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

Congrats to Blayr 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: Blayr, Follow her on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Psychologists Explain Why It Feels So Good To Bake For Other People

Punch line: There’s no greater satisfaction than ruining someone else’s diet.

To write this great joke, Blayr could have used Punch Line Maker #1: Link two associations of the topic.

One handle of the topic, “bake,” has associations like “cake” and “cookies,” which have the sub-association “dieting no-nos.”

The other handle of the topic, “feels so good,” is associated with things like “making people happy” and “expressing yourself.” Also on that list is “schadenfreude,” which is feeling good when something bad happens to somebody else.

Blayr’s punch line links “dieting no-nos” with the concept of schadenfreude to say something that most people would accept as true.

Of course, punch lines have to be surprising as well as true, so Blayr made sure to base her punch line on a very unexpected, slightly taboo association; most people accept that schadenfreude exists but aren’t usually willing to admit it about themselves.

And Blayr’s angle — “There’s no greater satisfaction than” — does a terrific job of beefing up the surprise of the punch line by strongly misleading the audience into expecting something sappy like “giving joy to others.”

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.”

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