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

Congrats to Craig Salters 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: Craig Salters, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Transgender Man Gives Birth to Baby Boy

Punch Line: Your move, Hallmark.

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

One handle of the topic, “transgender man,” has as an association “man,” which has a sub-association “doesn’t usually give birth.” The other handle of the topic, “gives birth,” has as an association “send a greeting card.”

Craig’s punch line links those two associations with the idea that it would be hard to find a greeting card for that unusual occasion. So the rough draft of his punch line might have been something like “Good luck finding a greeting card for that occasion.”

But Craig didn’t stop there. He edited his rough draft using Joke Maximizer #1 — Shorten as much as possible. A shorter version of that rough draft might have been “Your move, greeting card companies.”

Craig also used Joke Maximizer #9 (“Get specific”) when he plugged the name of a particular greeting card company into the punch line. “Hallmark” makes a good laugh trigger because it’s short and instantly recognizable.

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.”