Obama and Romney brought the finest political jokes money can buy to the Alfred E. Smith dinner, a fundraising roast given by New York Catholics every four years. Romney delivered one of our favorites, using the Surprise Ending figure called paraprosdokian.
President Obama and I are both very lucky to have one person who’s always in our corner, someone who we can lean on and someone who is a comforting presence without whom we wouldn’t be able to go another day. I have my beautiful wife, Ann; he has Bill Clinton.
Figure of Speech: paraprosdokian (pah rah proze DOKE ee an), the unexpected ending.
Hard as it is to pronounce, the paraprosdokian can give you instant wit. Start with a banal clause or cliche and end with a surprise. You’ll more figurative surprises here. For more cool ways to twist a cliché, see page 213 of Thank You for Arguing.
Both sides scored political points but nobody seemed to care who “won.” Which makes us wonder: Why not require all the debates to be funny?