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How to Write a Joke – Step Three
This is the third part of the series on how to write a joke.
We know the first part of a joke is a set-up. And the second element is a punch line.
The third element of a joke is a tag line. This is any laugh line after the original punch line. Tags are optional. A joke can have many tags, or it may have none at all. It is all up to the comedian. The audience will let you know if you take a joke too far or beat it into the ground.
Often times, you will “find” a tag for your jokes while you are on stage. As the audience is laughing you will think of what may be funny to say next.
In any case, a tag line should do one of the following
• Take the logic of the premise further / deeper
• Offer an opinion or angle from another source
• Reflect the audiences response
PREMISE: “We just spent three days baby-proofing the house.
PUNCH LINE: But she still got back in.
TAG LINE: She found that doggy door in the garage.”
PREMISE: “I gave up alcohol when the drink names started sounding like medical conditions.
PUNCH LINE: I don’t want a Tropical Itch, Mind Eraser or a Corpse Reviver.
TAG LINE: But while I’m here – you got anything for a fuzzy naval?”
PREMISE: “Scientists have developed methods for animals to connect on the web called the Inter-Species Internet.
PUNCH LINE: The last thing I want to worry about is slamming into a texting Gecko –
TAG LINE 1: who probably has better insurance than I do.
TAG LINE 2: Or being Googled by a gorilla.
PREMSE: “I just spent four hours scraping ice off my car.
PUNCH LINE: And it turned out to be someone else’s.
TAG LINE: I’m an idiot, I don’t even drive a truck.”
PREMISE: “At my 20 year reunion a classmate asked if I had had any ‘work done’ on my face.
PUNCH LINE: I said ‘YES! I reduced my hairline, enlarged the forehead and opted for the Steve Buscemi eye transplant.
TAG LINE: What part of me looks like it has had work DONE?
Each of these jokes contain:
• a concise statement in the premise
• an unpredictable twist in the punch line
• and a tag line that takes the joke a little further
I hope this three part series has been helpful!
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