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

Congrats to Benjamin Hardy 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: Benjamin Hardy, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Chris Christie being considered to replace Sessions as attorney general

Punch line: If you believe that, I have a bridge with two lanes closed to sell you.

Benjamin might have written this great joke a couple of ways. My guess is that he used Punch Line Maker #2: Link the topic to pop culture.

If I’m right, first Benjamin focused on “Chris Christie” as the most prominent handle of the topic. Then he brainstormed a list of associations for Christie. At the top of that list is “really overweight,” but Chris Christie fat jokes have been stale for a long time.

So Benjamin wisely settled on another association of Christie, which is the Bridgegate scandal that involved shutting down traffic lanes at the George Washington Bridge.

Then Benjamin asked himself what the Bridgegate scandal suggested in pop culture and came up with the familiar saying, ”If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.” Benjamin turned that saying into his punch line by linking it back to Christie with the addition of “with two lanes closed” after the word “bridge.”

Joke Maximizer #2 is “End on the laugh trigger,” so Benjamin might have considered wording the punch line this way: “If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you with two lanes closed,” reasoning that the most surprising part of the punch line is “with two lanes closed.”

But Joke Maximizer #4 is “Make everything clear,” and the alternative wording that separates “bridge” from its modifying phrase is a little too clunky.

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.”