tag jokes

How to Tag Jokes – Pattern 1: Reuse the Same Target Assumption

Greg Dean Greg's Blog, How to Write Jokes

tag jokes

To Tag a joke is comic’s slang for adding another Punch after the original Punch, but not using a new Setup. Getting two or more laughs from your initial Setup increases your overall laughs per minute LPMs.

Tags are the road to success. If all you do is Setup and Punch, 95 percent of your time on stage is spent performing the Setups. That means 95 percent of your time is spent not being funny. But if you’re Tagging all your Setups with multiple Punches, you increase your LPMs many fold, and hence, the percentage of time you spend being funny.

If you think of a Setup as an investment of time with the laugh as your payoff, then Tagging a joke is like getting paid again and again for the same investment. With Tags you can laugh all the way to the bank.

Every time you have a completed joke, be it a one-liner or in a story or act out, dig deeper into that experience. By exploring the world of the joke and jumping to different points of view you can find more assumptions to shatter.

There are three patterns to Tag jokes:

Pattern 1: Reuse the Original Target Assumption

Pattern 2: Use a Different Assumption Created by the Setup

Pattern 3: Use an Assumption Created by the Punch

 

For this article I’ll only cover Pattern 1: Reuse the Original Target Assumption, and in the two following articles, I’ll cover the other two patterns.

One more thing, the definition of the Connector is one thing with two interpretations. The Setup’s meaning is the Target Assumption and the Punch’s meaning is the Reinterpretation. Okay, let’s move on.

Pattern 1: Reuse the Original Target Assumption

 

With this one-liner, I’ll show you how to reuse the same Target Assumption and Connector to create a different Reinterpretation to use as a Tag.

     “For Father’s Day, I took my father out … of his cage.”

For the Setup, “For Father’s Day I took my father out,” the Target Assumption is that he took his father to dinner.

Next we search the Setup for the Connector by asking, “What in the Setup cause me to make the Target Assumption?” In this case, the Connector is the phrase “took out.” It’s the thing in the Setup that caused us to make the Target Assumption that he took his father to dinner.

BTW the Connector is not always words or phrases. A Connector can be any thing, but for this article I’ll use semantic Connectors as they’re easier to explain.

Now we investigate the Punch, “of his cage,” to identify the Reinterpretation. To do this we must infer the other meaning of the Connector. Since the Connector is “took out,” we can infer the Reinterpretation is that he removed his father from something.

The Reinterpretation is not “from his cage,” that’s the Punch. The Reinterpretation is simply the unexpected second meaning of the Connector and the idea for the Punch. They are two separate elements.

Remember at their core all jokes have two interpretations of one thing. So, here’s a recap of the structure of our joke:

     Setup: “For Father’s Day I took my father out…

     Target Assumption: he took his father to dinner.

     Connector: “took out”

     Reinterpretation: he removed his father from something.

     Punch: “…of his cage.”

Next I’ll show you how I’ll use the same Target Assumption and Connector to create a different Reinterpretation to write a Tag.

Here’s the original joke and my process for finding a Tag:

     “For Father’s Day I took my father out…of his cage.”

We know the Target Assumption is that he took his father to dinner and the Connector is “took out.” Now it’s as simple as finding another unexpected meaning for the Connector, “took out.”

     Reinterpretations: Remove (used)
                                                Kill
                                                Punch
                                                Date

I’ll select the Reinterpretation, Kill. To write this into a Tag all we need to do is decide how to kill the father and write it. Use your imagination. Here’s my Tag:

     “For Father’s Day I took my father out…of his cage.”
     “Made it easy to throw him off the cliff.”

Let’s unpack this whole process:

     Setup: “For Father’s Day I took my father out…

     Target Assumption: he took his father to dinner.

     Connector: “took out”

     Reinterpretation: he removed his father from something.

     Punch: “…of his cage.”


     Target Assumption: he took his father to dinner.

     Connector: “took out”

     Reinterpretation: he killed his father.

     Tag: “Made it easy to throw him off the cliff.”

Note how the Punch and the Tag shattered the same Target Assumption and that the Reinterpretation was yet another unexpected meaning of the Connector.

Challenge: write a different punch or Tag for the same joke. Post it in the Facebook Group or in my comments.

In my next article, How to Tag Jokes – Pattern 2: Use a Different Assumption Created by the Setup, to show you how to write tag at will.

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, send it to gregdeancomedy@gmail.com. Please ask only one question and put “Question” in the subject line.

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