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

Congrats to Costa Tsimiklis 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: Costa Tsimiklis, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: The one personality trait intelligent people have, and stupid people don’t

Punch Line: The ability not to open click-bait articles.

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

The topic invites the question “What is that personality trait?” Costa answered that question in a surprising way by using an unexpected association of the topic.

The association here doesn’t spring from a word in the topic, as it usually does in joke writing, but from a characteristic of the topic, which is that it’s obviously clickbait, intended to entice the reader to click through to the article. That clickbait association became the basis of Costa’s punch line.

The punch line is particularly effective not only because it’s based on a fresh association but because it’s true. It says something that most people would agree with, that you’d have to be stupid at this point to click on a headline like that and expect an article worth reading.

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.”