems.
 
Step Two: Now choose one of your NBEs and develop a substitution. I’ve chosen expectation #1: ‘They refers to my clients, because this expectation is the most obvious. Who else could ‘they’ refer to?

1. My relatives.
2. My kids.
3. My neighbours.
4. My clinical supervisors.
 
Step Three: Choose one of your substitutions and make it into your punchline. Let’s say I chose substitution #4, that ‘they’ refers to my clinical supervisors.

Setup: People often say, ‘David, you’re brave to do stand-up comedy.’
Punch: But they only say it when I’m counselling them.
Punch #2: And I expect better from my clinical supervisors.
 
Three Steps To Another Punch Example #2

Here’s another example of this process:

Setup: As a comic you have to be able to take rejection.
Punch: Each time you apply for credit.
 
Step One: Since the punch, ‘Each time you apply for credit’ is a sentence fragment that doesn’t make sense on its own, I would use the whole joke as my new setup. So the setup is now:

Setup: As a comic you have to be able to take rejection.
Punch: Each time you apply for credit.

List some NBEs that would arise from the previous statement.

1. I apply for credit from a bank.
2. I don’t make much money.
3. I’m a bad credit risk.
4. I need credit to make a major purchase.
 
Step Two: Now choose one of your NBEs and come up with 3-5 substitutions. Let’s choose expectation #1: I apply for credit from a bank. Who else or where else would I apply for credit?

1. A loan shark.
2. Credit card companies.
3. My parents.
 
Step Three: Choose one of your substitutions and make it into your punchline. I’m going to choose substitution #3, that I ask my parents. Thus the whole joke would be:

Setup: As a comic you have to be able to take rejection.
Punch: Each time you apply for credit.
Punch#2: I’ll have to stop asking my parents.
 
Sacrificing Your Dignity For A Laugh!

Obviously the previous joke doesn’t make me look too good, but in comedy you need to be prepared to sacrifice your dignity for a laugh (and if that doesn’t work, then you can sacrifice the dignity of someone else!)
 
Keep Going!

You can keep adding punchlines by using this process over and over. Just keep making your last punch into your next setup.

— David Granirer

David’s writing can be found via www.psychocomic.com
 
 

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