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

Congrats to A.J. Glagolev 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: A.J. Glagolev, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Cashier, butcher help deliver baby at California market

Punch Line: “I understand these are extraordinary circumstances, Ma’am, but your baby needs to take a number.”

A.J.’s great joke could have been the product of Punch Line Maker #3: Ask a question about the topic. Possible questions would begin with “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” or “how.”

A “how” question prompted by the topic might be “How did the butcher help?” A.J. answered that question by using an association of the handle “butcher,” which was “take a number to be served.” That association became the basis of his punch line.

But A.J. didn’t just write a punch line like “But it was a little awkward when the butcher said he wouldn’t help until the baby took a number.”

Instead, A.J. used Joke Maximizer #12: Consider an act-out. By wording his punch line as a line of dialogue from somebody mentioned in the topic, A.J. added a little extra surprise, and funniness, to his joke.

Notice that even while using an act-out, A.J. took care to end on the laugh trigger, “take a number.”

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.”