This exercise is tied in with the instructional article Write the Joke; Not the Joke Concept. In that piece we tried to show the difference between the joke concept and the joke. (If you haven’t read the instructional article, you might go back and read it now in order to better understand this exercise.
We claimed there that the concept had within it the potential for several solid jokes. This practice session offers a chance to sharpen your skills in converting a joke concept into powerful jokes.
Below are listed 10 joke concepts. What we suggest is that you select maybe one or two of these each day, and find the gags that are embedded in that idea or an idea closely related to it. That will give you one or two weeks of practice sessions. However, when you exhaust the concepts we’ve listed, you can come up with some of your own and follow the same process.
Here are the concepts:
I’m an old man. Anything you’ve ever heard of . . . I’m older than it.
My wife is such a bad driver, when you see her coming, it’s best to go indoors.
They say all babies are cute and irresistible. I wasn’t.
I have the kind of body that everyone laughs at.
I know I have to go on a diet. My talking scale told me so.
Even when I say something correct, My Mother-in-Law corrects me.
My Mother-in-Law has the personality of a pissed off boa constrictor.
Being my wife is my wife’s hobby. Shopping is her occupation.
If I see a parking place, I take it. Who knows, someday I may have a car.
Traffic is so congested in my town, all the major roads have a waiting list.
Take them in any order you wish. And do as many jokes based on the concept as you can. We recommend getting a half-dozen gags for each.
Just as a reminder and an illustration, take a look at this joke concept and the jokes it might have generated:
Concept: When I was a kid, I went to a tough school.
I went to a tough school. The kids in our school would steal lunch money from the teachers.
When we had fire drills, we used real fire.
Everyone was scared. The Principal only came out of his office on Groundhog’s Day.
When they called my Mother to school, she’d always arranged to meet them half-way.
We didn’t have a “Honor List.” Getting your picture on a Wanted Poster was reward enough.
It was good training, though. When I finally did get accepted into college, I majored in “detention.”
One kid correctly answered the question “Who killed Abraham Lincoln?” The rest of the class beat him up for being a “stoolie.”
That’s the idea. Have fun with the exercise and see if it doesn’t sharpen your skills at turning out more and better gags.