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

Congrats to Peter Swanz 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: Peter Swanz, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Universal Drops Louis C.K. From ‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’

Punch Line: Couldn’t they just neuter him?

Peter’s great joke is the product of Punch Line Maker #1: Link two associations of the topic.

One handle of the topic, “Louis C.K.,” is strongly associated these days with “masturbation,” which has the sub-association “genitals.”

Another handle of the topic, “pets,” is associated with “neuter,” which has the sub-association “remove genitals.”

Peter’s punch line links those two sub-associations to reveal a truth: removing Louis C.K.’s genitals would stop him from masturbating.

The angle of the joke works well to set up the audience. “Couldn’t they just” leads the audience to expect an alternative, simpler solution to the problem presented by Louis’s casting. The laugh trigger supplies that solution but in a totally expected, and therefore funny, way.

Peter also made his joke as short as possible (Joke Maximizer #1) and ended on the laugh trigger (Joke Maximizer #2).

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.”