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

Congrats to Jason Andrews 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: Jason Andrews, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Now there’s a new edition of the Kama Sutra for millennials

Punch line: Additional positions included are the “Watch Netflix and Not Have Sex” position and “Clearly Communicate Consent” position.

To write this great joke, Jason might have used Punch Line Maker #3: Ask a question about the topic. One of the questions that the topic invites is “How did they change the Kama Sutra for millennials?”

Jason came up with answers to that question by brainstorming associations of the two topic handles, “Kama Sutra” and “millennials,” and then linking the associations together.

“Kama Sutra” is associated with “sex positions.” “Millennials” are associated with concepts like “Netflix and chill” and “getting explicit consent.” So to generate a punch line for his joke, Jason went down his list of millennial associations and altered them so that they would sound like Kama Sutra sex positions.

One challenge that Jason faced is that most people don’t know the names of any Kama Sutra sex positions. (“The milk and water embrace”? “Splitting of a bamboo”? I had to look those up.) Because Jason didn’t have well-known position names that he could put a millennial twist on, he just worded his millennial associations so that they sounded vaguely like exotic sex positions.

Jason’s joke lists two positions but he could have added more if he had wanted to. Given enough millennial associations to yield ten different laugh triggers, he could have turned his joke into a Letterman-style Top Ten List: Top Ten Kama Sutra Positions for Millennials. How about “Splitting of a Bamboo in Parents’ Basement”?

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.”