How to craft a joke:
1) Identify the Target.
A. What Sucks? B. What’s Extreme? C. What’s out of place?
2) Apply a treatment: A. Misunderstanding (Content or Intent) i.e. “So What you’re saying is… the files are in the computer?” B. Reversal “In Capitalist America Bank robs you”. C. Understate/Overstate i.e. Soaking wet: “Lovely Weather Outside”.
3) Apply a lens: A. Heartless Bastard (Mr. Burns) B. Clueless Jackass (Homer Simpson) C. The Prize (The Todd from Scrubs).
There are other lenses (Archetypes) through which to see. Essentially they come from Greek comedies or Comedia Del’arte. Each of the targets, treatments, and lenses can be combined and played with.
So, if I know this, you must be wondering what jokes I’ve created using the formula. Well, I’m annoyed at the grocery store getting asked for donations. Here’s my answer to one:
“No, I would not like to donate to Sick Kids Hospital. More money means a bigger hospital. A bigger hospital means more kids in the hospital. What kind of sicko wants more kids in the hospital? Not me.”
Subject: Grocery Shopping
Target: What sucks? Denying charity donations, the worst of which being Sick Kids.
Treatment: Misunderstanding Intent
Lens: Clueless Jackass + Heartless Bastard
And that’s how you tell a joke. I’m currently crafting another…
“This trans-kid trend is very troubling. I mean, think how hard it must be for pedophiles in this day in age? They go through all the trouble of tracking down, befriending and abducting a kid, get them all the way to their “Play Pen” And when they finally undress the kid, they’re the wrong gender! And imagine how upsetting it is for the kid. They’re not even the right toys!”
This one’s a lot more complicated, but the same rules apply.
There you go, everyone!
How To Tell a Joke.