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

Congrats to Seamus Kirst 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: Seamus Kirst, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Man Attacks Golden Arches at McDonald’s say Police

Punch line: Authorities charged him with a McDemeanor.

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

One handle of the topic, “police,” has as one association “criminal charges,” which has as one sub-association “misdemeanor.” Another handle of the topic, “McDonald’s,” has as one association “adds ‘Mc’ to things.”

To get a laugh trigger for his punch line, Seamus linked the two associations by adding “Mc” to “misdemeanor.”

Notice that Seamus could have added “Mc” to other criminal charges and gotten other good laugh triggers, like “McFelony.” But he made his punch line as funny as possible by choosing “misdemeanor,” so he could employ Joke Maximizer #7: Use stop consonants, alliteration, and assonance. The assonance in “Mc” and “mis…” boosts the funniness with an extra wordplay surprise.

Seamus also used the Joke Maximizers that recommend ending on the laugh trigger and shortening the joke as much as possible.

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.”