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

Congrats to Ruben Anthony 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: Ruben Anthony, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: A ‘9 To 5’ Remake with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton Might Happen

Punch line: It will be called “Working to 95”.

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

One handle of the topic is “9 to 5,” which is associated with “workin’ 9 to 5,” a phrase repeated in the song lyrics.

The other handle of the topic is “Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton,” who most people would probably agree can be associated with “old.” I don’t think making that association is being mean: as I write this, the ages of those actresses are, respectively, 80, 78, and 72. Plus the original movie “9 to 5” was released 38 years ago.

Ruben linked the association “workin’ 9 to 5” with the association “old” by modifying the former to read “Working to 95” and making that his punch line.

Notice that, for joke-writing purposes, each handle of a topic is usually only a word or two. But in this case the handle “Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton” is a long phrase. That’s okay, though, because the actresses in that movie are frequently thought of together, as a team.

Also notice that Ruben kept his joke as short as possible (Joke Maximizer #1) and ended on the laugh trigger (Joke Maximizer #2).

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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