The Basic Rules

There are thousands of phrases that lend themselves to this simple truth construction. The basic rule is that the first part or first sentence is a cliché. The second part (the punch line) is an unexpected interpretation that's realistically literal.

Doctor: I don't like the looks of your husband.

Wife: Neither do I, doctor, but he's good to the children.

Boss to employee: I'd thank you, Harrison, but, as you know, yours is a thankless job. — Frank Modell

As your mind gets more practice, your ear will amplify countless opportunities to make humor using the simple truth technique.

Wife: You never look out for me!

Husband: Of course, I do. And when I see you coming, I run like hell.

The president of the synagogue addressed the congregation:

"Lefkowitz just lost his wallet with six hundred dollars in it. If anyone finds it, Lefkowitz said he'd give a reward of fifty dollars." A voice in the rear: "I'll give seventy-five!"

Clerk to judge: The bar association wondered if you'd like to contribute ten dollars to a lawyer's funeral? Judge: Here's a hundred. Bury ten of them.

Quality humor doesn't just deliver one gag and then tax the audience's patience developing a new setup. Once you've got the audience laughing or on a roll, it's better to stay with toppers—a series of punch lines, each related to the previous one. Here are two examples, the first uses one simple truth pay off and the second tops the same story with a second simple truth punch line. The length of the pause between the two punch lines is a matter of judgment which separates the amateur from the pro.

The forest ranger approached an Indian riding his horse up the steep canyon trail, his aged squaw trudging slowly along behind him. "Chief, I've been noticing for months now that you always ride up the trail and your wife always walks. How come?"

"Because," said the Indian solemnly, "she no gottum horse."

Here's the topper version of the same story. Note how the change in locale keeps the simple truth relationship realistic:

During World War II in North Africa, a Gl approached an Arab who was riding his donkey along the military highway. His aged wife trudged along ahead of him. "Hey, Abdul," said the Gl, "I've been noticing for months that you always ride and your wife always walks. How come?" "Because," said the Arab, "she no got donkey." "But why does she always walk ahead of you? Arab politeness?" "No! Land mines."

Research reports and statistics are excellent sources for simple truth humor material.

If a single dolphin has as many as two thousand babies, can you imagine how many she'd have if she were married?

Married daughter to mother on phone: "Ma, I gave birth to triplets. Isn't that exciting? You know triplets are conceived only once in every three million times!" "My heavens, Deborah, when did you have time to do housework?"

Prof: Every fifteen minutes in the U.S. some student is contracting VD.

Coed: I think I know him.

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