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

Congrats to Andrew J. Barlow 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: Andrew J. Barlow, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Boy Invents Device to Prevent Hot Car Deaths

Punch Line: He calls the device a “Window.”

Punch Line Maker #6 is the one where you state the obvious about the topic. This Punch Line Maker isn’t used very often but it can result in great jokes, like this one by Andrew.

The first step in Punch Line Maker #6 is to ask an obvious question suggested by the topic. In the case of this topic, an obvious question is “What is the device?”

The next step is to write a punch line based on the obvious answer to that question. The obvious answer to the question of what device can prevent hot car deaths is an open window. That answer, therefore, becomes the basis of the punch line.

The last step is to write an angle that points from the topic to the punch line. Andrew’s angle does the job efficiently: The unspoken question is “What is the device?” so the best angle is some form of “The device is…”

Adjusting the angle to read “He calls the device…” makes the angle flow more smoothly from the topic, which also describes something the boy does: He invents the device.

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.”