The Webcomics.com Archive is so big, there's almost too much stuff that's worth reviewing to do only one Archive Dive a week. So every now and then, I'm going to do a Deep Dive. Consider it another bonus post. This one dates back to Feb. 22, 2010, and it focuses on a humor theory I've used for years called the Punchword. The post itself is very good -- but the conversation that ensues is pure gold.
... there are as many ways to build tension as there are to write punchlines, but here's a concept that I think has helped to maximize my tension-building: The punchword.
The punchword is the word -- or short phrase -- that holds the greatest amount of surprise for your reader. It's the word with the greatest amount of charge where the joke is concerned. It's the word with all of the power.
Take a quick look at some of the effective punchlines you come across in your daily reading. Now dissect the punchline. There's one word that holds the most surprise -- the one that sticks the needle into the balloon.
I'll maintain that you should -- whenever possible -- hold off on that punchword until the very last moment.