Write A Funny Line — Toaster Contest

I enjoyed a recent Allen Kline newsletter, Mid-Month Mirth Memo.  He stimulated my creativity.  He had a list of jokes on a theme.  Here was one of them.

If Xerox made toasters, you could toast one-side or double-sided.
And successive slices would get lighter and lighter.

Check out his Ezine at humor@allenklein.com

My brain immediately went into motion creating some of my own funny lines on the same theme.

If Web designers made toasters, they would include pop-ups.

If the federal government made toasters, they would come with 500 pages of instructions and cost $1800.

If McDonalds made toasters, every child under six would want one.

If Kentucky Fried Chicken made toasters, every slice would come out extra crispy.

If Philip Morris made toasters, as soon as you plug it in, it would start smokin’.

If Las Vegas made toasters, you’d lose your bread but have fun anyway.

Successful comedy writers usually set a quota for the number of jokes they will write on a specific subject. 

Some of the jokes will be good.  Some will be really bad.  A few will be great.  It is a numbers game.  Usually the longer you write, the more gems will pop into your head.  And you will find that meeting your quota gets easier every time you sit down to write.
 
I can easily write ten lines on almost any theme.  Last year, the President of my Toastmasters Club had a cartoon caption writing contest every meeting.  I always submitted ten captions.  One meeting I told him, “I could just as easily write 30 captions.”  So the next week I submitted thirty.  I could probably write 100.  The first time you do 30 sit-ups, it may seem a challenge.  By continuing to exercise on a regular basis, you will soon be doing 300 of them, without great effort.

And now the contest:

1. Put on your thinking cap.

2. Challenge yourself with a quota of ten humor lines which will fit the “If BLANK made toasters…” format.
 
3. Then pick out your best lines and compare them to the lines listed later in this post.

4. Happy writing!

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We had a great contest with 141 entries.  The quality of the humor writing was excellent.  The challenge was to write funny lines on the theme: *If BLANK made toasters…* 

Here are our top jokes:

First Place Winner
If financial planners made toasters, the bread would pop up and down but turn out just fine in 5 – 10 years.
Nancy Lininiger

Second Place
If Social Security made toasters, we’d worry if there would be enough people to put bread in when we want toast out.
Terry Wall

Third Place (tie)
If telemarketers made toasters, they would ONLY work in the middle of your dinner.
Bob Minott

Third Place (tie)
If a religious figure made toasters, they would be made for prophet.
Sharon Janis

Honorable Mention (in random order)

If casino moguls made toasters you’d put in two slices of bread and get back one.

If Wyle E. Coyote made toasters they’d char the the user instead of the bread.

If bread made toasters, they would sell them as “portable tanning salons”.

If Cinderella made a toaster at 12pm it would turn into a deluxe oven.

If Bob Barker made a toaster the “price would be right.”

If CPAs made toasters, every crumb would count.

If cats made toasters, the bread would come out only when it wanted to.

If Al Gore made toasters, he would claim to have invented them.

If Martha Stewart made toasters they would be a good thing.

If Harley Davidson made toasters, they would be noisy & expensive & need frequent repairs, and only the coolest people would buy them.

If Microsoft made toasters, the first year they would cost $5000, but every year after a better one would come out for half the price and half the size of the previous year – everyone would buy one – and by 2010 we would have personal, hand-held toasters that we could not live without!

If Baptists made toasters they’d all be waterproof – for total immersion.

If Barbie made toasters they would be labeled: “Toast goes in here”.

If Kellogg made toasters they would snap, crackle and pop.

If the military made toasters they would have a 100 year surplus in
warehouses throughout the country.

If an OB clinic made toasters they would take 9 months to toast an 8 pound loaf of bread

If Q (from Bond Movies) made toasters they would look like something else and they would explode in the wrong hands.

If the US Airways baggage handlers made toasters, your toast would end up in Cleveland. 

If Las Vegas made toasters, you’d have to put in a LOT of bread before any came back.

If the Mafia made toasters you would have to give them your bread or you’re toast.

If military contractors made toasters, they would coast $18,000 each, weigh 172 pounds, and burn the toast EVERY TIME!

Observations from the judging:

1. The judging panel consisted of thirteen members (improv players and Toastmasters attending a humor workshop).

2. The quality of the jokes was excellent.  The judges were often laughing out loud while reading the entries.

3. I had each judge rank order their five favorite jokes.  Twenty six jokes received votes. 

4. Reviewing the judging pattern, I came to the conclusion that most judges considered many of the jokes to be funny and very close in quality, making it hard to make a quality differentiation between one joke and another.

5. Only one joke ranked in the top five jokes of at least half the judges.  It was the winning joke and received votes from seven of the thirteen judges. 

6. I also concluded that appreciation of humor is a very personal and subjective thing.

7. Congratulations to those who submitted.  Excellent work.

Some useful humor techniques that were used in creating the Toaster jokes:

1. The key is finding relationships:  Things that are similar and different between items, words, concepts, and categories.

2. Finding a common link:  Financial Planners and Toasters, connecting stocks and toast going up and down.  Social Security connecting input/output.

3. Finding differences:  The short length of time to make toast compared to the long time for financial

investments to mature.  Telemarketers work at dinner and toasters work at breakfast.  Length of time to make toast versus making a baby.

4. Similar sounds:  Toasters made for prophet (profit).

5. Playing with double meaning of words:  Every crumb would COUNT (addition versus significance).

6. Looking for a twist with a what-if:  What if BREAD made toasters. A very clever choice which leads to humor choices.

7. Connecting toasters with common marketing slogans:  The price is right.  Snap Crackle Pop. 

8. Connection with something funny from the past:  Al Gore inventing toasters.

9. Laying the qualities of one category onto another:  Microsoft, Harley-Davidson, the Military, and many other examples.

10. These are not the only principles involved in making these jokes tick, there are others.  Just remember that the common key is to look for the connections and relationships which trigger and activate the joke.  The better you understand that principle, the easier it will be for you to write funnier material.