Quote: Damian B @ 12th September 2017, 4:55 PM
I know it's a bit late to be asking this, given this week's deadline for one-liners has already passed, but has anyone got any tips for generating lines/angles for the number-cruncher lines?
I really struggled with this last series as I kept experiencing a creative block. The object, of course, is to look at significant numbers in the news and find an ironic association or punchline, but, for some reason, I find it ten times harder than writing punchlines for breaking news headlines.
The only decent number-cruncher I came up with this week was:
20 inches: The rainfall experienced in central Florida, according to male meteorologists.
10 inches: The actual rainfall experienced in central Florida, according to female meteorologists.
Number crunchers are a little unusual as no other show has them so I certainly wasn't used to writing in that format. However by the end of last series I think I enjoyed writing them more than the straight gags. There's no right answer to this but here's some ways I use.
Think of a joke that links two things one of which is topical, forget about numbers for the moment. For example, everyone on The Jump ended up injured and C4 also has a hospital show. Then simply use the a number to link those ideas (from the NJ website)
14: The number of contestants revealed to be in Channels 4's The Jump.
14: The number of those contestants who will also be appearing on 24 hours in A&E.
This joke has nothing to do with numbers really just two connected ideas and, for my money, works better as a number cruncher than a straight gag. (Also true for the pigeon gag and Sharkando gag on their website).
Start with a statistic or number in the news. I often find these harder as it's also how many others may approach it so can be more difficult to stand out. You take a number or stat e.g. 30% teachers quit within 5 years, now think of something linked to teachers that's funny. For teachers you could have lots of holidays, apple a day or in this case the phrase "it's your own time your wasting". Then simply link those two things with a number. (From the NJ website again)
30: The percentage of new teachers who quit within 5 years.
100: The percentage of new teachers who realised that it was in fact their time they were wasting.
I quite like percentages as 100, 50 and 0 are kind of funny in themselves in that you can mean everyone or no-one right away without having to go for a clunky number like 7 billion.
Make the number the gag. Contrasting two numbers side by side can be funny e.g. small number v little number shows how out of touch one group is, different views on the same number, number vs a number that is only slightly smaller. Your 20 inches / 10 inches joke (which is a good gag) works well here as it's two different groups views on what 20 inches actually is. Another example I used (one of my own that failed) was along the lines of:
2,811 - Number of angry twitter replies to Gary Lineker saying "I will speak up for refugees and they're rights".
2,809 - Number of those angry replies that read, "It's T.H.E.I.R. Gary, not They are!"
Something funny about particular numbers. And finally is there something funny about a particular number or group of numbers e.g. the year 2020 could also be 20:20 vision, a homopone, when Len Goodman says 7, a countdown. Again only my own poor examples but here's an example of a homphone where you think you mean the number eight:
9 - Number of stones Slimming World's Miss Slinky 2017 lost this year
8 - What Miss Slinky 2017 hasn't done for twelve months
And another example of using numbers as the joke from this week (not sent it so even I don't think it's good!)
77 - number of days Frank de Boer lasted as Crystal Palace manager
76 - how long his successor is expected to last. 75, 74, 73...
From their website and from last series you can see they lean more towards the first two types so really it's less about numbers and more about a good gag.
And it's worth bearing in mind I have never got a number-cruncher on Newsjack so feel free to disregard all of the above!