Mark Twain used several methods to make his readers smile. One was the “twist or zinger.”
Lead your audience in one direction and then pull the rug out from under them with a surprise at the end. Here are a few of Twain’s classics:
“Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”
“It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native, American-criminal class except Congress.”
“Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.”
The twist is always the last part of the sentence, and the final word usually packs the most powerful punch.
From the book; “Brain Like Twain”
It’s amazing to me how each of these three quotes from Twain illustrates, in very few words his mastery of a key humorist technique.
Especially meaningful is number “2” in light of the current political climate in Washington.
If only we could listen to mister Twain’s take on political matters instead of the near-constant droning of network news anchors repeating stories that have already been discussed every hour by colleagues.