Former Head Writer of the Tonight Show Picks His Joke of the Week
Winner: Sam Gordon, Follow her on Comedywire
Setup: George H. W. Bush Celebrates 94th Birthday, Becoming the Longest Living President in U.S. History
Punch Line: Little known fact, but George H. W. Bush is so old, he was the Bush that Moses talked to.
To write this great joke, Sam used Punch Line Maker #4: Find a play on words in the topic.
She started by identifying two handles of the topic, the attention-getting elements “Bush” and “very old.” Then she brainstormed associations of each handle that she could link together in a surprising way.
Realizing that “bush” is a good candidate for wordplay because the word has at least two different meanings, Sam could have searched for a link by asking herself, “What’s the oldest bush I can think of?” That question could have prompted the answer “the burning bush in the Bible,” which became the basis of her punch line.
Notice that the Biblical bush is usually referred to as the “burning bush.” But saying “burning bush” would have led to an on-the-nose punch line like “He’s so old, he was the burning bush in the Bible.” So Sam used Joke Maximizer #11 — Don’t be too on-the-nose — and introduced Moses into the punch line to specify which bush she was referring to.
Sam also used Joke Maximizer #8 — Wildly exaggerate — when she said that Bush is not just very old, he’s old enough to be in the Bible. And she provided a sturdy lead-in to her punch line that includes the classic angle, “He’s so old that…”