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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 10/27/2008

The Morning Line: Write Your Own 'Toons for Fun and Profit

By Michael Cavna

Economy got you down? Bills aplenty and stocks a-crashed have you considering that second -- or third -- job? Then it just might be time for you to consider an exciting new career as a Professional Gag Writer.

Sound daunting? Well, p-shaw. Judging by today's "Prickly City," you, too, can write perfectly mediocre, lowest common denominator jokes for profit, if not fun.

Plumbing the depths. (UPS) Enlarge Comic

Simply follow these two easy steps:


Step 1: Scan the headlines and news ticker for the hottest topical buzzwords.

Pick any media-devoured carrion of a word (or words) tripping from every pundit's lips: "ACORN"..."a lipsticked pit bull"..."Joe the Plumber." A viral buzzword that rings with insta-familiarity is like a two-drink minimum at the Improv: The blotto crowd is primed to laugh. [Note: A buzzword's comedic shelf-life is short, though, so strike while the cliche is hot.]

Step 2: Construct a question that can be easily answered with the buzzword.
Question: Hey, Carmen, who got the bigger "bump" from the debate: Obama or McCain?
Answer: Neither -- Joe the Plumber!
[Insert rimshot here.]

Question: Hey, Winslow, who got the bigger "bump" from the debate: Palin or Biden?
Answer: Neither -- Tina Fey!
[Insert double rimshot here.]

See? Unfunny, toothless topical "jokes" practically write themselves! Which is probably why they're all too common in the funnies, on the editorial page and on late-night TV.

Good luck, and remember: Should you actually sell your gags, Comic Riffs' take is 10 percent. The lame-o gags may be cheap, but the lame-o advice is not.

THE PRESENT IMPERFECT: It's not often 'Riffs has cause to utter "Pickles" (big fan) and "Mark Trail" in the same sentence, but we read both today and one thought smacks us upside the head: So much for unconditional love or friendship, even in the fantasy of the funnypapers.

"I love you just the way you aren't." (WPWG) Enlarge Comic

For whom the dumbbell tolls. (NAS) Enlarge Comic

Now, we'll give Sue the Mad Schemer a pass because, well, she's got more conniving tricks than today's "Mark Trail" has menacing seabirds. (Cue Hitchcock.) But from Opal in "Pickles," we would expect more. Poor Earl -- because he's horizontally AND follicularly challenged in his golden years, Opal is talkin' as if she's got her steamer trunk packed and a one-way ticket to Dumpville, USA. At this rate, we smell a midweek joke coming:

Question: Hey, who will make a "hair plug" joke first: Earl or Opal?
Answer: Neither -- Joe Biden!
[Insert triple rimshot here.]

"So I've got this powerful friend in Big Oil." (NAS) Enlarge Comic

FOR WHOM THE DUMBBELL TOLLS: We'd like to think Sam Driver's being ironic, but there's no sign that we should give him that much credit. In today's "Judge Parker," Sam says the deceased duffer doesn't fit the "literary stereotype" because the dead dude liked "guns and exotic dancers."

Firearms and a penchant for promiscuity? Yeah, you're right, dear Abbey. (and yep, thanks, "Jimbo1949.") Hardly sounds like Hemingway a'tall

By Michael Cavna  | October 27, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Painting Sarah Palin in a Comic Light
Next: The Rant: 'Garfield': Nine Lives, but Are They Worth Living?


Why can't an id be less than four characters?

I know you're focussing on the easy joke, but the best on today's funny page is the new take on the old "I can't find my glasses" in Zits.

GREAT visual!

Posted by: f-squared | October 27, 2008 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Best today are Blondie and Garfield. Good halloween gags.

Posted by: wiredog | October 27, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Seems as if the comment "so much for the literary stereotype" is not coming from Sam but from the phone. Note the jagged balloon tail signifying that the Abbey made the comment.

Posted by: jimbo1949 | October 27, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

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