Since our topic is lists, let’s start with a short list of the reasons that I hate getting sick:
- No chicken soup flavored penicillin
- It’s entirely unfair that I should have this many aches and pains and no fond memories of a previous night of drinking and debauchery.
- My plague-phobic friends will visit only if I wear a rubber glove over my entire body.
- My doctor bill is larger than the GDP of Zambia.
- My new talking thermometer keeps saying, “Holy Crap!”
Regardless, I’ve now recovered, so let’s talk about lists.
People generally like lists. You’ll find them in almost all magazines, which entice you to buy with teaser headlines on the cover, such as:
- Ten Ways to Steal Your Skinny Friend’s Thighs
- Five Tasty Mouthwashes That Are Mostly Alcohol
- Seven Totally Snarky Eye Shadow Reviews
- Eight Diets That May Cause Shooting Rampages
- Ten Mugshots That Were Worse Than The Crime
And of course, most of you will remember David Letterman‘s Top Ten List on the Late Show. Originally, the Top Ten List was simply a way to add ten more jokes to the show. However, it was an almost immediate hit with viewers and became a regular feature. Many people tuned in just for the lists!
It’s obvious that lists have comedy potential. However, lists are also helpful when you need to write a joke. Lists can help you form relationships, many of which are not immediately obvious. Granted, this can be a bit tedious, but if it produces great results, it’s worth a few minutes of effort. Let’s look at an example:
First, pick a topic. Let’s use: Housework
Next, list headings related to your topic, such as:
Now, list everything that you can think of under each heading. For this example, we’ll only use the Kitchen and Tools lists:
- wash dishes
- clean oven
- put away groceries
- mop floor
- mop and bucket
- spray cleaner
- oven cleaner
- sponges, rags
Looking over the lists, there’s nothing immediately funny about any of the entries.
The relationships are there. You just need to twist them a bit.
Under the heading Kitchen, “cooking” can be related to all of the entries under Tools. Are any of these funny?
- Cooking + sink = When you need a really large mixing bowl that’s easy to clean.
- Cooking + mop and bucket = I love butter. When I’m cooking, I baste with a rag mop. I get my cholesterol checked by the EPA.
- Cooking + cleanser = If you want a really good tasting tomato sauce, don’t store the sea salt next to the cleanser.
- Cooking + spray cleaner = Salad just doesn’t taste the same ever since they put olive oil in a spray can that looks so much like Windex.
- Cooking + oven cleaner = You need to preheat the oven to bake a chicken, and you need to preheat to use oven cleaner. However, in my experience, this is not a good time to multitask.
- Cooking + sponges, rags = The recipe said to tie the turkey’s legs together, so I finally found a use for that dish rag.
There are two certainties using the list method. One, you will not be able to write a line for every relationship. Two, not all of your jokes will be killers. However, using lists to jumpstart your relationship engine, you WILL generate more great jokes.
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