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February 15, 2016

A Joke Formula: the Difference

What's the difference between X and Y? D, Z.

Take two things or subjects in mind that usually don't go together or are each others opposite. Let's call them X and Y. Now try to formulate some of the main differences - D1, D2, etc. - between them. Then try to formulate why and how these differences relate to each other; Z (non-sense is allowed).

The purpose of this formula is - positively worded - to foster creativity and highlight unexpected relations between things. Here's an example:

"What's the difference between a tea bag and a tampon?"
"I don't know."
"I'm not having tea again at your house."

A formula alone does not garuantee a good joke. The style of the formula can be changed, but the surprising contrasting is crucial for the comical effect. To increase the likelihood it is being applied creatively, I think it might be helpful to start with writing down some thoughts and observations with the formula in the back of your mind. Also, these seem to me to be nice additions:

- Pick a familiar subject (don't pick subjects that are too emotional)
- Brainstorm and associate playfully
- Try to write in a conversational style, don't be too analytical
- Keep it short
- Be specific in naming things
- Try to find words with similar sounds, tones or emphasis
- Personalize the wording
- Make it look easy
- Keep an audience in mind