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

Congrats to Catt Crawford 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: Catt Crawford, Follow her on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Amid stories of Trump’s alleged past sexual activity, admin focuses on abstinence-only education

Punch line: This abstinence presentation contains graphic photos of Trump having sex and is proven 100% effective.

To write this great joke, Catt might have used Punch Line Maker #3: Ask a question about the topic.

One question that the topic invites is, “What does the abstinence-only education consist of?” Catt answered that question by using a technique suggested by Punch Line Maker #5: visualizing the topic.

Catt formed a mental picture of one of the handles of the topic — “Trump’s sexual activity” — and then exaggerated that mental picture into an image that was apparently nauseating enough to convince people to swear off having sex.

That mental image became the “graphic photos of Trump having sex” that answered Catt’s original question about the topic and also became the basis of the punch line.

Would the joke have been a little stronger if it had ended on “graphic photos of Trump having sex”? I think it’s a toss-up. You could say that ending on “100% effective,” the way Catt did, “trumps” the photos by emphasizing how truly disgusting they apparently are.

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.”