Writing jokes helps me break out of my personal habitual language patterns…which just happens to be one of my habituated language patterns… as is, ‘which just happens to be one of my habitual language patterns’ too.
Bill Hicks once said “I don’t do drugs…anymore.”
‘Anymore’ creates the second story in our minds that he ‘did once do drugs’. It’s that simple; and the pattern becomes transferrable to another context. The punchline of ‘anymore’ creates a reveal based on a difference between the present and the past.
Taking this idea of the ‘one word punch’ further, my mate John Gower gave me the punchline to this joke I delivered in my early days of stand-up training in San Francisco…
Set up: Americans are amazing. They’ve done amazing things.
I mean, they even put a man on the moon…
In this way, a single word like ‘allegedly’ acts in a similar way to ‘anymore’ – negating or adjusting what went before it. In the case of the moon landings, it is intended to throw up connections you have to doubts about the event – and how Director Stanley Kubrick was paid to fake them in a studio etc.
Keep your ears open for one word punches, they may come in handy one day.