The comedian Les Dawson was a expert at this.
My favourite Dawson-ism is the one where he's eloquently describing the beauty of the stars in the night sky, but ends up saying "Mind you, it is a bit breezy. I'd better fix the hole in the roof of this outside lavatory."
No joke has to have just one element to it. In fact a joke can contain several different elements which can add to the overall impact.
This is true of humour generally, so if you have come up with a joke which you believe to be good, don't just stop there... root around in your head / on paper to see if there are any other additions you can make to it.
I have an example of this for you now.
Let's say you're speaking at Harry's leaving do. He's going to run his property maintenance business full-time because it's been so successful, although he's not one to brag about this.
The first thing I decide on this occasion is the overall format of the joke. As we've been considering Rule of Three gags, that's where I'll start.
As you all know, Harry's leaving to concentrate on his one-man property maintenance business. To me, his only obstacle will be his modesty, which can hinder his progress, like when he recently designed some new business cards.
He started with: "Harry Stone, Managing Director," but to him that was too boastful.
Then he went for "Harry Stone, Chief Exeutive, Heating and Sanitation Division," but that was worse... and too long.
So n the end he opted for "Harry Stone, Brilliant with Bogs and Boilers!"
Comments about this joke:
1. It's not high comedy: True, but I'm positive that in the surroundings of a work leaving do over a few beers it'd get a big laugh. Not all jokes have to be hysterical.
If a joke is relevant and (preferably) original, that's often enough to make it worth including.
2. It's obviously not true that Harry has actually designed 3 business cards. You're allowed to bend the truth, exaggerate, and even to lie outright... and this can enhance the comedy.
3. Note the lesser Rule of Three in the close: 3 Bs, making it snappy, avoiding rambling.
4. Use of slang word 'Bogs'. If a comedian swears all the time, to me that isn't funny. If in a 20 minute slot he swears once, that is more likely to be funny because it's unexpected. 'Bogs' isn't a swear word, but it is slang, and in the joke as written above it would be a surprise, adding to the surprise generated by the Rule of Three format.
Join me next time!