What is an idiom?
It's a commonly used short phrase, falling short of a full proverb. We'll look into use of proverbs another time.
I use The Dictionary of English Idioms published by Longman. Also available is a website with 1500 idioms at 7esl.com/english-idioms.
Choose a starting poiint. Because I want to work my way through the entire Idioms book, I'm going to start at 'A'.
Work your way down the page. Assess the entries for the sorts of tricks I've taught you: puns, rhymes, alliteration, words within words etc.
The first entry to catch my eye is 'Acquired taste', which contains a word in a word. This has jumped out of me because in the middle of 'acquired' is the word 'choir'.
Step 2 Get a joke out of 'acquired taste'.
To me this comes fairly naturally, perhaps less so for you... but follow me and persist and you'll get there.. To create a joke form 'acquired taste', we need to relate choirs, or singing in a choir or a particular choir to 'an acquired taste.' For optimum effect, we're looking for a bad choir, or a bad singer. Here we go.
I'd say that Shane McGowan soundalike-choir is an acquired taste.
To make the above work best, I've put the two 'choir' sounds as close together as possible. Even then you'd have to accent the 'choir' sound in 'acquired' to make sure listeners get it.
Once again, this isn't hysterical, but there is some wit in it. If we regularly bang on at this, it will become second nature. Adopting the Tim Vine 10 jokes before breakfast method is a good idea. Your furtling, googling, other research and effort will yield a rich reward. Sometimes something you come up with will make people laugh, sometimes it will bomb. Joke-writing is a skill you can build, but getting the real gems is a numbers game.
Let's carry on down the 'A's. Next I see 'caught in the act.' 'Act' is a criminal deed or other misbehaviour, but it's also part of a play; in fact there are many one-act plays. 'Act' is a pun, but so is 'caught', which could mean a Court of law, a tennis court or even romantic courting.
Step 2 Get a joke out of 'Caught in the act'
First I consider the possible direction of someone thieving a one act play (or even a two-act play).
Last night a thief made off with the latest play by Alan Ayckbourn. The playwright said that the criminal had stolen the show.
This is a reasonably good gag. I'm satisfied with it and will now move on to the next few idioms.
Choose the next idiom to work with. I'd like to consider 'Actions speak louder than words.'
Step 2 Get a joke out of 'Actions speak louder than words.'
It is clear to me that this saying can be amended by one or two rhymes / near-rhymes by simply changing 'Actions' to 'Fractions' or 'Sanctions.' The latter is too political for me, so we'll look at the former is a standalone joke:
Fractions speak louder than words.
On it's own, this is a mildly witty remark, which is a good start. But I see in there 'Lauda', as in Niki Lauda, former ace Formula 1 driver.
This brings up the prospect of a motor racing gag as follows:
In our game fractions speak louder than words. Success can be down to fractions of a minute saved in tyre changes etc, but Lauda's talent spoke even louder than the fractions.
I also see potential in
'As the actress said to the bishop', and
'the devil's advocate'.
More next time