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

Congrats to Mark Turcotte 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: Mark Turcotte, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Bat-Signal to Light Up L.A. in Tribute to Adam West

Punch Line: They’re hoping it doesn’t attract Ben Affleck.

Mark used Punch Line Maker #1 — Link two associations of the topic — to write this great joke.

One handle of the topic, “Bat-Signal,” has the association “attract Batman,” which has the sub-association “don’t attract an inferior Batman.”

The other handle of the topic, “Adam West,” is associated with another Batman actor, Ben Affleck. Ben Affleck, in turn, is associated with “an inferior Batman.” Mark’s punch line uses “Ben Affleck” to link the two handles of the topic in a surprising way.

A punch line has to be true to be funny. Would most people agree that Ben Affleck is an inferior Batman? Mark made the judgment call that they would, and I agree.

Still, isn’t taking a shot at Ben Affleck a little mean? Yes, it is. So if you were writing for a late-night TV host who wants to book Ben Affleck as a guest you may not want to submit this joke to him or her.

But without a meanness-averse host to factor in, Mark correctly decided that the joke would fly with its intended audience, the rest of us.

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.”