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

Congrats to Lisa Hernandez 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: Lisa Hernandez, Follow her on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Man’s Tinder chat takes odd turn when date reveals she’s in hospital having baby

Punch line: Well at least he knows 100% that she definitely puts out.

To write this great joke, Lisa used Punch Line Maker #1: Link two associations of the topic.

One handle of the topic, “Tinder,” has as one association “want sex.” Another handle of the topic, “having baby,” is associated with “had sex.” Lisa linked “want sex” to “had sex” by creating a punch line that says the man found out he could get what he wanted from the woman.

Lisa uses Joke Maximizer #4 — Make everything clear. Instead of expressing her punch line in a bare-bones way like “So she definitely has sex,” Lisa incorporates an angle that clearly expresses what the fact that the woman had sex means to the man.

Lisa’s angle — “Well at least he knows 100% that…” — is a variation on angles like “The good news is that…” Angles like those do a terrific job of misdirecting the audience and setting them up for the surprise of the punch line.

Notice that Lisa also used Joke Maximizer #7 — Use stop consonants, alliteration, and assonance — when she chose the words “puts out.” In addition to economically expressing the man’s point of view, those two syllables have three stop consonants. The “p” and “t” sounds give the punch line a little extra punch at the end.

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.”