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

Congrats to J.D. Smith 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: J.D. Smith, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Twitter to remove ‘like’ tool in a bid to improve the quality of debate

Punch line: But when are they going to remove all the other tools?

J. D. used Punch Line Maker #4 — Find a play on words in the topic — to write this great joke.

The first step in that Punch Line Maker is to identify two handles of the topic. “Twitter” is the obvious choice for one handle, but for the second handle J. D. may have considered several possibilities: “like,” “tool,” and maybe “debate.”

J. D. may have homed in on “tool” for his second handle when he brainstormed associations for Twitter. Twitter is now, in many people’s minds, associated with loudmouths and jerks, also known as tools. Because “tool” also means a feature that lets you do something on Twitter, J. D. made that dual-meaning wordplay the basis of his punch line.

“Tool,” with its double meaning, is the most surprising element in the punch line, so J. D. put it at the very end; Joke Maximizer #2 is “End on the laugh trigger.”

J. D. also used Joke Maximizer #4 — Make everything clear — by creating an angle that connects the topic to his laugh trigger smoothly and logically. Even when “tool” has the alternate meaning of “jerk,” the joke makes sense: removing all the jerks from Twitter would in fact “improve the quality of debate.”

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.”