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

Congrats to Ryan Collins 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: Ryan Collins, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Meet ‘Wine Coffee’: Your Two Favorite Beverages Have Finally Been Combined

Punch line: Finally a way to get drunk and stay awake to regret it.

Ryan might have used Punch Line Maker #3 — Ask a question about the topic — to write this great joke.

Reading about Wine Coffee might have prompted Ryan to ask himself, “Why would anybody drink that?” To answer that question in a funny way, Ryan brainstormed associations of the two handles of the topic. “Wine” is associated with, among other things, getting drunk. And “Coffee” is associated with staying awake. Ryan’s punch line links those two associations.

Ryan also adds an angle that presents getting drunk and staying awake to regret it as advantages of drinking Wine Coffee. That angle adds to the surprise, and funniness, of the punch line because normally you wouldn’t think of regret as a good thing.

So the punch line is surprising but, to be funny, it also has to strike most people as true, and this punch line does. While it’s not true that regretting getting drunk is a good thing, what is true is the implication of the sarcastic punch line, which is that Wine Coffee is a stupid product.

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.”