How Are One-Liner Jokes Written and Composed?

Writing and composing a one-liner joke involves creating a concise and relatable premise and concluding the story with an unexpected twist that serves as the punchline. These jokes rely on building a quick rapport with the audience, establishing a set of expectations and then challenging them through the conclusion.

A one-liner joke varies from other types of jokes in that the premise and the punchline all exist within a single sentence, though some may include two or three short statements. It relies on the basic joke writing structure of introducing a premise and then concluding with an unexpected result, the surprise of which results in a humorous reaction from the audience. The first step to writing such as joke is to establish a premise that does not require excessive explanation or exposition for the audience to understand, such as waiting in line at the DMV or going to the movies.

Choosing a common activity that most people understand allows the comedian to take advantage of the audience's assumptions for how the story should play out. The punchline for the joke then needs to go against these preconceptions and create an outcome that the audience did not expect. Such jokes should still make sense and do not have to turn into complete a non sequitur, but simply move in a new direction than the one the comedian implied during the setup.