tag jokes

How to Tag Jokes – Pattern 2: Based on a Different Setup Assumption

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tag jokes

In this article, How to Tag Jokes – Pattern 2: Use a Different Setup Assumption, I’ll show how a tag can be created by identifying a different assumption from the setup.

In my previous article, How to Tag Jokes – Pattern 1: Reuse the Same Target Assumption, I discussed writing a tag by using the same assumption and connector used in the joke’s punch.

Reminder: 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.

Here’s the joke:

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

Let’s recap the structure of this joke and tag:

          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.

          1st Tag: “Made it easy to throw him off the cliff.”

If you don’t remember how we got here, then review the article, How to Tag Jokes – Pattern 1: Reuse the Same Target Assumption until this is clear.

Pattern 2: Use a Different Setup Assumption

For this pattern we’ll continue by adding another tag to the tag. Since we’re going to use a different Setup assumption as Target Assumption for the 2nd Tag. Remember, the Punch and 1st Tag both use the Target Assumption that “took out” means he took his father to dinner, we know we’re not going to use that one.

Let’s investigate to find another assumption in the Setup:

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

          Assumptions: He took his father to dinner (used)
                                           Father is the biological dad
                                           Father is alive
                                           Father is male
                                           They get along
                                           Son paid for the dinner

There are many more, but that’s enough for this demonstration.

I’ll choose as the new Target Assumption that the father was his biological dad.

Next, from the Setup, let’s find the Connector by asking “What in the Setup cause me to make the Target Assumption?” The answer is pretty obvious, it’s the word, “father.”

We know the Target Assumption’s meaning of the Connector that the father was his biological dad. To write a 2nd Tag we need to create or uncover a different meaning of the Connector “father” to have a Reinterpretation. What are some other meanings of the word “father?”

          Reinterpretations: priest
                                                     God
                                                     Father Time
                                                     founding fathers
                                                     sounds like farther

For the 2nd Tag’s Reinterpetation, I’ll select priest. All that’s left is to write this idea into a punch. It must clearly express to the audience that he’s not talking about his dad, but instead his priest. This must also be done in the context of the previous Setup, Punch, and 1st Tag.

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

Here’ are a few:

          Tags: “I always hated how he said mass.”
                        “And that’s what he got for molesting me as an alter boy.”
                        “That’s how I said, ‘Bye, bye to my priest.’”

There are more punches, but at some point I need to end this article, so I’ll choose “I always hated how he said mass” as the 2nd Tag.

Let’s unpack the entire bit:

          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.

          1st Tag: “Made it easy to throw him off the cliff.”


          Target Assumption: father was his biological dad.

          Connector: “father”

          2nd Tag: “I always hated how he said mass.”

Note how the 2nd Tag shatters a different Target Assumption created by the original Setup.

We might even be able to use the other tags I wrote as another Tag. This is the reason it’s so important to understand these patterns for writing Tags. Get to know them well.

In my next article, How to Tag Jokes – Pattern 3: Use an Assumption Created by the Punch, I’ll demonstrate how the punch has its own assumptions for writing more tags.

If you have a question about joke writing or stand-up comedy, send it to gregdeancomedy@gmail.com. Please ask only one question and put “Question” in the subject line.

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