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

Congrats to Amy Webber 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: Amy Webber, Follow her on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: More kids will be diagnosed with high blood pressure

Punch Line: But at least they will score high in something.

Amy used Punch Line Maker #1 — Link two associations of the topic — to create this great joke.

One handle of the topic is “kids,” which has lots of associations. Amy assumed that one association most people would have is “low test scores.” I think that’s a fair assumption given the news articles that regularly appear about how many schoolkids test below grade level, how SAT scores are dropping, and so on.

The other handle of the topic, “high blood pressure,” has the association “high numbers.” Amy’s punch line links the associations “low test scores” and “high numbers.”

Linking those two associations was a little tricky because one is about low numbers and one is about high numbers. Amy solved that problem by adding the angle “but at least.” “But at least” is like “On the plus side” and “The good news is”: they’re all angles that are useful in bridging between a topic and a punch line that embody concepts that are opposites.

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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