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Three may be an odd number in math, but its da-da-Ta-da-da-Ta-da-da-Ta cadence makes it the most important number in comedy. Humorists and comedians have relied on the magical three for years.

Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. Mark Twain

Every joke structure has its devotees, but the triple is one format that all humorists use over and over and over. Featuring a grouping of three examples or a sequence of three actions, comments, or categories, the triple increases tension with its longer buildup.

You know what the worst part about my drinking is? When I’m drunk I slur. You know, like I say racial slurs. Wow, nobody likes that at a barbeque. Amy Schumer

For more than two decades, the unmatched writing staff of The Simpsons has produced thousands of one-liners. For Homer, the triple is a favorite.

Lisa, vampires are make-believe, like elves, gremlins, and Eskimos.           

The punch line to the traditional lightbulb joke (How many ____________s does it take to change a lightbulb?) often consists of a triple. Again, the first and second answers are only setups for the third.

How many lawyers? 

Three. One to turn the bulb, one to shake him off the ladder, and the third to sue the ladder company.

The lightbulb setup provides writers with a great opportunity to practice writing triples. Select different people with varying characteristics (e.g., professions, interests) and write punchlines. Then, compare your punchlines to the ones you find on the Internet.

The concept of a triple is simple. By listing a series of three conditions, the triple builds tension and increases the funny. The key is to ensure the most humorous item appears at the end. Simple as one, two, three.

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