how to rewrite jokes

How to Re-Write Jokes: Tags – Fix 5

Greg Dean Greg's Blog, How to Be a Comedian, How to Write Jokes

how to rewrite jokes

In this article, How to Re-Write Jokes: Tags – Fix 5, I’ll show how rewriting setups can lead to joke tags.

Here’s the joke we ended up with in How to Re-Write Jokes: Punches – Fix 4.

Here’s the rewritten joke:

(UPSET) “My wife ran off with my best friend. I miss him.”

Now let’s tag this joke. Since, I rewrote the setup with the phrase “best friend” we can use it as a new connector and target assumption to write a tag. Let me take you through this process.

(UPSET) “My wife ran off with my best friend. I miss him.”

Target Assumption: male human.
Connector: “best friend”
Reinterpretation: dog

“Dog” is the obvious reinterpretation, but let’s not stop there. Rewriting jokes is like a Scavenger Hunt in search of more humor. If you ask around you can often find more unexpected things. To search around…ask questions.

For instance:

Q: Who are some of my best friends?
A: mom
     therapist
     my wife’s sister

Q: What are some non-human best friends?
A: weed
     alcohol
     credit cards

Not all of these are going to fit into the narrative of the joke. That’s not the point. My point is the searching for more funny ideas by asking questions. Make it a habit to continuously explore the setup and punch to find a better punch or more tags.

Here’s the first tag using the reinterpretation of “dog.”

Just like punches, tags need to be short, but I can’t just say the word, “dog.” I need to search for some 2nd stories to help express this reinterpretation. Here’s our current joke and three 2nd stories written as tags:

(UPSET) “My wife ran off with my best friend. I miss him.”

1. Tag: “I mean the dog.”

That works. It’s short. The 2nd story clarifies that he misses the – dog and not the target assumption – male human.

2. Tag: “I expected more loyalty from my dog.”

The 2nd story for this tag is about loyalty. I like it, but it’s long. It could work.

3. Tag: “I hope that dog will fetch her back to me.”

With this tag, the 2nd story is about the dog fetching the wife. It’s too long and the reveal – dog is in the middle of the sentence. Not so good.

I like the first one: “I mean the dog.”

Here’s the joke and the tag:

Joke: (UPSET) “My wife ran off with my best friend. I miss him.”
Tag: “I mean the dog.”

But no, we’re still not done. Let’s tag the tag by asking questions.

Q: What won’t I miss about the wife?
A: Cleaning up after her.
Q: What’s a positive about the dog being gone?
A: I won’t have to clean up his poop.

We’ve found another connector – cleaning up after. Let’s write out some tags about this idea.

Tag: “But I’ll never again have to clean up after her.”
Tag: “Or him.”

This came out as two tags. Here’s the bit so far:

Joke: (UPSET) “My wife ran off with my best friend. I miss him.”
Tag: “I mean the dog.”
Tag: “But I’ll never again have to clean up after her.”
Tag: “Or him.”

In the next article: How to Re-Write Jokes: Rehearsal – Fix 6, I’ll show how to make the wording of the joke more conversational and add emotions to the performance.

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