In this article: How to Re-Write Jokes: Rehearsal – Fix 6, I’ll demonstrate how making the wording more conversational and adding emotions during the rehearsal helps create a more personalized joke.
In my previous articles, How to Re-Write Jokes: Fix 1–5, I’ve taken a badly written joke and showed how to shorten the setups and punches, and then added several tags.
Here’s the original joke:
“I’m very upset because last week my wife of eleven years eloped with my best pal. I miss him more than I miss her.”
And the rewritten joke with tags:
Setup: (UPSET) “My wife ran off with my best friend.”
Punch: “I miss him.”
Tag 1: “I mean the dog.”
Tag 2: “But I’ll never again have to clean up after her.”
Tag 3: “Or him.”
This is a tighter version, yet for me it’s a bit stodgy. To solve this, I’m going to say it out loud a few times and record how it comes out of my mouth.
First, I must get into the state of mind by being – upset. Then I’ll allow myself to say it several time and in several different ways.
Here’s what I discovered:
In the setup, I found myself saying, “My wife just ran off with my best friend.” When I said, “just,” it made it feel more urgent.
Next, for the punch, “I miss him,” I found it to be too formal, so I went through it several times and began saying, “Boy, do I miss him.” A few words longer, but the reveal “him” is still at the end.
For Tag 1, “I mean the dog,” worked just fine when I said it in relation to the punch, except I said, “my dog,” instead of “the dog.” Losing “my dog” is more personally painful, so I’ll keep it that way.
Tag 2, “But I’ll never again have to clean up after her.” It felt forced. I think the change from the subject of Tag 1 of – dog, to the subject – cleaning up after my wife is unclear.
Here’s a discarded version I discovered while experimenting with these two tags:
Tag 2: So, I’ll never again have to clean up my wife’s mess.”
Tag 3: “Or the dog’s.”
The best I came up with was, “But at least, I’ll never again have to clean up after her.” Just by adding “at least” communicates to the audience I’m again talking about my wife.
Tag 3, “Or him,” is so simple that it works.
Here’s what I’ve ended up with:
Setup: (UPSET) “My wife just ran off with my best friend.”
Punch: “Boy, do I miss him.”
Tag 1: “I mean my dog.”
Tag 2: “But at least, I’ll never again have to clean up after her.”
Tag 3: “Or him.”
You may not agree with my choices or even find this bit funny. So be intelligent enough to put your judgments aside and concentrate on these techniques for re-writing jokes.
Now it’s time to go out and perform it. After that, we’ll see if it needs a Fix 7.