Former Head Writer of the Tonight Show Picks His Joke of the Week

Feb 12, 2018 · 2 min read
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Congrats to Ronald Carroll for winning this week’s joke pick!

Pro comedy writer Joe Toplyn, Former head-writer of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Show with David Letterman, picks his joke of the week:

Winner: Ronald Carroll, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Nancy Pelosi Sets Congressional Record with 8 Hour Immigration Speech

Punch line: She’s the first member of Congress to ever work 8 hours.

To write this great joke, Ronald might have used Punch Line Maker #3: Ask a question about the topic.

One question the topic might have suggested to Ronald is “What Congressional record did she set?” To answer that question, Ronald focused on the handle “Congressional” and thought about its associations.

One concept that Congress is associated with in most people’s minds is “lazy.” In the context of the topic, stating that members of Congress are lazy is surprising, so their short workdays became the basis of Ronald’s punch line.

Maybe “lazy” isn’t the first thing you think of when you read “Congress.” But a punch line doesn’t have to be literally true; most of your audience just has to accept that it’s true.

To make his joke as funny as possible, Ronald used at least two Joke Maximizers. Joke Maximizer #2 — End on the laugh trigger — is the reason the last words are “8 hours.”

And Joke Maximizer #8 — Wildly exaggerate — gave Ronald the freedom to state that Nancy Pelosi is literally the only member of Congress in history to have ever worked a full eight-hour day.

Four-time Emmy winner Joe Toplyn is a former head writer for David Letterman and Jay Leno. He also wrote the book “Comedy Writing for Late-Night TV.”

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